It's been a busy summer here under the Sky that Watches; I've been working a job which, unlike the one I held when launching this blog, actually makes me work hard instead of working-hardly. I have no Internet at this workplace, so dashing off a quick mini-entry during lunch is an impossibility, and the commute is even more onerous, leaving me little time save on too-short weekends. Still, I've finally settled upon a topic which is so near and dear to me that, having thought of it and then risked forgetting all about it, I'm making the time to by-gawd-get-it-done. That topic is work itself - specifically, particular fields of work, and whether they help the world more than they hurt it or vice versa.
Obviously, my personal opinions will influence this list of rankings somewhat, but I'm trying to be at least somewhat serious and objective. I don't especially care for clowns, but if someone really wants to smear greasepaint over the parts of themselves that aren't stuffed into garish clothes and go caper about in public so that they can be mobbed by squealing children, it's really no skin off my back; they're not causing anything that I define as harm to the world. No, my vitriol is reserved for professions that, even if some people like them for perfectly sane reasons, I consider to be inherently detrimental to the entire human race by their very existence, with any good they actually do achieve being outweighed by the harm they at least theoretically might. Conversely, while I sing high praises for those who help the world in tangible ways, even more accolades are owing IMO to those who uplift it more subtly...building a bridge might help people go places, but this doesn't help much if they don't have any reason to travel, and so I prioritize the askers of "why" more highly than the answerers of "how", valuing their ability to imbue the world with meaning rather than merely to accomplish the pointless task of preserving an initially content-neutral existence.
We'll start the list with 5 jobs that uplift society or accomplish great things, followed by 6 (since I'm better at being negative) which fester like cancers in the soul of the world, and over time I'll try to come back and update this list periodically, adding more and more career fields as they occur to me, so that the list will grow gradually toward a middle and perhaps even unify into a comprehensive catalogue, every major field of work ranked according to the importance I believe it holds. I may have to split some hairs in deciding which particular disciplines to rank separately, and when to lump several distinct strains of study into a single entry; these decisions are subject to later revision, but for now I make them without apology or overmuch concern.
EDIT - Having allowed this list to stand at 11 items - six negative and
five positive - for three months, I've thought of nothing else to add to
it until today, when I shall add a single (mildly) positive entry in
commemoration of a recent positive event, and then leave the list more
or less symmetrical for a while. I could fairly easily make this
12-item list into "four good, four bad, and four neutral", as the bottom
two plusses are damned with faint praise, and the top two minuses are
something in the vein of necessary evils; a world might be better off if
it did not require either half of this category, but as it stands, the
world we live in very much does, and so distinguishing them as "good" or
"bad" is perhaps rather questionable. Still, it makes a convenient
narrative shortcut, so I will leave it as it is for now.
Without further ado, let us begin with the best of the best.
For the moment, I can't think of any contribution to the world more meaningful than the painting of a pretty picture, the crafting of a fine sculpture, the capturing of a once-in-a-decade Kodak moment, the assembly of a geometrically-inspiring tile mosaic on the floor of a public building, or any other creation of visual arts to be displayed for others's eyes, for the purpose of adding beauty and virtue to the world. For the moment, I'm separating certain other fields of art out and focusing simply on things that you look at, those worth a thousand words and requiring active attention, as I believe their purpose is different; you read literature (even comic books, though they can double as art quite effectively, and some are more one than the other - Jack Kirby's art is almost certainly of greater immediate worth to the world than Stan Lee's writing), and you hear music whether or not you listen to it, but art that your eye simply flashes across for a split-second has little impact on you, while you need only take a fraction of a minute to fully appreciate a visual masterpiece on at least the most basic level. This "golden mean" between the environmental omnipresence of sound and the active-engagement-requirement of text is probably what elevates pictorial works to what I consider to be the pinnacle of spiritual relevance (and the medieval Church agreed with me, which I firmly believe plays a large role in why they achieved such prominence); you can "grok" a painting/sculpture/frieze/etc. at a glance or scrutinize it for hours, but either way, it takes you beyond the limits of reality into a realm of pure human-mental creation. There is no higher statement of purpose for our lives that I can think of. Bill Hicks said it best, literally rather than profanely: "Fuck artists!" And do it quickly, before they starve.
