I got to thinking the other day about various jobs people can have and whether or not they are worth doing. By worth doing I mean that the job has a positive impact on society in general totally separate from the pay. This certainly has some overlap with a job being hated or not by people at large but I don't think that is the best indicator. The easiest examples I can think of from the two extremes are doctors and door to door 'lock in your utility rates' salespeople. I think we can all agree that in general doctors bring a lot of positive value to society and make things better for all of us regardless of how much they are paid. I think pretty much everyone would agree that most criminals fall into the 'not helping society' bucket but I think utility rate salesmen are almost as bad since they rely on selling an absolutely useless product to vulnerable people using lies, fear and high pressure tactics. My measure is simple: Would people be worse off if everyone doing the job in question simply stopped working entirely? Working on the line in a factory may not be exciting or prestigious but we need people to do it and it would be a big mess if nobody did.
cooper. I taught people about history, entertained them with stories and feats of axe throwing and build useful things with my hands. Nearly everything about the job was good and I enjoyed it immensely. I had a few jobs in university as a computer programmer and they were distinctly less worth doing but not terrible. I built websites, helped people understand technology, took care of servers and other such projects. Unfortunately because I was a coop student much of what I did was busywork and the support I got for my projects was often so pathetic I was able to get nothing of consequence done. I certainly didn't make anyone's life worse but I contributed little.
I have also been a salesman. Evaluating this is really tricky because people have such different ideas about lying and so many people actively hate salesmen and feel like they are leeches on society. I feel like lying to people about products or misrepresenting what a thing can do is morally wrong. However, I don't feel the same way about negotiation. When haggling over price people say all kinds of things that aren't true and that includes the most virtuous shopper. I feel like as long as both parties know the terms of the agreement and concur on the price then dishonesty like "Oh, I simply can't pay that much" or "Best deal today only, tomorrow this deal will be gone!" just aren't important. Given that standpoint I think my days of selling mattresses were actually an example of a job worth doing. I helped people understand the product, I legitimately did my best to guide them to the most appropriate products and I am absolutely confident that I made people sleep better and be more healthy because of the assistance I provided. My second sales job selling medical appointments to executives was the opposite; I was simply trying to convince people to do things that were mostly completely unnecessary at best. My entire job consisted of hassling people into buying things they did not need and then charging OHIP for those procedures they shouldn't have been getting in the first place. That job justified the commonly held negative stereotypes of salespeople.
Now of course I should consider the job of unpaid writer, games designer and homemaker. I think I entertain and educate people with my writing (I try, anyhow) and I maintain a home and do chores that need doing. I certainly harm no one and much of what I do is very necessary work. The glory factor is certainly a little lacking but I think as far as being worth doing my current job is right up there.
I imagine the scale as going from -10 to 10 where 0 is a job that just doesn't do anything helpful, 10 is a doctor and -10 is a mob hitman.
Mattress sales: 5
Medical sales: -4
I don't know that this tells me much of anything really. I think if everyone thought about jobs this way and tried to find jobs that were really worth doing by my definition we would have a much richer, happier and more productive society. I suppose that most of the people doing the jobs that are negative have little enough concern for this metric regardless.