[ExI] retrainability of plebeians

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue Apr 28 06:39:16 UTC 2009

On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 1:53 AM, Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:

> And here we differ. You are justifying the assertion that these jobs
> are not makework, by saying effectively that people get paid.

### No, this is not what I claim. I say that since these jobs are
useful (otherwise nobody would pay voluntarily for them), they are not
makework. They make the lives of customers better, even if trivially
so. The benefit to customer outweighs the inconvenience to worker
(otherwise nobody would do these jobs voluntarily). The net effect is
positive, even if such jobs are not indispensable for anybody's
survival. Lack of relevance to survival does not make for

> For the time-being, let's get away from the question of "is there
> makework?" and "how much makework is there?" and just look at "Is
> makework bad or good?".

### Makework, that it paying in real coin for useless activity, is
either stupid (if you are paying with your own money), or wrong (if
you take somebody else's money to pay for it, either to yourself or to
others). The net effect is negative. I don't see this is as
controversial at all.

> Let's be a little utilitarian and define makework as work which has a
> negligible utility for the greater group, as opposed to "real" work
> which has a non-negligible utility. I think we can say the total
> utility of work is the utility to the group plus the utility to the
> individual.

### There is no utility to the group. The group has no utility
function. Only individuals do.


I'm happy to ignore "real" work for now, and just talk
> about makework, where the utility to the group is 0, so the total
> utility is solely comprised of the utility to the individual *.
> So what is the utility to the individual of makework?

### None. Work almost always has negative utility, and only payment
sufficient to outweigh this disutility keeps us working. Some people
(like me) are in the lucky position of enjoying a useful hobby that
gets well paid, but this is uncommon, I gather.

> In summary, if we don't need a person to work in order to support
> themselves, then we shouldn't make them.

### I am not sure I understand the structure of your statement (who
are these "we"?) but I think I might agree - I don't have a need
(desire) to force others to work, and even if I did, I would still
think it would be not nice to force them to do or not do anything. I
am all for live and let live, you know.

> So, we still need to decide, are any or indeed most of us engaged in
> makework, or not? I think so, Rafal thinks not, any others want to
> chime in?

### Maybe you could name names and numbers on who is really involved
in makework?


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