(It should be noted that the creators of such works as "The Lights Going On And Off" or "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of the Living", if they qualify for membership in this profession at all, are certainly not the members I intend to applaud with this list; while I consider it eminently possible to be an artist by trade even without ever turning a dime of profit, artwork created solely for the sake of being sold for an elevated price does not qualify as "art" in my book. Individuals like Martin Creed, Damien Hirst, or for that matter Jackson Pollock are not adding much in the way of cultural heritage to the human species; they're not uplifting our souls or ennobling their nature much, if at all, and the fact that they spawn arguments over what qualifies as "true art" only suggests that they are in fact "anti-artists", who by their existence attack and disrupt the very field that they claim to participate in, and no more accomplish the goals of "traditional" art than a creator of bio-engineered pathogens qualifies as a doctor.)
Despite being a member of this category myself (at least on an amateur basis), I rank it less than superlatively because, ultimately, I believe it makes a less valuable contribution on a pound-for-pound basis. While certainly stories are valuable things to possess, they are also relatively easy to conjure for oneself; it takes just as much talent to write well as to paint well, but it takes far less talent to write adequately, and there are far more adequate writers out there supplying whatever demand there is for merely-adequate writing. Likewise, books take longer to consume than visual artworks, and offer a greater possibility of leaving the audience untouched when he or she gives up on the effort required to apprehend their worth; in short, writing of less than stellar quality is not only plentiful, but of sharply limited usefulness. Thusly, one more artist is of more immediate value to society than one more writer; while I'm not saying that only the best of writers should write, I am saying at least that a person whose primary vocation is "writer" had best do more than simply "write something"; a unique niche might still have unmet needs, but the "mainstream", whatever exactly it might be, has plenty enough of "just whatever" to satisfy its appetites for quite some time, and those aiming to be successful need to have either superlative skills or an "angle" of some sort. With all this said, those who do have either of those things are still making an immense contribution to the world...not only can we always use more life-changing literary masterpieces, but also every bizarre new genre that's invented by a writer seeking to explore uncharted territory, perhaps to compensate for a not-quite-sufficient degree of talent with more ordinary works, ultimately expands the mental horizons of humanity's inner world, and that is a priceless and wonderful thing indeed. We don't need any more mediocre hacks to clog our bookshelves with pabulum we'll never find time for and have essentially already seen, but we definitely can always profit from someone trying to blaze a new trail, even if it ultimately goes nowhere...and if you're not sure whether you're a trailblazer or not, it almost certainly can't hurt to try.
I don't want to make it seem as though the creative professions are the only ones I value at all; this was meant to be a Top Ten list (followed by a Bottom Ten), but it's taking too long to write the shortest articles that I feel are worth writing, so I'm not going to have much room in this first draft. In any event, music has had far too powerful an effect on my life not to get a superlative ranking here; I literally can't sleep without some compositions, and others play a close second fiddle (yuk yuk) to caffeine in getting me woken back up, so my very lifestyle has a rhythm which the music industry conducts expertly. Whether you create new music or simply perform the works of others, either way your value to the world is tremendous; there is not really a practical limit to the number of live shows that we can benefit from having performed, in order to give us someplace good to go on the weekend. The only reason why music ranks as low on this list as it does, is that it has a greater potential than the previous two to go horribly wrong; while certainly artworks and writings have been used for evil ends before, they are nowhere near as viciously effective as music which is created to corrupt or brainwash the listener. While the blame lies on those engineering the mind-virus rather than those who simply propagate it, the fact remains that music can be a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands, and thus it cannot claim to be as purely beneficial as its sister-arts.
(An honorable mention should be given to the movie industry, which is too thoroughly a constellation of jobs rather than a single one to find any place on any remotely economy-sized version of this list; I might as well mention them here, since the soundtrack is as integral as any other element to the creation of a cinematic wonderwork. Movies duplicate the first three entries on the ranking by nature and purpose; they provide dazzling spectacles as well as stories and a life-transforming rhythm, and are thusly a great positive influence on the world. But they also drink deeply from the wells of some of the professions at the bottom of my list...they exist primarily as shameless cash-grabs, often harmfully influence the public consciousness, and are bolstered in a structurally necessary fashion by some of the most destructive branches of law. Taken as a gestalt, Hollywood is neither good nor evil, though it is certainly juggernaut-like in its power and dominance; above all, however, it is not a single job, and the one that it most nearly resembles is probably this one, so it gets shoehorned into the footnote of this entry for now.)
