Saturday, February 21, 2004

Neo-Feudalism: Return of the Trades

Essay: A Prettier Jobs Picture?
[The Bureau of Labor Statistics] ... is much less adept at counting employees in small businesses, simply because there are too many small enterprises to representatively sample them. The bureau's occupational survey, which might suggest which jobs are growing, doesn't count self-employed people or partners in unincorporated businesses at all. And many of today's growing industries, the ones adding jobs even amid the recession, are comprised largely of small companies and self-employed individuals. That is particularly true for aesthetic crafts, from graphic designers and cosmetic dentists to gardeners. These specialists' skills are in ever greater demand, yet they tend to work for themselves or in partnerships.

Ahh, yes. The aesthetic crafts. Minstrels and gardeners, servants and carpenters. I had quite an interesting discussion the other day with a master carpenter who makes a fine living doing cabinets ... on yachts.

No more inheritance tax. Increasing concentration of wealth by inheritance, network effects ("winner take all"), regressive taxation and tax avoidance. It all adds up to an increasingly wealthy and powerful elite and an army of gardeners, entertainers, tradesman and craftsman to serve them. Don't send your children to college, let them be minstrels.

The last time we did this there were barons and kings upon the land, and the wealthy lived in walled cities surrounded by the heaving masses ...

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