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.