As a great believer in social progress despite its many pitfalls, I must eventually give some acknowledgement to those who achieve more than mental creation; the engineer is pretty much my definition for a person who actually accomplishes something, and I instinctively ascribe to them a solutions-focused and no-nonsense approach to life which, though I acknowledge is not universally found to equal extents among all their members, I still consider to be part of the job's essential nature - and to be a quality which would be of immense benefit to pretty much every member of society who isn't in the previous three categories. We ought all to be builders of one sort or another, I feel, and those who build structures meant to support the weight of thousands need to prove themselves fairly well trustworthy before they're likely to be awarded the necessary contracts (though tragic exceptions do of course occur, and I may never feel entirely safe crossing a bridge again after what happened on I-35W a few years back). In general, I think anyone who has what it takes to become a structural designer is an asset which society needs to cultivate the holy living fuck out of, and this is not much less true of most other professions which can lay a non-bullshit claim to the word in their title (such as electrical engineers, who are certainly no less valuable than rebar-and-cementmasons to the creation of our glorious modern world).
5. Doctors and Nurses
Personally, I have an intense distrust of the medical profession; I prefer to tend my own illness and avoid being billed for the next ten years, and to simply endure any condition which is less than life-threatening. But I recognize that while some of this is rooted in genuine skepticism toward the purity of Hippocratic altruism in a for-profit hospital system, or in a belief that modern medical science is only a relative rather than an absolute improvement upon shamanistic practices ranging from herbalism to trepanning, most of it is just garden-variety paranoia that I shouldn't consider worthy of basing a social philosphy upon. While the skills and motivations of a physician are almost certainly not perfect, the chances are good that they're well above the median; ultimately nobody volunteers to spend that much time around people who are bleeding, vomiting, and soiling the bedsheets unless they have at least some altruism in their nature, and so I'm inclined to think that practicioners of medicine are probably more nearly good people than the opposite, even if I'm not ready to trust them very damn far as yet myself. In general, a healthy world is a better one; I think the Establishment takes this principle much too far, but if the hypochondria were dialed back a bit and the Asclepians reserved their attentions exclusively for those who needed them, regardless of financial motivations either against necessary care or for the reverse, they'd be critical ingredients for that ideal world I want to see achieved within my lifetime. And, after all, if my leeriness toward hospitals doesn't eventually abate, my lifetime isn't likely to be incredibly long, so I should definitely try to steer myself in the direction of valuing healers and caregivers as much as my lunacy will permit.
6. Accountants, Taxmen, Bankers Etc.
The fact that I'm adding this somewhat flattering entry is triggered by, but not actually related to, the fact that a person who happens to be an accountant recently did me a favor. I'm not here to thank him or anything; I just got to thinking about my overall opinion of his profession, and decided it was worth mentioning here. Rather than being a sort of necessary evil as I would regard both doctors and soldiers as being, accountants are a category that I am largely neutral upon (whereas lawyers I have somewhat conflicted views upon, mostly disliking them but admitting that the best defense against a bad lawyer is a good one, much as with the military, and certainly not marking the entire breed as having quite as inherently negative a nature as anything to do with money-making). Having taken accounting class in high school, I quickly (though not quickly enough) came to the conclusion that it was excruciatingly boring; even today, I cannot help but mentally stereotype an accountant as an inherently dull and petty bean-counter type, who has nothing better to do than track every piddling detail of an organization's expenses, trying to account for every penny and never let so much as a candy wrapper go unanswered-for. But at the same time, while I can't envy or even admire that kind of mentality, and would find it annoying any time I was on the receiving end of it, I cannot help but feel as if it is objectively correct behavior. Everything does have a cost, after all, and tabulating those costs very precisely is responsible behavior. Accountants' job is to keep track of the truth, in all its fine detail, and I do believe that's a somewhat beneficial thing to do, at least up to a point; outside the realm of caricature, every accountant is a human being, and there are probably very few who live up to the worst stereotypes of their nebbishy fixation. At least as long as they are reasonable, their determination to check up on a company's millions and make sure they aren't misplaced, helping to ensure that the paychecks of every employee down to the smallest mailroom clerk do not simply vanish, qualifies them as beneficial agents within society, if not terribly exciting ones. This sort of qualification also extends to other "check up" types within the tremendously complex corporate and fiscal world - tax assessors, collections agents, compliance officers and regulatory bodies, etc. And as long as we're talking about money, I figured I'd toss in a quick mention for bankers, who I really intended to have in the negative half of this list, but that's based on a lot of the same issues as lawyers, soldiers and doctors - there are some bad apples out there who give the whole field a terrible reputation, but in general, there is at least some redeeming merit in the pursuit as a whole. Eventually I should probably split bankers out into an article of their own, but for now they can live here, as they at least share with accountants the tendency to take the Little Guy's money just as seriously as that of Mr. Big, and to care for the money itself even if they do not necessarily care for the person.
