The lie of handcrafted goods

I have a friend who buys handcrafted goods and it turns out that they are not better made after all.

If you look at this article 11 Benefits you will see the lies that are often discussed. I am going to show you why those are not true.


Truth: China manufactures things by hand in factories because of the large abundance of cheap labor. Most US citizens buy goods made from China in Wal-Mart and other retailers. This hand production causes more carbon emissions due to its inefficient nature. Instead of a machine that can produce hundreds or thousands of items at a time, human labor is slower and less precise.

For example, luxury cars and goods say how they have “hand crafted stitching” and other silly things. When most people who buy luxury cars switch them every 4 years on average, this is a meaningless metric. It is gold-plating that doesn’t improve the value in any way other than the ego of thinking that someone who owns that car or product is more special or exclusive.


The lie of handcrafted goodsTruth: This is really old thinking. People are still trying to push products instead of experiences. What is higher value and less stressful and sustainable is to allow people to have the ability to learn services. Service jobs are ultimately more  profitable and better for everyone else.


Truth: The “perception of value” is what caused the bubble in housing and other markets. When we value something more than it really is worth that is a distortion of the value of the free market. Isn’t the idea of a free market that prices are determined by what people will pay for them, and ultimately the market corrects. With the type of thinking in this article, they would want you to buy something and when the value deflate “oh well the perception of value has changed”. Is that a wise way of making decisions?


Truth: Based on what? I could not find any studies that support this. How is someones skill automatically make something better. Yes it is true that some goods like a Stradivarius violin or something has value due to its rarity and technique. However it does not follow that goods are automatically better because they are handmade. Yes there are people with great skill, but given the vast majority of goods are not made by elite craftsmen, it does not follow that the average handcrafted product is better. The industrial revolution brought a standard of quality with factory made goods, and that standard has given us the standard of life we have now. I would not want a handmade car. People can not perform at the level of automation and robotics.


Truth: Feeling good should be rooted in truth and reality rather than illusion. If you buy something then what is the value to yourself and to society by buying it? The value is the long-term consequences of it. Lets say you buy a handcrafted bag. Wonderful. How long does that bag last versus one made by a machine? I would bet that the machine one lasts longer. Even if it doesn’t, it was probably made more efficiently.

Feeling good about your purchases is also in not buying things. We don’t always have to buy handcrafted goods to do good. We do the most good when we consider our needs, and only buy what we need. Far too often we justify our purchases of what we want based on factors that only rich people will use. Is your handbag worn or not looking good? Those same people who bought the handmade bag say that it is out of style and buy a new one. They feel plenty “good” about buying a handcrafted bag and say that their bag will be donated to charity. Meanwhile that charity dumps those clothes on third world countries which kills their own textile industry and jobs. Do you feel “good” about killing jobs that you aren’t even aware you killed because of the first world dumping all those “good handmade bags” on the deserving poor?

You don’t get to throw away things like we do in the US without consequences to someone. Feeling good is not the highest priority in being an ethical and “good” person.


Truth: As stated before helping communities with sustainable business like tourism and service is far better in every sense than pushing products. This is an article with an interest to sell, nothing more. You want to help communities? Volunteer, give to reputable charities, or work in a business that helps the disadvantaged. If you want to do good, do it directly and real.


Truth: What needs do you have that haven’t been thought of already? How much customization do you need to be happy? I worked for millionaires and they believed that customization would make them more happy. They customized the hell out of everything. They were very unhappy and nothing they changed made them more happy. In fact, the definition of someones happiness is their ability to accept life not try to constantly change everything. This is a distortion of what being a human is. Being human isn’t having the world as we want it, it is helping others have a chance to express their voice and be happy.


Truth: A fuller experience? Experiences are not full or empty they are exactly what we are open to at the moment. The back story of a manufactured product doesn’t make it less real than a handcrafted one. I get it, we want natural things. However a factory made organic, non-gmo, locally sourced, sustainable, fair-trade product that is far better for society than something “hand-made” which probably has none of those qualities. Even if they do have those qualities, what is the total amount of carbon used in making that product? There is no way that human labor is more efficient per good produced than machine labor.


Truth: We can access the skill and creativity of people who design mass manufactured goods. Until the replicator becomes commonplace, it will be more efficient to produce goods at a central source where material and specialized machines are located. Moving manufacturing to the end-user “hand-made” implies a one person operation doesn’t it?


Truth: Uniqueness is overrated. We are unique not because of what we have or what we wear. We are unique because of our values and what we have as part of our personality. When we focus on uniqueness outside of us, we devalue the uniqueness inside of us. Why do we seek to look unique externally when we are all the same inside? People like to think they are special, but very few people are truly unique. Maybe a few geniuses like Einstein or Newton or something like that, but the rest of us are all very much like each other.


