Helen Lovejoy Political Economy: Unregulated Secret Dinner Parties
By Art Carden
Via Scott Shackford, at Reason, we learn of “The Scourge of Illegal, Underground Dinner Parties.” In short, people are paying to attend dinner parties featuring fancy food. And such transactions are unregulated.
Naturally, people are concerned. Presumably, some of those concerned parties are restaurants that are subject to heavy taxation and regulation that are nonetheless facing competition from the seedy purveyors of underground dinner parties. I don’t think the people concerned about unregulated dinner parties are going far enough. You know what else is unregulated? The kitchen at my house.
Think about what the means for a second. It means that my children–children, mind you–are being fed food that’s prepared in unregulated, uninsepected, and possibly less-than-sanitary conditions. The burgeoning field of Helen Lovejoy Political Economy demands that something must be done. For the children, of course.
There’s another issue here, as well: jobs. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that local restaurants are suffering, too, from the crippling competition my wife and I provide when we prepare meals for our kids. Yes, we have to pay for inputs, but my wife and I are willing to provide this service without expecting payment. We don’t even accept tips (not that they’ve been offered, but still).
The kids do their part, to be sure, but they’re doing so to the detriment of restaurateurs, waiters, waitresses, and dishwashers who are suffering because the kids are setting out their own plates, helping their parents fix parts of the meal, helping load the dishwasher, etc. My one-year-old might have looked cute when he was struggling to put the piece of silverware in the dishwasher a few days ago, but beneath that cute exterior there’s a harsh reality: he’s providing unregulated, bootleg labor that is undercutting the wages, working conditions, and standards of living of people who are perhaps unable to provide for their families at a standard of living to which they are accustomed.
You might balk at such a proposal, but consider the degree to which prohibiting home-cooked meals will encourage the national labour. First and foremost, it will create opportunities for restaurant proprietors, workers, and suppliers. The prosperity can only spread from there: poor James B. might consider himself ill-used by the fact that he is no longer permitted to cook his own food, but we shouldn’t countenance such short-sightedness. Yes, James B. can no longer cook his own food, but the money he spends on restaurant meals will raise the income of the restaurateur who will, in turn, increase the incomes of the tailor and cobbler by purchasing new suits and new shoes. They, in turn, will spend their new incomes and encourage the national labour further.
In short, our very prosperity is at stake here, and those who wish to regulate underground supper clubs are making a mistake in that they are not going far enough. I suggest that the offended parties petition the legislature for immediate prohibition of home-cooked meals.