Sorry this is late. It’s coming to you from the secret remote location in Colorado Springs (which might or might not be a library… ahem) because every few weeks we need to do stuff in the Springs (our eye doctor and banker and a dozen other things are still here) and so I come down with husband on his way to work, then hole up in a quiet place to write, while he is at work.
Anyway, on the way to the Springs from Denver — a drive that is used to punish the d*mned in hell, particularly when you do it at commuter hours — we were stuck on the highway going at the speed of a running tortoise, and I was looking at the side of the road, specifically at infrastructure on the side of the road: drains protruding from a berm, into a ditch by the side of the highway. Or the train line running in just the sort of place where it won’t get overwhelmed by a flood. Or–
There is a goodness to this, and also a sort of integrity. It’s also almost unique. (Not really. English are decentish at it, and Germans are good at it. But–) In most of the world this sort of work is done by despised professions and there’s no pride to it. There’s also scant calculation and very little thinking associated with it.
Years ago in the blog that shall not be named, a frequent poster who had an SO in South America posted about taking a shower in his SO’s house. He posted pictures of the shower too. The problem was that no matter what you did, the bathroom was going to flood. They just accepted it, and were going to clean it afterwards. This ties in to someone posting in a private group on FB about how recent Mexican immigrants tend to throw the used toilet paper in the trash and how they “didn’t get it.”
I do get it. My parents house doesn’t have that problem, because the plumber was mom’s brother, and she watched every detail of it, and more modern houses don’t have that problem (in general. There’s always fly by night construction) but in grandma’s house, we had to put the tp in the wastepaper basket because otherwise, the entire plumbing would have to be snaked. And it’s not unusual in older houses. I understand it’s about half and half in Mexico and these immigrants are trying to be curteous and not mess up the plumbing of shops or libraries or whatever. The fact that it strikes us as gross beyond belief is not their fault.
But there’s other issues: hastily mixed concrete that isn’t the right mix and starts crumbling after less than ten years is a problem the world over.
And it’s not just construction that has an issue, either. Dan was talking to me about some movie (I watch movies second hand, I swear) that featured the Favelas of Rio. People in the US tend to view Brazil as a goofy and funny country, and it is that, but the poverty is worse than most of us can even willingly imagine, and what I was speaking to was a part of the movie where a middle class guy, with a job lived in one of the safer “favelas” (think slums. But think third world slums, with hastily built houses of corrugated aluminum and plastic, often with stolen power and water.)
I explained it was a problem of permitting, by and large. Portugal isn’t as bad, mind, nowhere near but in the seventies a lot of places were designated “green belts” everywhere, so that to build on them (and you had to build on them, or you were stymied in growth) you had to know who to bribe, and of course have the money to do it. This isn’t the only reason why favelas end up housing even the middle class. There’s a ton of other reasons, including but not limited to land ownership and property rights, and a shitton of stuff. But permitting is part of it.
This is because people don’t view their public posts as something they do to make society better/serve society or even do a job, but as a way to enrich themselves/benefit their friends/make it easier to make money in the future.
Everything, from truly shoddy workmanship to rushed, corner/cutting work, to outright corruption comes from viewing a job not as something you take pride in and work to do your best at, but from viewing a job as an opportunity to enrich yourself and your family while doing as little work as humanly possible. In fact in some societies, this is viewed as a duty. As someone in comments cited there are places in Africa where locals can’t run a shop, because all their relatives near and distant will expect to be given merchandise for free… or even money out of the till.
A lot of this is because the idea of the individual as independent of the tribe and the family is a very new thing in most of the world. We kind of have a head start on it because we are/are descended from those who left family and tribe behind.
The other part of this is that in most of the world people are stuck where I was when my only choice was traditional publishing. There is no joy in mudville, because your doing well is dependent not on your own efforts but on the work of other people in a system that’s so corrupt that ninety nine percent of the time you’ll fail, regardless of how hard you work. This eats the heart out from people — I should know. A great part of the illnesses of the last 10 years started with giving up — and makes them into walking zombies for whom it is impossible to care about their work or really anything.
Also in most of the world working for money is vaguely shameful. Particularly so if you’re working for someone else. (Except in my field where apparently the REAL shame is working for yourself without a publisher.)
And even here not only does that attitude persist, but it’s trying to make itself normal. Particularly in politics.
So, take pride in what you do, and do the best job you can. It’s not just important for you, it’s a building block of society. Do the best you can, and control as much as you can, so maybe you will have just reward which is an incentive to do better.
This way is civilization built. This way do things actually improve.
And under that heading, I’ve decided to publish my Austen fanfic for pay (because I can.) I have quite a few stories either finished or hanging from a day’s work. I’ll be putting it out as I get to it.
The first one is out under the pen name Alyx Silver (because it’s so different from ALL my other stuff, and such a niche market.) Alyx might also end up doing romance. Anyway…)