“We have seen”? We have seen nothing. What we have read is a bunch of unfounded, unsupported assertions with no basis of evidence offered. You can look up my statements and find solid research underpinning them. “Hand made” goods is just a new marketing spin on consuming more garbage we don’t need. You want to buy handmade goods, fine, I don’t care if you do. Just don’t fool yourself thinking you are doing anyone a favor.

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Thank you recruiters when you do these 10 things

Thank you recruiters when you do these 10 things. I have worked with many recruiters and gotten jobs, consulting gigs and so on. Most recruiters have been responsible, hard-working people. I especially like it when recruiters go above and beyond and do these 10 things. All of these things listed below many helpful recruiters have done with me.

  1. Listen – Sounds sort of strange right? It is a sad fact of life that people only tend to listen to things that benefit themselves. If it doesn’t benefit themselves, they don’t seem to hear it. So when you tell something that isn’t what the recruiter wants to hear, the best recruiters will ask you what you mean. For example, one recruiter asked me if I had a certain skill with a certain phrase. I had never heard that phrase before so I assumed that I didn’t have that skill. However I looked it up and contacted the recruiter when it turns out that I did have that skill, she just used a less common phrase for it. Rather than immediately write me off as “not having the skills” she was willing to listen once I learned exactly the meaning of the obscure words she was using.
  2. Be realistic – I once had a recruiter ask me to drive an hour to visit him on the weekend in a town I had never been in. I thought this was strange, but I liked the position so I said sure. I went and listened and shared, but it was clear that this position wasn’t a good fit for me. What he shared privately and what was posted publicly was very different. If he had been realistic and been honest with the job details I would never have wasted my time meeting him. I love it when I can say to a recruiter, I have skill x,y,z but not a,b,c. Are those essential? Any recruiter should know what is essential and what is nice to have.
  3. Thank you recruiters when you do these 10 thingsHave a sense of humor – I am not saying that they laugh at my jokes. Not everyone appreciates my sense of humor and that is expected. I am saying that this is a job, not life and death situation, and when someone can relate to the human foibles it makes me more confident that they are realistic about people’s character and competence. It has been my experience in life that people who don’t have a sense of humor are difficult to relate to, and often not good team players. There is a give and take in life.
  4. Creatively package me despite not being perfect – Of course sometimes some employers want an unrealistic person. I have seen plenty of job postings where they demand advanced degrees, ability to program, manage an international program, but the job and pay is listed as entry-level. I’m sorry if you are doing and investing all of that, that is not entry-level. I am not perfect for every job, but in my niche I learn quickly and there is no lack of intellect or personality that would prevent me from being successful in a job. It is rather other cultures ability to accept that I may be a non-traditional choice, but a diverse and interesting one that brings much to the table.
  5. Humility – I love it when recruiters will admit that they don’t understand certain terms or technologies. I am happy to explain things so that they can make intelligent choices of people. I think the greatest recruiters are the best communicators, and don’t allow their ego to get in the way of the goal of their client.
  6. Action – It is exciting when you talk to a recruiter, they like you, and submit you to their client. That is seizing the moment. Surprisingly not every recruiter works this way. Some want to meet you in person or over Skype, which is fine, but tends to really delay getting the resume to the client. Some recruiters even won’t submit you until they do a background check which is really old school. I understand that some professions need a credit check because you are entrusted with financial issues or government background check. I get that. However if you are applying to keep someone able to stay connected to the Internet, this is not rocket science and doesn’t need a Senate Investigation committee.
  7. Good Memory – I get it. I bet recruiters talk to hundreds or more people per day. I couldn’t remember everyone. However when they send you an email and you call them back immediately, I am always impressed when they remember my name. Sometimes I have to spell my name which is fair my name is not easy, or remind them of the job that I am replying to which is fair as well, but at some point some recognition should happen. When people don’t remember your name, it makes you feel like a number or cog in the wheel.
  8. Honesty – Yes of course there are things that are private and things that are not. However, if you don’t get the interview, then a brief email or call would be nice. It is not easy to give unpleasant news, but it is life. If a job seeker can’t handle this, then they shouldn’t ask. Life is more no’s than yes’s but we are adults and we can handle being told no.
  9. Boundaries – I have certain boundaries and if someone asks about them, then they should honor them. Most of the time recruiters ask when the best time to call is and I say 9-5 M-F. Sometimes I get a call outside of those hours and it is for a good reason like clarification of something that client asked about. However if it is something that isn’t urgent, then wait until the next day. Life isn’t just about work.
  10. Work-life balance – Life is more than just about work. Sure work is fun and interesting, but ultimately what makes us happy can be more than just sitting in front of a computer. The recruiters who admit they have hobbies, interests outside of recruiting are fun and interesting people to talk to. I would rather talk to them than someone who’s entire life is just recruiting. This person may not achieve as much as the overachiever, but they are much nicer to be around

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