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An excerpt from The Spirit of the Craftsman

     Here's a short excerpt from by book, The Spirit of the Craftsman, slated to be published soon by Cupola Press, (another fine Red Room resident).

     It should be noted at this point, that the hourly wage is probably the greatest disincentive to excellence and productivity ever devised by man.  You basically get paid for showing up and doing enough to not get fired.  Could you imagine how much more productive General Motors or Chrysler or Ford would be if their assembly line workers were paid strictly by commission on cars produced?  Of course, the unions would have apoplexy at the very thought, but that’s another issue.  The point is this: the hourly wage is a relatively recent “innovation” unheard of in agrarian or craft-based economies.     Creative, productive people get paid by the job; they are rewarded for what they make...or for what they know.  If I have a ruptured appendix, I really don’t want my surgeon paid by the hour.  And I most certainly do not think he should be getting overtime pay for spending a lot of extra hours in my abdomen.  In fact, the sooner he gets the job done, the better it is for me.  And, the more he knows, the faster it’s going to happen.  I’m willing to pay him for that knowledge.  I might not like it, but it certainly beats the alternative.  I’m really not interested in spending lots of “quality time” with my surgeon.      Likewise, I’ve never known a painter get paid by how much time he or she spends in the studio.  Painters get paid if and when they produce something for which someone wants to pay them.  This is a tremendous incentive for honing one’s craft, as one can deduce.     The same goes for writers.  Now, as a sporadically remunerated writer, I certainly wish I got paid for every hour I spent at the keyboard.  I have spent countless thousands of hours writing stuff that nobody’s wanted to publish; in fact, if I had been paid for every minute I’ve devoted to my craft, I could have retired many years ago.  However, occasionally someone does want to pay me for something I’ve written, as a result of all the unpaid hours I’ve spent polishing my prose.  Not a word has been wasted in that regard.     The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of really bad writers out there who somehow do manage to get paid for their finished products; it would be a shame to encourage them by paying for their time as well!  Of course, this applies to just about any job one can think of. 

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