Cottage Industry

Cottage Industry

OP-ED

Valentine is a fashion designer who has been implementing the cottage industry portion of his theoretical economic model in the real world by employing craftspeople to produce his clothing, shoes, boots, and hat designs in their homes and small businesses. While Valentine is focused particularly on shoe making, boot making, shirt making, pant making and hat making, many other products, supplies and services may be easily provided by various small business cottage industries in America.

The cost savings to the employer lies in not having to purchase or lease or operate a manufacturing facility: no real estate costs, no parking costs, no physical liability costs, no maintenance costs, no utilities, no equipment, no worker’s compensation and no health insurance costs. Some of those savings will be passed on to employees who will be contractors, and some to the consumer. Under The Valentine Constitution (TVC), non elective basic health care will be free and cottage contractors and small businesses will have as much access to business credit, our Federal Reserve and Treasury as any fortune 500 company or bank while bank spreads will be prohibited. TVC eliminates payroll tax and all other taxes in favor of a single tax of 5% on every buyer and seller in each and every transaction without exception.

The cost savings to the employee lies in not having to drive to work or pay for day care, a 50% savings annually. Few have done the math. The 1-hour commuter loses one quarter of her earning hours each year: 2 hours per day,10 hours per week, 40 hours per month, 3 months per year of stressful drive time which could instead be spent gainfully working at home while not having to pay someone else to see her child say their first words or take their first steps. Add to those savings the costs of the car, automotive insurance, maintenance and fuel, and an increase in compensation from an employer able to pay more from saving so much, and it’s a a doubling of earnings when all is said and done. And we could spend far less on infrastructure.

The subcontractor sewing or cobbling at home on their own clock may supervise their own child(ren) in clear visibility of their workspace, adding still more value by avoiding day care costs and being able to witness their children growing up. Contractors living in the same community may take turns watching each other’s kids freeing others up to work while giving preschool children important social time with other kids. Any manner of arrangements may be made to add value to the cottage industry model. An 8 hour day would not be mandatory. Instead hours would be flexible enough to allow a a 10, 40 or 80 or any hour work-week to be worked whenever the subcontractor desires. All of these savings will provide a living wage and happier life for all involved.

Valentine is taking his theory of the cottage industry into the reality of the American marketplace and realizing that the practice will need to become widespread in order to succeed. In the fashion industry for example Valentine ran immediately into the problem of sourcing the materials required to make shirts, pants, shoes, boots and hats. Finding American made materials and supplies is impossible today! No fabric is made in the USA! No hides are tanned in the USA! Few hide animals are farmed. Invasive species like pythons, steelheads, nutria, coyotes and wild boars are allowed to breed out of control and destroy American food chains without being harvested for furs, hides, skins and leathers. And so another opportunity to kill two birds with one stone is missed. The rejuvenation of our fabric mills and looms large or individual, and the making of supplies like threads, notions, needles and sewing machines, would add sorely needed jobs and innovative light local manufacturing in support of cottage and small business craftspeople. Quality material is now difficult to source in small quantities, making it nearly impossible for the kitchen start up to make samples of their designs, and absolutely impossible to make them from American sourced materials. The inability to provide the fashion subcontractor with the fabric and hides and supplies they need therefore precludes their employment and kills the cottage industry model before it has a chance to show its power. A lack of demand has further stifled innovation and sourcing of zippers, hat clasps, bolo string sliders, non toxic fabrics, not to mention accessories of all kinds. All of these could be made in a cottage environment providing even more cottage and light industry jobs here at home engendering successful, healthier, happier lifestyles and communities. Why pay foreigners when we can create a truly free market American model enabling our Citizens to live fulfilling lives creating products for other Citizens? TVC removes the profit killing hindrance of middle men and fees which have stifled access to our own economy, destroyed our middle class, and kept us instead in what Marxists criticize as “late stage” crony capitalism created by greedy multinational monopolies who have invoked “might makes right” to rob us of our free market democracy and its important values.

Economies of scale and schedule may be achieved if cottage industries were prevalent, as they were when America was self reliant. With new measuring technologies, fashion can be custom fitted whether direct to consumer or piece work for a label. Cutting may now be done by feeding those measurements into computers operating robotic cutters either large, or small as the personal cutter becomes as affordable as the personal computer did. Some may make only insoles, others only laces, or eyelets, or aglets. Some may sew the same shoe or shirt all the time while others may want to sew different styles or products. There is plenty of work to go around and plenty of competitively priced source materials to be made. Cranking out heels or shirts while catching a sporting event or the soaps on one’s home flat screen is a great part or full time job for many sports or soaps fanatics for example. Many of these jobs are safe from robot outsourcing since robots cannot sew or perform the other intricate jobs that give us quality fashion products, especially the affordably priced varietal custom ones we will naturally exclusively desire.

The mutual support of cottage industry workers for the products of their fellow cottage industry professionals, along with a constitutional provision requiring 75% of all goods sold in America to be made in America, would prevent suicidal outsourcing. The availability of source materials and contractors will encourage start up designers and custom loving customers in what is destined to become a mix-and-match, create-your-own environment demanding more and more independent individual contractors as we keep up with the Jones’s. Innovation will follow to meet the limitless demands of picky consumers. Specialty boots for roofers, comfy heels for the ladies, orthotic inner soles for diabetics, the list is endless. As competition flourishes, so will innovation. TVC’s built in rating system will force the cream to rise to the top. The fast, easily accessible court system will eliminate rip-offs. American products will once again be in demand. Export revenues and American know-how will improve our trade balance. And we will add jobs here at home.

In 1980 when Valentine was an Elite model in New York city, 85% of our clothing was made in America, and we exported plenty as well. Today it’s 5%! Cheap toxic products made in China require replacement far more often than a quality American products did. A higher price point is worth the increased value of a long-lived and beautifully crafted product, a pair of shoes, boots, pants, hat or shirt. Valentine has beautiful 30+ year old shoes made by an old Hungarian cobbler in Beverly Hills from Valentine’s design at a cost of $600 in 1990. Magic Johnson, a customer whose foot Valentine’s shoes fit perfectly, ordered many pairs. Style has its own value, especially in this vain, materialistic age. The shoes are hand made, fit like gloves, and are ergonomic/orthopedic, resulting in comfort as well as savings in medical care for the feet. Cottage industry is a win/win situation that rewards the craftsman, the customer and society alike.

Valentine has witnessed far too many American craftsmen in their old age working alone with no apprentices in sight! For these craftsmen to not pass on their expertise the younger generations is a sin. Our children graduate from high school and college and know not what to do! Grown men and women ill prepared for the reality. TVC’s school curriculum, beyond the scope of this treatise, ensures that our children both discover then develop their gifts into money making jobs and businesses including apprenticeships and mentorships of all kinds and hands on real world skills practiced in every aspect of the school, since every department will be a learning environment.

Another sin is wearing clothing made in foreign countries by predominantly female workers who are routinely raped by the management of their sweatshops, are forced to live in close quarters, sleep in triple bunk beds, fed a subsistence diet, and are lucky to get half a day off each week or to ever see their children who live far away. And we Americans are wearing those sins on our backs daily, usually made of cancer causing synthetic fabrics. It’s a big fat lose lose. It’s not right and there’s going to be hell to pay for it, a hell brought to us courtesy of a few immoral, corrupt, greedy types responsible for the disappearance of our jobs, our water supply, our ice caps and our food chains. The Valentine Constitution remains the only possibility for the fulfillment of our passions and gifts and the survival of the human race. They’re both connected, and the clock is ticking.