Saturday, September 14, 2013

In defence of the 9 to 5 (sort of)

Much as I dislike the 9 to 5 grind, it occurs to me from time to time to consider the alternative.

A few centuries ago, I might have been working on someone's land to put food on the table - hard physical labour. A few centuries before that I might have been a foot soldier in some crazy war over resources.

The point being that while capitalism has imprisoned us in the rat race, it has liberated us from much tyranny in the process. The ability of not having to produce food, nor to fight for it or defend it from marauders, and yet being able to take a full stomach for granted each day is rather remarkable.

It is good to think of the elaborate supply chain that happens to get that food on my dinner table.

Farmers are toiling somewhere in some fields, selling it to other people in some markets, truckers taking it from one point to the next, packers packaging it, retailers stocking it, and finally it arrives. None of these people know me or each other and yet through the magic of the exchange economy the food is there every day. Every person along the way is just showing up for work - doing his own 9-to-5 routine, and the end result is choice and abundance. It is not perfect, many go hungry in the process but millions more are fed. And it is remarkable that it works at all at such a massive scale without anyone trying to orchestrate the whole thing.

So yes, 9 to 5 can be a drag. But consider the alternatives.

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