And twice is the only way to live.
- Jan 25, 2023
- The boring one
It's also difficult to assess. For several years, I've been simply volunteering (a lot). And even now, I'm on a pretty low wage, and really not interested in better financial opportunities - in short I'm not very interested in providing services to people who can afford them, or in being paid better to work against them. My point is, I've seen, in these contexts and others, a huge lot of people who are productive to society and to mankind without it being reflected in financial gains. A lot of people around me who don't make money (who are a "drain" on State finances) are simply people I wish were kept around, because of their right to be around (for starters) but also for whatever unquantifiable ways they contribute to the collectivity. Simply by being themselves, by being kind, being fun, being caring, helpful, and often being active artistically or socially. If you contemplate "economy" in a broader, anthropologic perspective (as exchanges of goods and services as a whole), a lot of informal activities are crucial to society's functionning yet stay "invisible", unaccounted, in traditional economy terms (stuff like all the intra-familial help, for instance, day to day support of elders, or the mental health gain of social fabric, solidarity, exchanges, etc).Society to some extent creates the sorts of people you think drag society down, although some will inevitably exist no matter what society does.
And inversely, you can question the "gain for society" of a lot of activities that are recognized as productive in financial terms. All things related to overproduction and overconsumption, the tobacco industry, the design, fabrication and commerce of toy-shaped antipersonal landmines, the profitability of hate speech and disinformation, the whole realm of parasitic speculation, Graeber's galaxy of "bullshit job" and other self-licking ice cones. Plus everything that is "productively" challenging the very inhabitability of our planet.
"Making money" is a poor measure of social productivity and usefulness. And a dangerous one when it's used by social darwinists who, precisely understand nothing about the value of diversity in evolution and natural selection. There are both moral and practical reasons to be wary of such discourses and ideologies.