Makework

By | November 2, 2010

make-work
[meyk-wurk] –noun
work, usually of little importance,
created to keep a person from being idle or unemployed.

Origin: 1935–40, Americanism ;  n. use of v. phrase make work

Sadly, I see this every day.  The building I am in just had the outside repainted.  It wasn’t in disrepair or dirty.  I looked at it before and looked at it after.  Looks the same to me.  Oh wait…the pinstripe used to be red, and now its black.  They had all these people, cranes, machinery, paint and effort with the end result being a different color on the pin stripe.

Clearly, this was not worth the effort.  How much of human endeavors is just make-work?  How much of our energies go towards nearly useless activities.  Have you ever worked on a presentation that you knew had no tangible benefit?  Have you ever created a document on a wiki that no one would ever read?  Sometimes the benefits are for one’s self, I suppose, but often they are for no one.

Great article about “digging holes just to fill them back up“.  John Maynard Keynes argued that, although this kind of make-work might stimulate demand, it is a silly thing to do for a sensible society.  In other words, we shouldn’t be doing this.

Well, I guess I should get back to work now.

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