The only justification anyone ever really offers for why their country needs a military is that other countries have one; I continue to firmly believe that the magical disappearance of all war-making capability from the world (all military hardware, every weapons depot and command post and quartermaster's station, all manuals of battlefield tactics or boot-camp indoctrination, and all knowledge or inclination that might result in the replacement of these things from the minds of all involved persons) could only possibly be to our complete and instantaneous benefit. The urge to violence is an atavism within our collective psyche which is long overdue to be flushed down the psychic john into the sewers of history; having invented the capability to annihilate ourselves a thousand times over, we need to stop accepting that any excuse ever justifies resorting to even the least of these methods. If all formal militaries worldwide simultaneously shuttered themselves by unanimous agreement, and fully annihilated their entire infrastructure in the process, the only thing we'd have to worry about would be informal armies that amounted to little more than undisciplined mobs armed with sticks and rocks, and these wouldn't be especially dangerous to a civilian populace that were pretty much identical to them, only with the advantage of defending their home turf. The continual escalation of combat capability in every major nation has long-since become self-sustaining and purposeless; it will end only when we all come to our senses and recognize what a colossal waste it is, and every person who voluntarily submits to the grip of that insanity-engine is one step away from the moment when it finally runs out of power. If you want to serve your community, go work at a soup kitchen, and if you want to make your country safe, go work at a soup kitchen in one of the countries that thinks America is evil. Because if you pick up a machine gun and go strut around that country "pacifying" it, you're only proving that belief to be right, and there's another guy just like you in that country who is just as eager to kill for his homeland. Don't be part of the problem; do the much harder work of waging peace instead.
While it is possible for one to practice law for good purposes, and of course a society with no laws at all is not likely to function very well at all, I still feel confident that I can state with complete accuracy that Law, as an institution, does far more harm than good, simply by virtue of its inherent inflexibility. Politicians pass laws which don't need to be made, and policemen enforce laws which don't deserve to be upheld, simply out of the misguided belief that The Law Is The Law, and that it is somehow superior not only to any individual human but to any number of same - logically, it can only follow that it is superior to Humanity as a whole, and that eventually it will achieve sufficient power and independence to judge us all guilty of capital crimes against its own monolithic perfection. On the forefront of that Skynet-like evolution are the middlemen between the aforementioned cops and congressmen - those whose profession consists almost entirely of arguing about what the Law is and is not. (I believe I mentioned my opinion of those who preoccupy themselves with definitional wankery in the footnote to #1, above; it goes triple here, since the subject is both more "life-and-death-in-importance" and less "interesting-enough-to-be-worth-discussing".) The fact that it is somehow not obvious to the prosecutor and the defense attorney, upon both of them walking into a room to argue opposite points of view, that one of them must be wrong, a liar, and unworthy of the opportunity to try and win everyone over to believing his wrongful lies, with naught save a more skillful persuasive tactic than his opposite - that alone more than suffices to indict the entire profession in my eyes. When sums of money far exceeding any possible definition of reason quickly become involved, that is only sour-egg-mayo and rancid butter on the shit sandwich that lawyers are serving mankind in the first place, claiming that otherwise we should have nothing to eat at all. But common sense and human decency are a delicious eight-course buffet, and we can start enjoying the meal as soon as we, collectively and unanimously, tell these $5000 suits where they can get stuffed. We must stop acknowledging their arguments as valid substitutes for the absolute and unchangeable truth of the world, even if we're not yet perceptive enough to know exactly what it is; we should still trust it a hell of a lot farther than we should them.
