Real work vs abstract “work”

One of the many simultaneous and delicious collapses in the bitcoin/NFT world:

After playing up how Axie Infinity had “created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Philippines” and other locations where salaries are low, Axie Infinity has crumbled. Some players had quit their traditional jobs to become full-time Axie players, and for a few months in 2021, some skilled players could make more than the average wage in the Philippines by playing the game. As of May, even top-ranked players were making around $0.68 a day—certainly well below the $41.50 average daily wage in the Philippines

Let’s try a comparison with a much older and much more useful way for youngsters to earn money. One of those obscure old radio programs was listing the previous occupations of well-known actors. Spencer Tracy started work at age 9, as a lamplighter in NYC for 3 cents per lamp. Sounds like no money at all?

First adjust the number for inflation since 1910. It’s 90 cents per lamp now. Already beats the Axie payment per day.

Now a quick guesstimate. The lamplighter obviously had to complete his job within one hour around sunset. Lamplighters in 1910 ran from one gaslamp to the next, using a long pole with a hook on the end to open the valve and trigger the flint. Assuming one minute per lamp and one minute to run to the next lamp, a fast worker could light 30 lamps per night. That’s 27 bucks for an hour’s work. Not bad by modern standards!

Or in strictly 1910 terms, the lamplighter would be bringing home 90 cents per day. His father was probably earning about 3 dollars per day, so the kid was adding a significant amount to the household income.