Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Economics in One Lesson

This week's chapters were short and sweet, and this quote (from Adam Smith?) was what stayed with me all week:

"It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy."

Mr. Hazlitt expands this idea in explaining tariffs, but it certainly bears weight in our family economy, too. As I explained to the children, this is why I don't make jams, jellies, and preserves at home. This is why I don't have sheep, goats, or chickens. For our family, it would cost more to run a home farm than it does to buy our food.

I do knit sweaters and socks for family members, but not to save money. Knitting is cheaper than spa days and vacations, so I knit for pleasure and relaxation. However, that doesn't mean I won't buy a sweater made in Vietnam or China from Wal-Mart or Target for $12.

I like Mr. Hazlitt's common sense approach to economics.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Jennie C. said...

That's good to a point, but now we have an unhealthy and tainted food supply. While making a thing or growing a thing may cost more, in both time and money, you have the very real advantage of providing a superior product. It's a trade-off sometimes.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Dominion Family said...

When I do finally get to meet you, I hope you can get me back on the knitting track. I have taken a 24 year break :)

Thank-you for isolating that quote which I had forgotten about. It really does help to bring it all home.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jennie, I used to belong to a co-op that bought organic food. But it was cheaper for me to buy my organic fruits and vegetables through the co-op (and from a local farmer) than it would have been for me to grow them myself. I do grow some of my own herbs now, and a local man uses our back yard to grow some vegetables, and for the loan of the land he gives us some of his produce.

I agree (and I see that a lot of the other people reading Hazlitt's book really did a good job of bringing this out-) that money isn't always the bottom line, even in economics. Ethics, quality of life, relationshps with other people - all influence, or should influence, economic activity.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

I like your short, concise entry :)

Thanks for reading my longer ones. Another thought I have and may write about in the future is that Hazlitt is talking about society and economic priniples. These dont always apply to the family realm in the same way.

But I think you know that.

Oh, and sign me up for the kitting class WHEN Cindy is there!

2:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Cindy and Dana, just say the word and name the date! I have plenty of yarn and needles, and would love to have you both over for knitting - and food. Or we could meet elsewhere... Fort Payne?

In the meantime, thanks for stimulating thought and encouraging discussion with this economics lesson (and your blogs in general)!

3:28 PM  
Blogger magistramater said...

Wait up! Can I come to the knitting lesson too? Since I have no plans to come to Alabama in the near future, I guess you can go ahead without me.

I have friends who gardened this way: they only grew produce which was superior in taste to the grocery store produce.

For many, gardening is the equivalent to your knitting: a fulfilling hobby. Me, I love the *idea* of a garden, but hold back from the hard work of it...

4:02 PM  

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