Is DIY Anti-capitalist?

“If you want a job done right…work hard so you can afford to pay a professional to do it”

Not quite as catchy as the original but to me this variation (one of many pearls of wisdom passed on to me by my late grandfather) perfectly encapsulates the capitalist ideal and, perhaps more importantly, provides a great reason for me to avoid DIY.

When I was trying to choose a subject matter for this my inaugural blog I was very keen indeed to title it “why are high street banks so sh…oddy” and run off a verbal tirade against the backward thinking inefficiencies of our banking sector but my business partner @SanfordEdward suggested that this was possibly a little too negative an introduction and on reflection he was probably right.

You’ll therefore all have to wait a while for my righteous indignation piece and instead console yourself with this, my New Year’s gift to you – a perfectly constructed and economically sound excuse to never do any DIY again! What better way to blow away the #BlueMonday cobwebs?

Because let’s face it, that is where this theory originates - my hatred of and passionate desire to avoid any practical activity of which I am not a master.

So let me explain why that desire and the theory underpinning it are steeped in the capitalist traditions that I espouse….

Let us take an example. Let’s say that I need a set of custom made shelves for my living room. I basically have two options. I could either utilise my research and negotiation skills (my strengths) to identify the best skilled and most reasonably priced carpenter to undertake this task or I could (god forbid) have a crack at doing it myself.

In the first scenario I end up with a quality product / service provided in a timely fashion and I use the time I have saved to do what I do best (providing a great service to my clients). I’m happy, the carpenter is happy and my clients are happy.

In the second scenario I end up with a shoddy set of shelves at best (a pile of kindling at worst), a redundant carpenter and some hacked off clients (because I’m too busy messing about with bits of timber to provide them with the service they expect from me).

And so the UK economy goes into freefall once again and all because I tried my hand at DIY - how could I live with myself? The answer is that I couldn’t – and that is why it must never be allowed to happen!

My wife once pointed out an article to me that told of a man who had managed to put a monetary value on his time and made the decision to outsource any and all activities that he could procure at a lower rate. Now this may be an extreme example but what it illustrates is that the whole point of capitalism and supply and demand economics is to enable scarce resources to be allocated in the most efficient manner, which ultimately increases the productivity and wealth of everyone within the system.

I’m not quite sure why my wife showed me that article and I’m pretty certain that she regrets it now because that is what set me on course to develop this theory and excuse myself on moral principle from all future DIY activities.

My wife is of a very different mind-set to mine. The above illustration is actually true life. She ended up building those shelves herself and very nice they are too. The essential difference in her reasoning didn’t arise from any sense that the value of her time is lower than that of mine (she’s a doctor so very much the opposite) it’s that she, as well as being infinitely more practical than I, places a higher intangible value than I do on the pleasure and pride of having built or created something herself and that, if I’m being honest, is the fly in the ointment of my theory.

Billions of man hours being spent doing work that someone more skilled could have done for a fee. A horrible misuse of resources? Of course not.

See the fact is that, as Albert Einstein once said, “not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted”. Anathema to accountants maybe - but it’s true. There’s an intangible benefit to be considered in most activities that we undertake and much as I hate to admit it that does, to an extent, undermine my excuse… sorry my theory for DIY avoidance.

I’m still calling in a plumber for that leaky sink though – any recommendations?