Well it is.
From The Wealth of Nations (1910) by Adam Smith; Book II, Chapter 3:
“The labour of some of the most respectable orders in the society is, like that of menial servants, unproductive of any value, and does not fix or realize itself in any permanent subject; or vendible commodity, which endures after that labour is past, and for which an equal quantity of labour could afterwards be procured. The sovereign, for example, with all the officers both of justice and war who serve under him, the whole army and navy, are unproductive labourers. They are the servants of the public, and are maintained by a part of the annual produce of the industry of other people. Their service, how honourable, how useful, or how necessary soever, produces nothing for which an equal quantity of service can afterwards be procured. The protection, security, and defence of the commonwealth, the effect of their labour this year will not purchase its protection, security, and defence for the year to come. In the same class must be ranked, some both of the gravest and most important, and some of the most frivolous professions: churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds; players, buffoons, musicians, opera-singers, opera-dancers, etc. The labour of the meanest of these has a certain value, regulated by the very same principles which regulate that of every other sort of labour; and that of the n oblest and most useful, 50 produces nothing which could afterwards purchase or procure an equal quantity of labour. Like the declamation of the actor, the harangue of the orator, or the tune of the musician, the work of all of them perishes in the very instant of its production.”
Mr. Smith makes some very intriguing points in this selection. Being a player in the music trade, it was quite an eye-opener to be made aware of the commercial vacuousness of the industry. It is true that people plop down their hard-earned dollars to see a concert of music, only to come away with nothing of any significant value to be traded for goods and services. In a way, it’s as if we steal right from their pockets.
Thank goodness for the advent of recordings in the early 20th century. Clearly, the emergence of the recording industry served to legitimize the whole field of performing musicians, as it gave us a way to set our tunes into a more physical, and thus tradable medium.
So, perhaps in our modern and enlightened era, I can continue on my path to musicianship. Once again business and technology save the day from personal crisis, upheaval, and torment.
But I did not come here (to my computer) to talk about music. There is another inexorable force which serves to suck away at the livelihood of each and every one of us; that force is hunger.
Think about it. Most of us lived with our parents for the first 18-odd years of our lives, during which time we were given free meals to our hearts’ content. When food is not a commodity, as with anything, one takes it for granted. Yes, we lived lives of bliss and plentitude then.
Not until we struck out on our own did we learn the horrible truth: food is the most oppressive of all taxes. It is extracted from us all twice, perhaps thrice daily, and the consequence for not paying up is unrelenting physical and mental anguish. If payments are not settled for too long, death is the punishment. Seems like a rather cruel and unusual way of frightening people to cough up their wages, but it is the way of things, and we have come to accept it as usual.
To draw a further parallel with the above selection, as with music or Government taxes, food money might just as well be flushed down the toilet, and I use this expression in its most literal sense. Food that is bought is invariably eaten, after which time becomes entirely devoid of monetary value. We buy, we eat, and we never see any returns on our investment, save for the temporary staving off of the “collection agency,” if you will. Then the cycle repeats itself again.
What I’m trying to get at here is that free food is awesome. It is one of the awesomest things ever. The only problem that I have with free food is that by a cruel twist of fate, my tight and frugal eating regimen has rendered my stomach unable to consume as much free food as I would like at those times when I am presented with such. Ideally, I would be able to eat so much free food that I could live off of just body fat for the next century. But alas, this is not the reality of things.
So in conclusion, it is time we mobilized to cast off the shackles of our fleshy prisons that we call our bodies!! ¡Viva la revolución!