Receive Value from your Hobbies

So, over on the Book of Faces, there was this.


If she hadn’t put in that bit about “A capitalist lie” I would have zero disagreement with the post–which, as people might imagine, is pretty rare for me.  I don’t even agree with myself all the time.  And, yes, that’s as confusing as you might imagine.

That one statement, however, is so completely at odds with what capitalism is–the voluntary exchanges of goods and services at prices set by the free market–that it boggles the mind.

However, perhaps the poster is confusing “value” with “money.”

The thing about capitalism and the free market is that every individual is allowed to put whatever value they want on anything.  The only thing is, anyone they are trading with also gets to do so.  I can value that workhorse Explorer in my garage at $10,000 if I want in that I wouldn’t trade it for less than that (maybe sentimental value–its market value isn’t anywhere close to that).  That doesn’t mean anyone’s going to offer me $10,000 (see “market value isn’t anywhere close to that”). And, unless I find somebody who values it more than I value it, then the trade doesn’t happen.  There’s no way I’m going to get $10,000 for that Explorer.  But the price I could sell it for is not its value.  The value is what it would take, the least valuable thing I would accept as a fair trade for it.

Of course in reality I’m not particularly attached to that Explorer.  I need the cargo capacity.  Between my daughter’s hockey gear, her cello, her Baritone sax, and (now trombone of all things!) small cars just will not do.  (The Miata sits sadly and forlornly in the garage awaiting the day I’ll be able to get it on the road again.)  I also want at leat minimal off-road capability and something that’s reasonably comfortable on longer drives (like, say, my drives down to LibertyCon).  It serves all those purposes and any trade will have to equally well serve those purposes before I’ll make it voluntarily.

With hobbies, the question isn’t whether they make money.  That’s not the value they bring to most people.  One of my own hobbies is ice skating. (Oh, no!  Really?) And that costs money.  The skates–I needed good quality skates, professionally fitted because of my foot issues–were…not cheap.  Lessons cost $144 per eight mostly weekly sessions.  OTOH, while I’m in lessons skating during the public skate times at the rink is free.  Two sessions a week and it evens out.  I try for four and so come out well ahead.  Still, that’s $18 a week (average) for a hobby that’s never going to pay me a dime.  Disney on Ice is never going to hire me as a company skater and certainly not as a featured performer.  I might get hired on as a skate guard but that wouldn’t possibly pay enough to justify quitting my current job.

But the money I could earn at it isn’t the value.  The exercise and improvement in my health and fitness therefrom is a value.  The sense of accomplishment as I learn new techniques and new “tricks” (my backward one-foot glides are starting to come along) is a value.  The fun and enjoyment I get from rounding the rink and feeling the rush of my blades moving over the ice and an actual wind in my face from the movement is a value.

Value does not mean money.  Value is a personal thing.  Value is what you would trade to have something or, conversely, what you would accept to give something up.

$144 every two-ish months.  I value the ice skating more than that.  Therefore I’m willing to trade that money to make it happen.  And I will continue so long as I don’t need that money to trade for something I value more (like, say, my daughter’s well-being).

So, as long as you value your hobbies more than their cost–and you’re not giving up something you value more to do so–and that includes not demanding other people to cover the cost for what you value–then indulge.

It’s the capitalist way.

7 thoughts on “Receive Value from your Hobbies”

  1. Some hobbies have the potential to make money.
    Post retirement I bought a craft cutter and drifted into a small scale custom t shirt business.
    I found out that the demands of business erased the joy of the hobby.
    Even though I saw the potential to make money, I valued the fun more, and soon drifted out of the very small business.
    I enjoy my hobbies, and I don’t want them to turn into jobs.
    As you advised, I will continue to indulge.


    1. That’s actually one of the great thing about Capitalism. If someone wants to make the jump of taking something they are good at and use it to make money, they can.
      And if they’re not good enough at it to get people to pay then for doing it, they’re forced to go back and do something more productive for society. Instead of mangling words and torturing eardrums or eyeballs.


  2. That is so funny. I wonder if she seriously thinks that is the definition of capitalism, that you don’t do anything unless it pays, or if she is just throwing anti-capitialist words into random sentences because she is so “woke”. My guess is she is too stupid to actually understand the complexities and definitions and so is taking the easy way out by declaring everything to be the fault of evil capitalism.

    On a lighter note, I’ve noticed that about half the blogs I go to now don’t save my details so I have to type them in each time. I haven’t figured out what the common denominator is. Weird.


  3. After thinking about this a bit I decided that maybe it’s a consequence of Boomers and even some of us borderline Boomers pushing the idea of pursuing your bliss… thing is, your bliss still needs to pay the bills. Maybe we should move more toward telling young people to FUND their bliss. Then their “bliss” can be off key amateur fun.


  4. I suspect she doesn’t like capitalism because no one will give her money for her terrible art (or useless degree in same), and she thinks that Comrade Bernie would.


  5. Lots of good people, who’d like to be rich and are willing to work at, call themselves capitalists. I don’t think so many of the really rich are as willing to call themselves capitalists as entrepreneurs or even just business men.

    “Capitalism” does have the bad name of being about making money. As the main thing. As the only thing.
    It has this bad name because the folks mostly talking about it are against it, and they label those who only care about money as “capitalists”, and they’re against them. This is the straw man argument.

    But there are, a few, people who do seem far more interested in making money than anything else. That’s a mistake. Money is a big value, but not the only value. Materialistic comfort, which most of the anti-capitalists still want, comes more from a market capitalistic system than any other.

    However, Chinese “commie”-capitalism, more like crony capitalism with market based price setting for many goods, perhaps “market Communism”(?), has been fantastic for the average Chinese person. Far better than the corrupt capitalism of post Opium War humiliation of China by the West, plus the Sun Yat Sen, Chiang Kai Shek; then Mao and terrible socialist Communism.

    Monetizing everything is a “materialist” lie – calling such monetizing “good”, and saying any hobby is good only as much as it is monetizable. The idea that only monetizing something makes it good, that idea is a wrong. There’s not a good word for that wrong idea, so anti-capitalists have seen an idea-market opportunity to add that wrong idea as part of their description of capitalism.

    This woman, and the many many others like her, are victims of those anti-capitalists, but also show the idea weakness of the pro-capitalists in more completely describing what capitalism is. And better naming for materialism, and monetizing ideas that are related to, but not the same as, capitalism.


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