Updated: Mar 6, 2022
If I pay you to take a shit, does it mean it is a job? Though I concede that you can do a good job, the example makes it obvious why anything you get paid for is not a job, contrary to the popular opinion. You can get paid for anything someone agrees to pay you for. A government can pay someone to sit and do nothing. Some get paid to steal (not talking of thieves), to police and protect the wealthy (not talking of bodyguards), to rent property, to shake their ass on TV, to pop bubble wraps on YouTube, to post provocative pictures on Instagram. Are they employed?
Consider what you would do if you and friends decided to start a life on an unoccupied island. You'd make houses, clothes, tents, umbrellas, agricultural tools, utensils grow crops, hunt for meat, make grills to grill the meat. You'd chop down some trees to make paper to keep records and to write instructions for your kids. All these activities have one commonality. They all add value to society. They all are useful. All your friends work every day, meaning they are employed. They don't get paid. You've not yet started using money. But it is clear that a job has nothing to do with getting paid because a job can exist without money. A job is an activity that adds value to society, anything that improves at least one man's life, anything that matters. In this organic picture, you can see why all prostitutes are unemployed. All politicians and bureaucrats are unemployed, too, hence, Nigel Farage's accusation. It doesn't mean, however, that you should not play basketball. Play basketball. Play well. If people want to watch you play, be grateful. Make sure they are not wasting their time. We like Allen Iverson is not because he plays well. His play inspires us. And that is the real value. We all know Goku is stronger than Vegeta but we still like Vegeta more. If they were real, I would pay to watch him fight, not Goku.
In fall 2018, while working as a substitute teacher, a student at Starkville High School told me he wanted to be a basketball player or something like that, to which I responded, "that's not a real job." He said he could make money that way. I responded, "if I pay you to take a shit, does it mean it is a job?" "I can do a good job though," he said. This post is inspired by that conversation.