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When you talk about humane economy, this is where you maybe consider that there are human and humane effects to all this economic gobbledygook that we’re all besieged and heaped upon us every day, like you just heard. Roepke had recounted a story where he had met the great Ludwig von Mises. This is all in the theme here of not everything is economic. Not everything has a dollar symbol attached to it. We’ve got to purge this idea from our head. Let me share this quick story with you. I think it’s one of the better ones from Mises, as Mises is a visitor of Roepke. Check out today’s transcript for more…

I want to play for you, ladies and gentlemen, what I heard this morning on the way into the studio. I normally edit these things up and only play you the pertinent part of the digital media file. What do we call it? We call it culling audio. We cut all the extemporaneous stuff out and only play you the actuality from the person that delivered it. I think it’s better in this instance to actually play this in real-time so you get the real bimbotic flavor of it. Did I just say that? Is that a word? Can you write me a tweet to ask whether or not the word bimbotic is an actual word? We could hashtag that. This is from the early edition of Fox and Friends. The pertinent part of it is at the end. What you’re listening for here, and what had me screaming at the radio, is all of family life can now be boiled down to whether or not it’s good for the housing market. Really? Seriously? Is that how cynical we look at life now? In context, what I heard, 4:03 a.m. this morning, Fox and Friends First.

Female 1: Let’s talk about this. More American families are moving in together. This time, we’re not talking about young people, necessarily, it’s people in their 30’s and 40’s and older.

Female 2: Adults are living together, doubling up to deal with the economy. If you look at the numbers from the Census Bureau, between 2007 and 2010, we saw an 11 percent increase in adults living together. That’s 69 million adults. It’s even more disturbing if you look at the younger American kids moving back home with their parents. Look at these numbers. They increase to just about 16 million of them. That’s bad for the housing market.

Female 1: Wait, from 1.2 million to over 15 million?

Female 2: Yeah. Right out of college, you can’t get a job.

Female 1: And that affects the housing market because normally these people might be buying their first homes?

Female 2: Yeah, the first-time home buyer. That’s what kind of drove the housing market for so many years, and it’s not recovering because aren’t buying homes and all the furnishings that go with those homes.

Female 1: Oh, got it.

We can’t have that, now can we? I don’t believe that there is a concerted effort here to do this, I just think this is the way people are trained to talk these days, and this is the way that they do talk in network news. What offended my sensibilities was this idea that if your children move back into your home with you, they’re screwing the economy up. How dare they? The idea here that families are reassembling is a horror. We must deal with this as if this is the drop of a nuclear weapon. Kids can’t move back in with their parents. If they do that, then a house won’t be built.

I had the story, I actually looked this up, the story from the Census Bureau. It’s from Reuters. The Census Bureau says that this argument is actually happening by large, staggering, shocking numbers, children are moving back in with their parents. We’ve never seen anything like this and it is affecting the housing market. I got to thinking about this. If that is how every story is to be judged by what effect it does or does not have, or every action is to be judged by what effect it does or does not have on the housing market, then what else can we discuss here that had deleterious effects on housing market, healthcare market, and all the other markets out there? If we’re going to slice and dice all these things and make them so that they’re only just economic considerations, then all we’re going to get out of these things is economic discussions and considerations. Is there anything else to life?

Here it is, “Adult children move back home in tough economy.”

More adult children moved in with their parents amid the recent tough economic times in the United States, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released on Wednesday. The number of adult children living with parents increased 1.2 million to 15.8 million between 2007 and 2010. Those ages 25 to 34 accounted for two thirds of the 823,000 increase in adult children living with parents during that period, according to the report. The 2007-09 recession, the longest and deepest since the Great Depression of the 1930s, decimated household wealth and erased 8.8 million jobs.

