Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mowing in the Rain

It's raining here today, a much needed reprieve from the 95+ temps we've had all week.

So I hear the sound of a mower, and I have to wonder, who's mowing in the rain?
Oh, it's the lawn service our neighbor hired, who come every Thursday morning, rain or shine.

Which got me thinking about simplification. Does it simplify our lives to hire workers to do what we ourselves could do, but think we don't have time for?

My neighbor is a long haul trucker who tinkers on 1950's autos in his spare time, and incidentally, hates lawn work. So in his case, it isn't a lack of time.

He has a 20 year old son living there, who could be mowing, couldn't he? He doesn't look disabled as he plays hacky-sack on the back patio with his friends.

What have we taught the next generation?

My sister had a cleaning service for a while. (Read: maid)
As her kids got older, she asked the maid to stop cleaning their rooms, so that they would have to do it. My sister wanted her kids to be responsible for cleaning at least their own space. The kids resented this, and thought it didn't make sense.

After a while, my sister got tired of their protests and got rid of the maid. Now the kids help clean the whole house, with regular chores assigned to them. I think this will be better in the long run, that the kids know how to clean, strighten up, dust, vacuum, wash dishes, do loads of laundry and all of the other chores that make up running a house.

Teaching our children household chores takes time, and seems more complicated (less simple) than hiring help. And I suppose a distributistic argument could even be made for providing immigrants with jobs, for it is most often they who mow our lawns and become our cleaning women.

But what have we taught the children?


  1. Wait, 'provide them with jobs'? That's counter-revolutionary capitalist thinking, not distributist at all. Free citizens don't need to be provided with jobs, proletarians do.
    That said, of course, many maids have associations similar to perfunctory guilds. So, if you hire them, you're actually contracting with a craftsman (or -woman) to get some work done. All the other concerns you raised, though, are rather independent of economics, and depend on the situation (Casuistry! Casuistry!)

  2. Sorry, didn't finish the thought. It depends, of course, on whether you have kids who can do chores, in which case they should. Kids are probably cheaper than hired hands, one of the reasons there's more economic incentive for large families in an agricultural than an industrial economy.
    If your kids don't live at home, or you don't have any, you should do whatever chores you have the time and inclination (not to mention energy, etc) for, and hire others to do the rest.

  3. I would think it more in the Distributist mode of thinking to have your family help out with chores than to contract them out to illegals. How ever much we sympathize with the plight of poor folk from wretched Mexico (and we should feel for them) this is really not an economic issue but a familial one.

    Besides, illegals drive down the wages in many fields; the concern should be for the long-term effects on culture and way-of-life, rather that simply what's cheaper or easier.

    Although, cheaper and easier can be very attractive.

  4. But she didn't say illegal immigrants. Did you know there was a legal kind? Many people seem not to. And I'm guessing you don't live near the border.
    Kinda irritating, frankly, for an Arizonan, that the immigration debate seems to be dominated by Gringos who live on the East Coast. Sure, you guys just killed the indians, or waited for them to die off, and you were set, but out here, another country already existed. Arizona was once the northern half of the state of Sonora, and was ceded to the US in the Gadsden purchase. There are families here that were granted land by the Hapsburg monarchs. Mexicans are 'aliens' in Massachusetts, but in the Southwest, they've always been here.
    Now, I think illegal immigrants should be deported (although deporting all of them isn't feasible), because they are breaking the law. But "the long-term effects on culture and way-of-life," which will be the same with legal immigration, will be great. Good Mexicans are better human beings, frankly, than Americans, even the good ones: harder-working, more honest, with a bourgeois sense of respectability straight out of a nineteenth-century French village. They've got a real peasant tradition, they aren't afraid to have a throwdown, and their instant coffee is an opaque pitch black!
    And even the atheists'll probably punch you in the mouth if you blaspheme the Virgin of Guadalupe. You think it's a coincidence the patron saint of the Americas, the Virgin of Guadalupe, appeared in Mexico? The Ciuapiltzin Coatlaxopeuh (The Lady who crushes the snake's head) watched over the victory at Lepanto, don't let's forget, and her image is one of the greatest miracles of all time.
    Basically, give me a few good Mexicans any day over spineless American yes-men. They're like Belloc's stories of his days in a French regiment. Americans, most of them, are more like one of Baring's satires of a society party.

  5. It occured to me just after I finished the above, that one would give Mrs. Brown credit for not hiring illegal aliens, at least not knowingly. That is a crime, after all.

  6. Bless you Tom.
    ~ John Peterson

  7. Thank you, Tom. I was speaking about legal immigrants, or even second generationers who perhaps haven't got the skills to enter Corporate America, or who are smart enough to be self-employed.


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