One thousand monkeys

I couldn't agree more with this. It has always seemed absurd to me that in the world of work, money and value so rarely align. It's easy to get paid large sums to do work of very dubious value, and conversely, pursuing value very often entails quite deliberately walking away from money. Why? The answers are complex and historical, but that doesn't mean the phalanx of valueless jobs is inevitable or necessary. David Graeber, whose piece in Strike! has gone somewhat viral, argues that our finance-skewed economy creates these jobs in order to keep us occupied and obedient while we serve the interests of the 1 per cent. It's at least keeping us occupied, even if it also generates the rage and resentment Graeber says is a psychological scar on our collective soul.

On the other hand, the narrative of creative breakthrough has a lot of traction, perhaps because we know in our hearts the makework non-jobs we're doing don't really stack up against value-laden creative work. The story of successful escape - ditching your non-job for your foodie blog or your screen prints or your best-selling tree-change memoir - is everywhere, encouraging us to think that all we need to do is close our eyes and jump, and the dream will catch us. But is this real? How many people actually make it? Of all the people with talent, how many devote time and energy to seriously pursuing it? And of those, how many will ever make a decent living from it? Vanishingly few. Which makes the non-jobs we're mostly trapped in all the more ineluctable.