Sunday, June 7, 2015

It's the Economy, stupid!

"Although the United States faces other headwinds, the newfound prudence of American consumers has turned into the country’s core economic dilemma. Some economists say that the recession caused a psychological trauma deeper than initially appreciated, leaving Americans of all ages less willing to inject their money back into the economy in the form of vacations, clothing and nights out." - WaPo article




Let's start with the "economy", and gently shepherd it back to its proper home (oikos) where it will not go to the mall, it will not go barhopping, and it will not go to Tobago this year unless it can afford to go to Tobago two hundred and fifty times (or 300, if you prefer a 3% safe withdrawal rate).

Economy is about the home.  It's about tending the law of the house, the iron law that says "if there are two of you and only one pickle left, you may not each have a pickle".  When did the "economy" get tripping on LSD and think that THERE CAN BE PICKLES FOR EVERYONE you just have to BELIEVE and SELL that pickle to each other, and if you all buy the pickle at least once then you have ALL CONSUMED THE PICKLE and then everyone has pickles ohmanohmanohman is that my finger ohmanohman.

See?  Is that what you want the economy to do?  Fall over in the kitchen in a mess of glass and pickle juice, spasms contorting its once-handsome face, chewing on its own fingers?  Because that is my best understanding of J. M. Keynes and his economic theory, absent government creating fiat pickles.  And you can't eat fiat pickles.  And it's not like they even print them all anymore, it's all just electronic fiat pickles.  It's terrible.

Let's stop talking about the economy, as it is apparently going to need serious rehab, and just talk about how a household runs.  We grow or buy food.  If we do not have the food that Jr. wants, we tell him he can't have it right now.  If a house project doesn't add value right now, I don't do it.  If Mrs. doesn't have time to pickle cucumbers, there are no pickles.  And Jr. has to learn that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all, if we even have bread, which we rarely do.

How about Mr. Miner?  I mostly run into the law of finite time.  If I do this right now, I can't do that.  If I water the garden, I am not working in the shop.  If I go to my salary gig, I am not doing diddly for my oikos.  I am earning money, yes, but that does not build household economy.  That actually enables lack of discipline in household economy.  To build household economy (which you should realize is a redundant phrase), you must spend time at home - maintaining, building, playing and teaching, helping, cleaning.

I was working on the front patio project (long form project - but it's shovel-ready), and I saw a wasp entering and exiting a small chink in the block mortar.  I'm glad I saw him, and I'm glad I had a mortar patch pail in the garage.  Mrs. saw some leaf-cutter bees doing a similar stunt out back.  If we hadn't been out working on and around the house, we would potentially have two infestations going.  This is not a problem at which you can throw money - you have to spend time, getting to know your home inside and out, so that you can be a wise steward of it.

This is something my dad excelled at.  He was always doing some project in or out of his house (a big house, a bed and breakfast, which he designed and built).  He knew every nook and cranny of that house, and it was all in ship-shape.  He didn't earn a ton of money as an innkeeper, less (I think) than he earned as a carpenter/contractor in Seattle, but he was always home.  He was always in his house, building it better, making it his and my mom's in a way that I have seen only with him and his father, my grandpa (who was also a carpenter/contractor).

So forget about the national economy babbling on the kitchen floor.  Just tend your house, and help your neighbor.  That will make a difference.

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