We know that whole thing. My point is to discuss or bring up the rest of our life, which doesn’t have anything to do with economics. It reminded me that I should go to the Imaginative Conservative website and I should find this great essay written by the great conservative thinker Dr. Russell Kirk back in the day. Kirk had actually dealt with a very similar issue. Kirk had become friends with Henry Ford. Kirk had asked him questions about: What do you think has happened since the advent of mass manufacturing industrialization, people moving out of their homes, moving far away to live by themselves? Henry Ford’s answer was surprising to Kirk. He didn’t get the answer that he thought he was going to get. Here’s what Kirk wrote about Henry Ford.

mention Henry Ford in this connection not because I mistake him for a conspicuous example of the inhumane capitalist, but rather, because he retained some sense of community and some respect for our cultural patrimony. At large expense, he had undertaken several attempts toward reconciling the old rural order with the new urban industrial life. For one thing, he had purchased and restored water mills in small towns of southern Michigan – Plymouth, Nankin Mills, Waterford, and elsewhere – with the intention of maintaining industrial employment on a humane scale and nurturing smalltown life. He made available small garden plots near these mills to Ford employees who might wish to cultivate their own vegetables and flowers; at the Plymouth mill, my uncle, a Ford chemist, was the only person to request and work such a garden. Although doubtless Henry Ford would not have employed the word “proletarian,” these experiments were meant to help factory hands keep from sinking into a proletarian condition. But all was abandoned at Ford’s death; and the Ford Foundation, inheritor of most of his great wealth, has wasted its benefactions in grandiose abstract schemes that do nothing to humanize the economy.

Kirk is writing here about the great economist Wilhelm Roepke. When you talk about humane economy, this is where you maybe consider that there are human and humane effects to all this economic gobbledygook that we’re all besieged and heaped upon us every day, like you just heard. Roepke had recounted a story where he had met the great Ludwig von Mises. This is all in the theme here of not everything is economic. Not everything has a dollar symbol attached to it. We’ve got to purge this idea from our head. Let me share this quick story with you. I think it’s one of the better ones from Mises, as Mises is a visitor of Roepke. Roepke told Russell Kirk this.

Roepke told me once, apropos such alternative means of subsistence in industrial society, of an amusing exchange between himself and Ludwig von Mises – who, though agreeing with Roepke in a good many matters, was a disciple of Jeremy Bentham in his utilitarianism. During the Second World War, the city of Geneva had made available to its citizens plots of ground along the ring around the city where the ancient walls had stood. On these allotments, in time of scarcity of food, the people of Geneva, particularly the laboring folk, could cultivate vegetables for themselves. These allotments turned out to be so popular, both as a recreation and as a source of supplementary food, that the city continued to make this land available to applicants after the war was over.

Now Mises, who had been professor years before at the Geneva Institute of International Affairs, came to visit Roepke in Geneva, about 1947. Happy at the success of these garden allotments, Roepke took his guest to see Genevan workingpeople digging and hoeing in their gardens. But Mises shook his head sadly: “A very inefficient way of producing foodstuffs!” he lamented. “Perhaps so,” Roepke replied. “But perhaps a very efficient way of producing human happiness.”

This is a revised transcript from The Mike Church Show. Books mentioned in this article are available at The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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Published: Jun 23, 2012
Author
Mike Church
Mike Church is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He is the host of The Mike Church Show on Sirius Satellite Radio. A radio talk show host, author, filmmaker, and singer/songwriter, he is best known for his fearless ability to skewer liberals and fake conservatives with searing, in‐depth analysis. He was named “The Most Radical Man On The Radio” by “The American Conservative.” He can be heard on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 166 & 14 from 6:00-9:00 a.m. (EST) Monday through Friday.
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3 replies to this post
  1. I was struck by that story and essay as well and have told it many times since reading it here, especially when gushing over our vegetable garden. I do wonder if perhaps, instead of it indicating that everything isn't about economics, it means that economics isn't just about the bottom line and generating wealth in an efficient way. If economics as a philosophy seeks to teach us about motives, we need to understand that human beings do not always act in predictable ways.

  2. As in "home economics" which in one of his moments of clarity in GOP debates, Rick Santorum waxed about the Greek meaning of the word: it applied to matters of managing the home.

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