Monday, January 02, 2006

It's All Make Work


Well, maybe not all. But most.

Nothing much really needs to get done. We create work to fill time, space, emotional needs.

Once we tamed fire, invented the wheel, harnessed the power of steam (or electricity or coal or the atom,) much of what we have left is artificial.

And since this supposedly is the “information age,” (should be the data-age, because most “information” lacks the property of informing,) most of our “make work” now revolves around paper or its electronic equivalent.

Pay your bills, no money actually changes hands, at least for the most of us. It’s paper. It’s “information.”

Your direct deposit check is not a “check.” What they send you is an “Advice.” An advice to advise you that the “money” you have had placed in your account has moved from one imaginary location to another – yours.

Yes, you can convert it into cash. But why bother? All you have to do is advise your creditors that you are sending them “advices” about their payment, which is good enough for them. If you don’t have enough real bucks to cover the “advice,” screw it. Just tell them you have and they’ll accept it for the moment, then find out and tell you. After which you can find some new “advice.”

Forms for health insurance, library books, anything. It’s all imaginary and no one ever sees anything real. In fact, mostly no real eyes even look at the “advice.” It’s all machinery.

This is good for the unemployment rate. Millions of people are employed shuffling “information,” most of which need not be shuffled in the first place.

Scotch tape 39 cents in coins to an envelope and mail it, and see what the post office does. Probably will return your real money in favor of “advice” otherwise known (in this case) as a stamp.

You can’t buy a subway token in New York. They don’t exist anymore and couldn’t be used if they did. Instead, the make work “Metro Card” advises the transit system that you’ve “paid” your fare.

It’s not just the computerized pay system that’s evolved over the last couple of decades.

Sixty guys sit around at the water company and “estimate” your usage. Same with the electric company. Sometimes they read a meter. But why go out in the rain and the cold or the heat or the snow or the gloom of night, when you can manufacture the data in the comfort of your own office, knock down a couple of beers, BS with the rest of the make work crowd and go home.

The reading is not real, the payment is not real, and sometimes you have to wonder if the water or electricity is for real.

But it keeps America working. The wheels are humming, even if off key and out of tune.

Be a real American! Make work.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

1 comment:

John G said...

Virtual virtuality is the trend of the virtual future.