Food and Lodging

I wanted to say this is an enquiry into a particular subject but then I realized that that would be presumptuous. I do, however, want to suggest a perimeter for a subject that borders on economics. It bears on flow of wealth. Where do individuals get the stuff they need?—thus the title “Food and Lodging”. The unemployment rate includes only those “seeking employment”. I consider that a spurious predicate.

I want some numbers more than a bare list but I start with the latter.

You work for it; you create wealth.
This is sort of the economist’s silent default assumption. Perhaps I should split off self employed but not now.
You inherit it.
This raises the question of who you inherited it from and where did he/she get it, but I ignore that question.
You steal it.
I limit this category to violating law of your country, or if there is no law, its mores.
You live off your savings.
I could have said “Food and Lodging Now”.
You live in a commune.
You informally barter things and services. The most familiar communes are the family, convents and monasteries. Are there others today?
You are declared incompetent and live off the state.
There are still insane asylums and those who live independently but get money from the state due to their inability to make a living.
You are in jail.
Simple enough
You live off of friends.
A growing phenomenon.
You are a politician.
Notice that I do not include this in either stealing or working. How do we count it?
As each recent recession has ended I hear of technology replacing jobs with the suggestion that this will be a problem in the future. Employment figures that consider only those seeking employment do not help thinking about this.

Jeremy Bentham and Bertrand Russell inherited wealth which enabled them to leave us considerable wealth. I call what Euclid wrote “wealth”. It is perhaps too difficult to quantify and might be excluded on that basis, but we want to avoid social choices that discourage Euclids. I fear that we will make social choices that could be guided by such knowledge as this, but will not be. Perhaps we should exclude non-rivalrous things such as those produced by Euclid and Russell and stick to a more quantitative subject. That omits open source projects which would then become an important exogenous factor.

Many people have a substantial foot in two or more of these categories.

If economics is seen as money flow this subject is excluded. If economics is seen as value flow, our subject is included. Saving for retirement should be included in economics in either case.