Thursday, December 3, 2009

myth of diy

I want to do a little economics lesson. I was an English major, sure, but I've always been fascinated by economics, particularly in games like World of Warcraft. They're fun little microcosms of flawed economies. (Google "WoW economics" and delight in the nerd-strosity). DIY is also a pretty flawed economic argument.

Often when bloggers talk about DIY, saving money is the subtext, if not the supporting argument. But I can refute this immediately and that's because of economies of scale and opportunity cost. Sure, you could make 10 tissue poms in 5 hours on a Saturday. And yes, your materials may only cost $15. But you just spent 5 hours making them, for which there is an opportunity cost. So unless you consider yourself slave labor, you have to pay yourself for your time. At $7/hr, you just spent $50 on tissue pom construction. How much does a set of 10 poms cost on etsy? $30 (she has a sale - by 7, get 3 free!)

How is the etsy set so much cheaper? Well that crafter probably has a little craft sweat shop going, or at least an assembly line process. Even if she does it by herself, she can purchase in bulk and is faster at making them than you.

The point of all of this is not to discourage DIY; I have a few projects I'm working on/planning. The point is, it's almost never cheaper and you shouldn't feel pressured to do it unless you actually enjoy crafting. At first I thought I should be doing this gocco thing - but I realized I had no interest in it, it was just THE DIY thing to do. I'm doing projects I really want to do and know I'd be good at.

DIY the things you really want to make yourself. Don't feel bad about purchasing pre-made items. Don't start an apiary so you can have honey favors. Remember e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g has an opportunity cost.

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