Friday, September 23, 2011

Jobs versus work

Is there a difference?
I have a job. I have work.
We go to work, we go to our jobs.
I’ve got to work this weekend. I have a job to do.
I work from home. I have a job from home.
Is one more meaningful than the other?

These thoughts arise mainly out of the work (job?) that was done in our home remodel. In my mind, construction - working with hands - seem so much more rewarding than … what, putting out another study? “A study today finds that ….” In many ways, the word craftsmen describes those who work in the construction industry (among others). The older CPS data used to describe some workers in production jobs/work as “craftsmen and other kindred workers”. Perhaps this is why despite how much I despise painting (and yes, there’s still plenty of it to be done) I can always look back at it with some measure of satisfaction (even though it can be a horrible paint job).

Kevin Murphy probably has the best of both worlds:
Murphy’s house, 36.5 Mapquest miles southwest of the GSB in New Lenox, Illinois, is filled with his handiwork: elegant wooden cabinets, tables, and shelves, each carefully crafted but with one tiny, deliberate flaw. “I think it adds that handmade touch,” he says, “something personal. I also enjoy pointing them out.”

For years he and his family—wife Arlene, son Chris, daughters Erin and Ellen, and two Jack Russell terriers—lived about 16 miles to the east in the suburb of Flossmoor, where he joined the school board, “the most frustrating thing I’ve ever done,” and coached Little League. Earlier this year they moved farther out, to a heavily wooded subdivision outside New Lenox. In late summer, you can’t see another house from his backyard. Power tools and lumber take up three of the slots in his four-car garage, and the fourth is at risk. His next big home project is to furnish a new study, but that has to wait for the logs, remnants of a dead walnut tree out back, to dry before he cuts them into boards.

Despite the lumberjack look, he is a card-carrying, certified academic. In 1997 he won the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to an outstanding economist under 40. Last fall he was named one of 25 recipients of the MacArthur award—a $500,000, unsolicited, no-strings-attached prize popularly known as the “genius” grant.

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