One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

24th May

Reading and washing dishes is about all I seem to have time for these days, but which activity is more worthwhile?

Competing for my attention between a sink full dirty of pots and pans are a bevy of interesting authors, one of which happens to have another curious name: Riane Eisler.

I am enjoying reading her book The Real Wealth of Nations possibly because it appears to be a serious, credible and well researched version of my own essay about love. My Aunt (who gave me the book) will be happy to know that as early as the second chapter, Eisler puts her finger on possibly the hottest issue concerning every household, that is: "who did the dishes last?"

Skeptics beware, this seemingly unimportant arguing point of domestic politics has the potential to change the world. Following Eisler's tip, I was able to find proof that even the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank consider dish-washing to be an important global consideration.

Admittedly, buried on page 542 of the enormous document describing the UN's System of National Accounts, issues of household harmony still have a lot of progress to make before they are considered to be as important as a nation's Gross Domestic Product. However the few paragraphs on the subject do contain some real gems like the following:

"The question of valuing household services produced for own consumption is interesting in its own right.... The basic question in valuing the time spent on household services is whether to use the opportunity cost of the person performing the task or a comparator cost. Both of these present difficulties. The opportunity cost seems appealing because application of economic theory suggests that somebody capable of earning more money than the comparator would indeed earn the extra money and pay somebody else to undertake the household tasks. But this is clearly not what happens in practice."

Clearly. From a mathematical and monetary perspective, it doesn't seem to make sense: Why not find a cheap nanny (or a robot) to raise your children while you spend your time more "valuably" earning more money than the person (or nation) next to you? I sincerely hope that any would-be economist can see how this one little statement puts their work, and the game of making more money than the next person (or nation) clearly into perspective. If they are still having trouble understanding this, might I suggest they ask their mother to explain it to them.

Which is more worthwhile? I would love to write more on the subject, but the increasing trail of ants leading toward my sink is telling me that my time might be better spent elsewhere right now.