[The] effort to proclaim the grand homogeneity of work has commanded, for different reasons, the support of remarkably numerous and diverse groups. To economists, it has seemed a harmless and, indeed, an indispensable simplification. It has enabled them to deal homogeneously with all of the different kinds of productive effort and to elaborate a general theory of wages applying to all who receive an income for services. Doubts have arisen from time to to time, but they have been suppressed or considered to concern special cases. The identity of all classes of labor is one thing on which capitalist and Communist doctrine wholly agree. The president of the corporation is pleased to think that his handsomely appointed, comfortably upholstered office is the scene of the same kind of toil as the assembly line and that only the greater demands in talent and intensity justify his wage differential. The Communist officeholder could not afford to have it supposed that his labor differed in any significant respect from that of the comrade at the lathe or on the collective farm with whom he was ideologically one. In both societies, it served the democratic conscience of the more favored groups to identify themselves with those who do hard physical labor. A lurking sense of guilt over a more pleasant, agreeable, and remunerative life can often be assuaged by the observation, “I am a worker too,” or, more audaciously, by the statement that “mental labor is far more taxing than physical labor.” Since the man who does physical labor is intellectually disqualified from comparing his toil with that of the brainworker, the proposition, though outrageous, is uniquely unassailable.

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society