Religion is, at best, a questionable blessing upon humanity; there's a good chance that a completely rational and non-superstitious human race would never have left the Olduvai Gorge and would eventually have died off from some local calamity, and certainly without the Catholic Church's iron grip on medieval Europe and Islam's comparable influence on Arabia and north Africa, it's unlikely that the whole "civilization" concept would ever have gotten past the level of small regional empires constantly destroying each other in wars over territory. The concept of obedience to a central authority, while it has its downsides, certainly also produces measurable results; marching under the Cross or Crescent, taking seriously the concept that all humanity ought to be unified under that one banner, these two branches of the strange tree called Monotheism (with the unfortunate Jews, naturally, residing at its crotch) collectively bore impressive fruit, for without the concept of a single God who required ever-increasing acts of devotion, Mankind might never have aspired so high and reached so far, eventually creating a world in which we ourselves are half-become like unto the Gods as pre-Christian empires might have imagined them. The question lies in whether religion retains any of that usefulness now that we've literally ascended beyond the sky, building a "babel" called the International Space Station from which we can get a God's-eye view of the entire planet below us, and a halfway decent squint at theunimaginable vastness beyond. The conflict between old-fashioned Terracentrism and the modern scientific viewpoint, which posits that we are all but insignificant and that the cosmos is basically devoid of apparent meaning, is at the crux of the question of what religion is worth today; many men of the cloth are still finding ways to bring comfort to the human spirit, but many others have become utterly blinded by the absolutism which they believe to be crucial to their teachings (not without reason, since it was necessarily presented as exactly that during the aforementioned forging-of-civilization era). Motivated by mad dogmatism and an inability to believe they could possibly be wrong about the things they were so sure of, these people become street-corner shouters, pedophile priests, the Westboro Baptist Church, and so forth...religion gives them an easy excuse for insufferable behavior, and because God fails to smite them for using his name to justify their petty atrocities, they assume they must retain his absolute and unwavering support, and proceed unhesitantly to greater and greater excesses in his name. Ultimately, blaming the priest for the sins of his congregation might be little better than blaming a doctor for not managing to save his patients - but there is such a thing as being too incompetent to retain your practicing license, and even those preachers who don't rouse the self-righteous rabble in their flocks, often don't try hard enough to quell them before they collectively do something stupid and horrible in the name of the church's doctrines. In naming religion as one of my antisocial categories, I am taking the stance that whatever good individual religionists may do, they are doing in spite of their tool's bad nature rather than because of its value, and that ultimately they are only strengthening its potential for harm every time they use it, even to heal or build.
-3. Advertisers, Salesmen, and Everything Between
The fact that this list is shorter than it needs to be is becoming painfully apparent; while I sprawled across three closely related categories with my top three entries on the social-benefit registry, the bottom three are all crowded with broad swaths of vaguely related social evils. Commerce as a whole is pretty much the most virulent strain of social ills, and all three of these final entries are related to it, but this one isn't directly about the exchange of money itself; rather, it's about persuading the person from whom you're hoping to get money (or other valuables, though generally those will turn into money eventually) to cooperate with your wishes, and more generally with changing people's minds in general. Somehow, when you mention the word "brainwashing", people instantly shrink from a mental picture of Nazi hypnotists convincing you to hold still for a cranial auger, yet they don't even blink as they stare into a television that attempts to transmogrify their opinion of how many months' salary they should trade for a car or a cruise or a piece of jewelry. I don't indict advertisers as harshly as marketers or sellers, because at least the advertisement wing of the franchise tends to be creative; there are some highly entertaining commercials out there, and the persuasion is usually subtle enough that it's not too hard to push away. But even so, like a mountain being slowly beaten to sand by the rain of millenia, our free will can only survive so long in the face of the sustained, omnipresent, from-every-direction assaults of the combined advertising industry, which might be telling us to buy Product A or Product B today, or to save up until we can afford Product Y or Product Z, but is absolutely never telling us not to buy anything at all (even an ad for a savings account is trying to swindle you into "paying" today's money, in exchange for a marginally greater quantity of money in the future, but the bank wouldn't offer that trade if they didn't stand to derive much greater profit, today and tomorrow and the next day and beyond, by convincing you not to keep it for your own immediate use). As advertisers and salesmen deploy their long- and short-range weapons to cut away your resistance, market research aims their shots and stabs toward your most vital organs; a marketer is by far the most useless of these three types of antisocial capitalist scum, since his job is explicitly to reduce a vast collection of datapoints to its lowest common denominator, ignoring every aspect of the truth which doesn't directly contribute to improving the ability of his company (whether employer or client) to extract more money from the customer than their product is worth. Collectively, these three interrelated fields are all aimed at robbing you of control over your own actions and enslaving you to the ever-fleeting carrot of your own wealth; the process has by now progressed to such an extent that it is basically impossible for any of us to escape the trap.
