All In A Day’s Work

A high school friend of mine who lives in Texas, Jim, posted this on Facebook over the weekend:


Q: Why does world-famous violinist Joshua Bell make $1M for each performance?

A: Because no one is stupid enough to pay him $2M – he’s just not worth that much.

(Implication: what you do has value. A finite value. And if someone else can and will do the same things you can do, for less money, then your value has been reduced to that lower amount. Unless, of course, one of a number of things happens:

  1. that other person is already working for someone else (more jobs, scarcity of labor),
  2.  you increase your value (through experience, education, or any of a sea of other factors),
  3. you decide to assume a greater share of the risk (starting your own business doing what you do, for example), or
  4. you find something new that you can do which will have greater value (new career, more responsibility, …).

What is exciting about all of these options is that, except for the first one, all are activities that you can do yourself. They don’t require that you supine yourself before some benefactor who will then own your future. What went so wrong with a society that no longer recognizes the beauty inherent in self-determination?


What’s wrong is that we have a large, powerful interest in our society that profits handsomely from selling victimhood and dependence; the idea that all violinists, even people who’ve just picked up the instrument, should be making a “living fee” for their performances, just from pure fairness.

It’s a way of buying votes but making someone else pay for it.

2 thoughts on “All In A Day’s Work

  1. The 21st century economy will have an increasing number of workers who are free agents, hired on temporary contracts. Providing group benefits and small business services (legal help, collections, accounting, various forms of insurance), together with networking opportunities, is a niche which is waiting to be filled by groups such as freelancers. Workplaces with large groups of undifferentiated low-skilled workers, the traditional home of unions, are shrinking due to technology and globalization. In a modern economy, ironically, unions need to transform to something more like guilds from the middle ages, providing structure in a free-agent economy.

  2. I’ve heard this prediction about freelancing and contracting before, Emery.
    It’s not very efficient. There are show-leather expenses that do not add value, and are born by the worker.
    Also, it’s a capitalist’s dream. Wannabe workers are forced to sell their labor in a commodity market where it is impossible to sell at higher than cost. The capitalist, however, is free to use economies of scale and barriers to market entry to ensure an economic profit.
    If the future you predict has any chance of coming to pass, it should be stopped.

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