They’re all right, Jack

Some thoughts from Marcel on what passes for employment these days:

Ideally, each of us would do honest work that needed to be done, and would earn enough at it to raise a family. (See Good Work and Good Works, by C.S. Lewis.) But just as we don’t have smallpox anymore, we don’t live in a rural village anymore, and we aren’t born into our father’s trade (lucky me). The work that needs to be done is more complex and varied than farming and smithing. Nobody’s grandfather was a Java programmer. The market is the best mechanism we’ve found to connect people who need work with work that needs to be done. Central planning doesn’t work, and leads to repression, misery, corruption, and death.

Then again, you can have that without central planning:

Rational profit maximization isn’t some kind of universal human paradigm. Doctors who are in it for the money should go do something else. Lawyers should go do something else. Teachers shouldn’t be compensated for teaching, they should be paid so they can teach. If you’re so miserable teaching you have to be compensated for it, or if you’re only doing it for the money, go and be a prison guard like everyone else. What? Oh, right. Never mind.

I don’t know anybody who teaches just for the money: the big bucks, of course, come in administration. On the other hand, I can think of lots of lawyers who should go do something else, just on general principle.

A lot of work that’s done for big profits shouldn’t be done at all. I’ve heard the US is the largest producer and exporter of pornography.

And the Department of Labor is doing its damnedest to keep it that way.

Besides the pornographers there are way too many lawyers (that juxtaposition is just a coincidence of course). It strikes me that our nation would be better off if Harvard suspended all admissions for twenty years. Most lawyers and financiers are simply parasites, doing no productive work themselves, interfering with those who are trying to accomplish something, and using their position and education to enrich themselves. That ambulance chasing or the more arcane forms of arbitrage are market-based makes the practitioners no less contemptible, but of course these creatures are long since dead to shame, and everybody takes their money and shakes their hands just as if they were honorable men. The idea of anyone being unable to appear in society out of shame for his conduct is incomprehensible today.

Emphasis added.

My lawyer did lots of productive work this year, and I have the bills to prove it. On the other hand, he’s not in Washington.

I concede, however, that there’s something disquieting about the remarkable ability of these folks to replicate themselves endlessly, when what we really need is someone to fix the air conditioner.

And we’ve been in the Post-Shame Era for several decades now, with no signs of anything resembling emergence. Then again, the parasite never, ever apologizes to the host.



  1. sya »

    23 July 2010 · 8:42 pm

    Suspending all admissions? Really? It would make sense if was admissions to the law school and/or the MBA programs, but what about the sciences? It would be depressing if being a scientist (let alone a parasitologist!) was considered parasitic.

  2. CGHill »

    23 July 2010 · 11:03 pm

    Maybe they’ll betake themselves to MIT. Comparable reputation, less emphasis on grievance studies.

  3. Mark Alger »

    24 July 2010 · 7:11 am

    And you’re doing the nation a service — a mitzvah, if you will — by keeping your lawyer OUT of Washington. The more we can do that, the better.

    I keep wondering if we ought to ban lawyers from government on the basis of a conflict of interest.


  4. KingShamus »

    24 July 2010 · 7:54 am

    The more lawyers, the more laws.

    The more laws, the less free we will be.

    Suspend admissions for 50 years, I say.

  5. Marcel »

    24 July 2010 · 8:09 am

    Okay, maybe the science and medical people can continue admissions, but in exchange I’d want the university to disband fine arts and lit. crit.

  6. ak4mc »

    24 July 2010 · 12:01 pm

    Do we really need to make more lawyers, ever? Only if we need to keep making more laws, and I have yet to see evidence that we do.

  7. ak4mc »

    24 July 2010 · 12:02 pm

    …and some very compelling evidence, especially since January 2007, that we absolutely do NOT.

  8. fillyjonk »

    24 July 2010 · 4:07 pm

    sya, there are some folks who argue that science profs and researchers are parasites.

    I try not to think too hard about it lest I be tempted to begin drinking heavily.

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