-2. Realtors and Landowners
The very concept that land can be owned is a much more recent innovation than the human consciousness that spawned it; while the primitive tribesmen who first invented subsistence farming might have considered the ground they tilled "theirs", this claim ultimately made no difference until some other person came along and disputed it. There being an absolute limit on how much arable acreage any one person can farm, there would have been little point in stealing each other's land, and thus little reason to consider it owned in the first place, up until the first predecessors of the feudal system arose; when the concept of empire was invented, people began declaring themselves the owners of lands they didn't farm, and demanded tribute from the tenants on "their" land in exchange for some service, usually "us not killing you" or perhaps in the more noble cases "us killing that guy before he kills you". Feudalism was present in Babylon and Egypt and Rome, pretty much by definition as all of those were "empires", but it reached its absolute zenith in the aptly-named Dark Ages, when a given parcel of land was the property of about ten guys who each owned successively smaller numbers of other parcels, and only the guy whose number was zero actually lived there, giving slices of his pie to all those other assholes that claimed to be protecting him, but would happily kill him and protect someone else if he tried to keep more than the tiniest crumb of crust for himself. We have progressed nowhere near far enough away from that system. The concept of land ownership is and has always been ludicrous; the Earth was here before we came along and will be here long after the last of us dies, so the notion that it could be our property is an absurdity on the face of things. Yet, because of how far the capitalist system has been allowed to sink into its own wallow and somehow never entirely drown, we now live in a world whose landlords beggar the wildest dreams of the medieval dukes, barons, and even kings! Donald Trump could buy and sell Henry the VIII with the change in his pocket, and nobody today seems to think this is odd. By claiming ownership over stretches of countryside so large they don't even fit on a single map, today's plutocrats manufacture insanely vast quantities of money from an invisible line drawn on the ground, which exists only in the collective imaginations of everyone they can bribe or bully into cooperating with them. And the insanity is further compounded when, having seized the land out from under people's feet, the magnate rents it back to them at exorbitant rates, surrendering none of his ownership and demanding to be paid simply for the fact that "their" space is being occupied.
(The same logic will eventually drive some future descendant of Donald's to laser-etch the Trump name onto every molecule of oxygen in the air, and charge the posthuman populace of that era for the very privilege of breathing, which they will happily surrender in exchange for bread-pills and a 3-D television they can watch the circus on. I weep for the foolishness that did not call bullshit on all this insanity the moment the Renaissance nailed Feudalism's coffin shut; why, oh why, did we ever pull out the stake in its heart, by letting the revolutionaries who had seized the King's palace begin renting it out to their fellow plebs? Harvey Dent must have been thinking of Robespierre and the Bolsheviks when he came up with that famous quote in "The Dark Knight".)
-1. Stockbrokers, Insurers, Economists, etc.
Perhaps I'm not quite doing justice to the previous entries by putting them less-negative than this one; certainly, there are good businessmen doing good business out there, and even more certainly, a world completely devoid of business is a virtual impossibility, so any evils inherent in commerce might well be of the "necessary" variety. But on the basis of my personal feelings about money's potential to go horribly awry, I'm going to go ahead and put the Cult of Mammon up there as the greatest single danger to our enlightened future. Corporate CEOs and middle managers and stockholders and assorted organizational functionaries, these are all contributors to the harm that capitalism causes, but they are symptoms of varying severity more than they are the disease; I'll likely be mentioning them a little further up the list. What gets the Absolute Worst mark, however, are those individuals who don't just hoard money, but manipulate it, create the illusion that it does or does not exist where the opposite is true, finessing it like a rapist expertly pleasuring his unwilling victim, and ultimately promulgating the very concept of financial wealth as existing independently of what it represents, the labor and valuable goods which money is supposed to simply stand in for. Exercising the law of Supply and Demand, to name only the least arcane of the principles involved, enables these invisible-handsmen to obfuscate the hard reality of the world in favor of various layered smokescreens; they set prices based on who wants the product worst, rather than on the product's objective value, and they may even claim that this objective value does not exist, despite the fact that the product is an object that you can hold in your hand or a service that takes time and energy out of your life. Profiting from the hard labor of others, and then devaluing that labor itself as having lost "equity" due to factors such as "inflation", playing deceptive games with "market share" and "hedge funds" and "expected returns" in order to trick people into paying for empty promises or gamble with their entire future...the villainy of this entire field is so deeply-rooted that I can barely even think about it without beginning to succumb to a frothing rage. (The fact that most of the work which I am skilled to do is in service of these industries, at the absolute lowest level of influence yet still under the umbrella of their creeping toxicity, helps not in the slightest with letting me see even the tiny bit of silver lining which I suspect might conceivably exist.)