By Bart Vogelzang | VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C., CANADA -- Have you ever stopped to think about the term, ‘service industry’? I confess…I never did, till this morning. It just suddenly occurred to me that all those jobs in the service industry are jobs we’ve done entirely for ourselves in the past.
When you think of it as someone doing something for you that you could do for yourself, it becomes pretty obvious that you are wasting money; and conversely, someone else is being paid to do something that is entirely non-productive, even though it may be hard work, and feel useful to them.
Instead of making coffee for yourself, you pay someone to service that desire. You pay to have someone cook your food and serve it to you at a table, a table cleaned by another of the service staff, at which you were seated by yet another staff member, and possibly served a drink by yet another. At least 4, 5 or 6 if you count the cooks, people to serve you with what you could have done entirely for yourself. You’d darned well better have a seriously productive business to warrant that kind of treatment. What? You don’t? You’re a receptionist at a realty office? How ironic.
You too are a service worker, doing something that could be done by all those realtors simply picking up the phone, or greeting customers themselves. Oh no, didn’t we used to sell our own property, and not pass the job on to others…another service industry, disguised as something much more important.
Sadly, the list goes on, and you really need to analyze each career closely, to realize that we are essentially a pretty useless bunch, doing very little of real productive value, and mostly serving each other, in some kind of slowly shrinking circle of payment. The people that offer the flashiest services ‘earn’ the most, and they pass on their gains to those with less flash, in a decreasing cycle, much like a pendulum swings back and forth, but eventually comes to a stop. Near the bottom are those with the least glamorous service jobs.
Ironically enough, the most glamorous jobs, and often also the ones offering the least service, pretty much produce no ‘real’ benefit at all. Sports figures, from football to tennis to golf are prime examples. We don’t even do our own sports anymore…we pay handsomely to have others do that for us. Movie stars and TV stars are other blips on the radar of services we’ve demanded whilst giving up our own entertainment abilities. Not far behind are recording industry musicians, servicing our now latent innate musical abilities and needs.
Even better disguised are investment bankers, stockbrokers, and financial advisers. Not only do they feed solely on your money by using your money, they have complicated the system to the point where they have created a situation in which you, the ordinary person, will find it nearly impossible to wrest personal control back into your own hands. And then there are the educators. Instead of being part of a web of inspiration, they serve mainly to look after your children while you are away from home, and secondarily to train those children into uniform and obedient drones to mono-cultural society of consumers and servers. Just recently there was the threat of a teachers strike in my area, and the single biggest outcry was, ‘what are we going to do when there is no-one to look after the kids’. Education, regardless of what they bleat, is a new age service industry. Many kids these days can learn more, and faster, by doing their own exploration of the world via internet search engines, all without the fetters of conformity being shackled around their minds.
We mustn’t forget our inner psyches though. It used to be that people ‘communed with God’ on a personal basis, by living in the harsh but beautiful world, in the here and now, awed by a rainbow, a sunset, the night sky, the vastness of the plains with undulating grasses. No longer; now we pay huge amounts to have people service our spiritual needs. We place the entrancing preachers on pulpits around our nations, allowing them to expound their views to us, and thereby absolve us of any need to take care of our own consciences. Surely, that too has become a service industry. Surely we can each best serve as our own spiritual guide; it may actually be imperative that we do.
So are there any out there who are doing anything actually productive? Are there any who are doing something real, and not just serving others what those others could be doing for themselves? Of course there are. Mining and smelting ores into useful metals is something one cannot reasonably expect to do oneself. Growing enough food on the land to support yourself and your family is long gone…there are simply too many people for humanity to be able to sustain itself with individually grown crops or farm animals. Making cloth is similarly not possible for everyone, although sewing that cloth together into clothing can rightly be considered a service as well.
So what do we see as a pattern in this? Real productivity comes from resource extraction, and pretty much everything else is service. Unfortunately, resource extraction is exactly that, removal, and it will eventually end, when it runs out. What we have is a huge number of people all feeding off each other in ever decreasing amounts with ever decreasing values from ever decreasing resources, whilst fooling themselves and each other into thinking they are actually useful. Maybe we can elect a service rep, er, politician, to take care of the mess.