The fallacy of making work was a strategy employed by labourers in a misguided attempt to retain their jobs and increase their wages when faced with the Industrial Revolution.

Machines that made a job significantly faster to complete were being developed at a huge rate, and a job that before took days could now take hours. Workers believed that they were slowly been devalued by the machines - their solution was to refuse to use them, or work slower on purpose. Their reasoning was that if work was done slowly then there would be greater demand for them to do it.

The fallacy is that they imagined that just because their previous rate of production was so slow, people do not desire an increased rate. As gradually emerged during the Industrial Revolution, markets did exist for the much-increased output of products that the machines allowed people to achieve. Because the labourer's share of the wealth generated from production tends to increase as the wealth increases (or rather, it cannot do so if wealth does not increase), it was to the ultimate benefit of the worker to be as efficient and prolific as possible. A worker with these attributes is a more valuable one. Workers without these attributes would be undercut by workers willing to accept the new machines and working practices.

Although the long-term effect of the Industrial Revolution was an increase in the general standard of living and life expectancy of the proletariat, it did not achieve this immediately - however, making work was not the answer to the problem, it was other factors such as government legislation on health and safety, trade unions and the need for a contented workforce that eventually solved the problem of unsafe working conditions and squalid living quarters.

We do not work for the sake of working, but for the sake of that which we produce. By increasing the worth of that which we produce, we increase the overall riches of an individual, business and nation. It is absurd to imagine that one's lot can be increased by decreasing riches.

Thanks to Oolong and Cletus the Foetus

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