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Knit socks, bake bread, make the bed: This is the wealth of families and nations

February 7, 2008

A post I launched on our knitting blog, “Why knitting socks is good for the economy,” resonated unexpectedly. Knitters, quilters, bed makers, breadmakers–people who simply do things for themselves and don’t think about the value–suddenly realized that our passions and the fruits of our energy have value, even though these things are not purchased or taxed.

Imagine, if everyone suddenly became more self-sufficient, more independent, more competent to produce what they needed, what wouldgovernment do for a living? Perhaps it would find purpose in its founders’ original intent: to provide for the common defense, administer justice, and clear the way for the people to prosper: for knitting, quilting, making one’s own bed, making one’s own bread, and making pizza at home all contribute to household and family wealth, and ultimately to the wealth of the nation.

I hope it is clear that this is not a Marxist diatribe extolling the notion that labor is capital. It is true that the fruits of one’s labor constitute capital; however it is the individual, and ultimately, the marketplace, that determines value, not the State. The great philosophical divide is over who owns and sets value for the capital.

It would change Americans’ lives immensely if our hireling government would leave us alone, leave us the dignity of establishing the value of our own work, and generally not compel us to live beneath a sword of Damocles threatening to change our lawful, competent lives.

It is not the business of our government to tell us how much better our lives could be so that it can tax us to provide overpriced improvements.

How insulting it is to tell us that our lives are not worth enough, just because we do a few things for ourselves that still manage to elude the internal revenue loop. Yet that is what we are accustomed to hearing, especially men and women who work at home to produce household necessities and perform needed services.

I fear government could become infected with a big idea: start taxing every pair of handknit socks and every loaf of homemade bread, and start exacting self-employment taxes every time the bed is made.

I submit a proposal that no one incapable of doing any of these things–knitting socks, baking bread, or making one’s own bed–should have the right to run for President. No one who can’t do anything for himself–or, God forbid, herself–should have any right to control any aspect of anyone else’s life, much less go about setting value on others’ values. Away with them, for they are all worthless fellows.

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