The Power is Yours!

A Houston Chronicle article has brought a unique practice to my attention:

Tens of thousands of teachers are blocking highways and seizing government buildings across Mexico to protest a federal education reform ending their longtime practice of selling their jobs or giving them to their children.

Having ownership of a particular job seems strange at first blush, but then again, politicians are always talking about “American jobs” being shipped overseas, which carries the same implication, no matter how odd.

A job is a task or series of tasks, like mowing the lawn or debugging software. So to claim a job is American is to claim that certain tasks are American, which—excepting many government jobs— is so inscrutable as to be meaningless. You might as well start claiming that certain jobs are cobalt or Jeffish. Similarly, ownership of a job implies ownership of a particular task, which is inescapably silly.

What people do own is their labor, and a job results when a seller of labor comes to a mutually agreeable arrangement with someone who wants to buy that labor. A job is the vessel, shaped by both buyer and seller, into which labor is poured and from which the buyer’s desired good or service emerges. Without these powers combined, the vessel ceases to be, much like Captain Planet without one of his rings.

And everyone knows you can’t sell Captain Planet, no matter how eager the nefarious Hoggish Greedly might be to make the purchase.