I just assembled a pair of boxes from Ikea for putting paperwork in.  Like all Ikea products, they are superficially fetching, nearly impossible to assemble correctly without taking them apart at least once, and too flimsy to survive more than one household move.  My life's ambition is to never again put together an Ikea product.  I have not yet reached that halcyon plane of existence, and perhaps never will.  And so I am doomed to ask myself the same question every time I pull out one of those wordless instruction manuals:  how did nature, or nature's God, manage to produce an entire nation full of industrious people who assess the value of their own time at $0?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.