Bristol in the stone age

29th April, 2006

Dear Economist,

I want to pay someone to redecorate the kitchen, rather than slave over the paint pots myself – not only because I hate DIY but also, as a professional, I want my wealth to trickle down through society. However, my husband says we should all do our own manual work so that when the oil runs out we’ll have the skills to tackle any job. What do you think?

Marion de Berker, Bristol

Dear Mrs de Berker,

You are both confused. You will not create any “trickle-down” wealth if you decide to pay a professional decorator instead of working on your kitchen in your spare time. If you do it yourself, the money you would have paid to the decorators will instead be spent on holidays, restaurants or clothes. I am not sure why you think your decorator deserves the cash, rather than the waiter or the travel agent.

Perhaps you’re afraid that if you don’t hire a decorator, the cash will be unspent for a while and nobody will benefit from receiving it.

But your restraint will free up resources for investment, and future generations will be richer.

The reason to get the decorators in is that they’ll do it better than you, and it will take less time to earn the money to pay them than to do it yourself.

Meanwhile, your husband shows signs of advanced paranoia. Send him away on a paintball weekend and have the decorators in while he’s gone…

Continued at

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