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While I will not argue that intelligence is a critically important aspect of labor, I also think that there's another key aspect of it, that is completely different in quantity and application - attention.  There are a lot of service jobs that just need someone to really pay attention - no, more than that, to pay attention and to care what happens.  This isn't innovation, this isn't solving new problems - this is just doing things that need to be done, and doing them correctly so that everybody is better off.

Medicine?  Most of it is just paying attention to the sick, and trying to help them.  Sure, medical researchers are out there trying to solve new problems, but most nurses and doctors working with the public are just applying their attention and care.

Education is a field where, arguably, research has made the field worse, not better.  Academic education programs seems to be a black hole of mediocre intellects pondering problems that are only problems for themselves, and then forcing their half-baked solutions on the actual teachers in the field - most of whom need, more than anything, the time and energy to really pay attention to their students.

Law and government - sure, directing national policy is a realm for the intellect, but helping people get their drivers license, ensuring fair and respectable legal representation, and police work are about paying attention, being there, and caring how things go.

Cooking, crafting, massage, hair/nail/beauty care, repair and renovation, and a hundred more that aren't coming to mind - all of these are key services that dramatically improve the quality of life for people around them, and thus contribute greatly to human wealth, and all of them are based largely on attention and care.  

by Zwackus on Sat Sep 1st, 2012 at 08:58:08 PM EST
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Zwackus:
Cooking, crafting, massage, hair/nail/beauty care, repair and renovation, and a hundred more that aren't coming to mind - all of these are key services that dramatically improve the quality of life for people around them, and thus contribute greatly to human wealth, and all of them are based largely on attention and care.  

damn straight... :)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Sep 2nd, 2012 at 03:52:09 AM EST
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All of this are labour-intensive low-resource-intensity activities. GDP could expand without strengthening the current global natural resource constraints if these sectors were expanded. There is room for plenty of low-skilled labour in these sectors, too, so a lot of people could immediately be recycled into them.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 2nd, 2012 at 04:44:47 AM EST
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Definitely.  In light of our earlier discussions about the inflationary/non-inflationary effects of government spending in previous diaries, I've been thinking that a good way to get started on a full employment program would be for the central government, the part the issues money (making it impossible for the current Eurozone, sadly), to guarantee state/province/local entities full funding for as many teachers, doctors, social workers, etc. as they feel fit to hire, and to fund it all via direct monetary creation so there's no deficit funding to worry about at all.

In addition to promoting employment in system-critical and labor-intensive sectors, this would also be a powerfully anti-cyclical stimulus program for the whole economy, as there would be a large sector of fairly low-income people who would keep their jobs, and keep pumping money into the regular economy, despite the overall economic situation, and despite any decline in tax revenue.

by Zwackus on Sun Sep 2nd, 2012 at 04:39:09 PM EST
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