General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

What if it was against the law to sell anything you didn't make yourself?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10271points) September 19th, 2010

It occurred to me that if people had to buy things from the individuals that grew, or made them, life would slow down and maybe be more enjoyable. Maybe it would be a major step back. What do you think?

This encompasses theories on parts of wholes, and what it is to make something at all. For me, I consider the person with an apple orchard the grower of an apple. If you had to buy your apples from an apple farm, wouldn’t that be more interesting than simply picking it up from the grocer.

So a recipe with a wide variety of ingredients would a) take quite an adventure or b) require a visit to a farmer who has a wide variety of crops.

If this system were to exist for long enough, would there be any difference between the exchange system we have now?

Eventually wouldn’t one farmer eventually own many of all sorts of production facilities?

To me it seems that the difference would be a certain amount of pride, and patience, that would be inherent and refreshing.

I understand, and agree with, the benefits of our capitalist model. Individuals are able to contract in whatever way they like, and produce the intricate merchandising fabric we all participate in.

But in a time when farmer’s markets are booming, there must be something to this.

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25 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

Interesting. I don’t know if this would slow things down or lead to vertical integration (and conflict with antitrust laws as well), because we have to consider what “yourself” would mean.

For instance, corporations have legal personality. Therefore, arguably anything a corporation currently sells to a retailer, wholeseller, etc., it “makes him or herself.”

What would then be required is that the middlemen would be cut out/absorbed into the corporate model. Therefore, you wouldn’t really go to the grocery store, but the Monsanto store (super scary).

marinelife's avatar

It would negate almost all of technology.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Seriously, do you think 1 person could make all the parts for anything as complicated as the computer you are using right now? And if he could he could only sell it to those people nearby him so he would never recoup he’s investment. So why should he bother?

marinelife's avatar

Because circuit boards cannot be manufactured by individuals.

iamthemob's avatar

@Lightlyseared – that’s not one of the assumptions. The details indicate the possibility that individuals could make the parts and then sell the parts to the company which builds the computer. Therefore, we’d have a situation where pretty much each party on the manufacturing chain would be an independent contractor.

@Ltryptophan – and that brings up an interesting issue. If that’s the model, don’t we end up losing a lot of the rights against discrimination applied to employees (i.e., there are specific rights that an employee can invoke that are not available to independent contractors)?

Ltryptophan's avatar

It’s just a thought. What if it was limited to food production. I am not suggesting this should be done, just looking for a reasonable discussion of the pluses and minuses

iamthemob's avatar


What are you looking to do with this? I think I get it – but I’m assuming you’re looking for a reduction in CAFO-type industry (industrial farming, etc.).

If that’s the case, I think a limit on the distance basic (not luxury) food stuff could be transported might be a more viable option.

Ltryptophan's avatar

No, I just think that when someone makes something and carries it through to market execution…there’s just something nice about it. I like it.

I wonder how big that idea could get before it lost that “nice” effect.

Zaku's avatar

Interesting idea, which is interesting to just notice how many things are in the way of this idea now (tons – check how many things today are imported, mainly from China) compared to how many things were in the way of this idea 70 years ago (far fewer) or 125 years ago (far fewer still), 200 years ago, etc. And it’s not just technology, but corporate domination and international trade, as well as what people know how to make, and what the scope is of what they can and do do for themselves..

jaytkay's avatar

Sounds like a dismantling of society akin to what the Khmer Rouge did to Cambodia.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@jaytkay has stated something very constructive. Because it is a step in a direction. That step is how a discussion is begun.

Now, the Khmer Rouge…bad. So, that must be one end of the spectrum. Let me postulate the other end of the spectrum. I gather a lot of information (from a system that probably would be defunct if this idea took root to the point of Khmer Rouge) about the growing of the best tomatos. I grow ten tomato plants of the best quality. When the tomatos arrive. I try a ripe one and it is better than the best tomato I have ever tasted. It is something special.

I take 40 tomatos to a local farmers market and put samples out. When people taste them they start turning cart wheels, shouting eureka, and running about insisting that others put them in their mouths.

There is a certain charm here. Now, where does the charm stop and the Khmer Rouge begin?

Pandora's avatar

Everyone would be tired. Although I would like to see the return or the fresh meat market. There are so few of them today. And I agree with @Lightlyseared.
In bad winters we would starve since we would have to import our fruits and veggies but they won’t be hear to sell their stuff.
Bad idea. All around.
How about our water? Nobody makes that. So who gets to sell it?

Ludy's avatar

I WOULD LOVE LIFE TO BE LIKE THIS on every aspect, becasue my life goes very fast i am used to everything to go a little slower that way everything would, not only me, I totally get your point, not so literally, but i get your point…

Ltryptophan's avatar

@pandora The “making” of water is the service of its collection, or purification. The owner of the land with a spring gets to charge for the water she collects…. This is not so different than it is now. What would be different is that the seller of the spring water would have to directly sell you that water. You could not have a third party water seller who had nothing to do with the water production.

jaytkay's avatar

Super. We can all walk to the well in the morning and haul a couple of buckets home.

Oh, wait, there is no well. I live in a city, so everybody walks a few miles to the lake and carries home a bucket of water in the morning.

So no flush toilets.

Where do I poop? How about people in a 50-story high-rise? Out the window?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@jaytkay I think you are throwing the baby out with the bath water here…

jaytkay's avatar

@Ltryptophan How else can I get water under the rules?

Ltryptophan's avatar

Well, something like communal water, and other utilities aren’t like a product someone brings to market. They might win a bid for a contract if the utilities aren’t public, but then it’s done.

I intended the concept for private enterprise.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ltryptophan I just about have to laugh – how on earth are you going to come by the tomato seeds? Where did the water to grow them come from? How does one take 40 tomatoes to a market? Do you carry them? – How far do you go with your (most likely) bare feet. Why would anyone want to buy anything you made yourself? Is the quality better than anyone else?

The type of society you have postulated could only work for a population much less than the current world population. Even in the oldest days of the Native American people, there was a division of labor. Some people were hunters, they often used hunting implements made by other people, and definitely wore clothing made by other people.

Societies that live hand to mouth have very short life spans, and a rather high infant death rate, not to mention minimal medical benefits. There are many such societies in the world today, and you would certainly not choose to live there.

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Ltryptophan's avatar

First feel free to laugh at my expense. Second, “make yourself” was not a perjorative term meant to exclude anything you yourself didn’t waft out of non-existence. I wasn’t trying to avoid the laws of physics for sure. Energy still would not be created or destroyed within the system, I promise.

My example of bringing tomatos to market was intended as part of the life we currently live in this economic system, and how it is possible for someone to make something themselves and take it to market themselves with no middleman. What I was saying there was that somewhere between that very real reality, that goes on every saturday around here, and the sad situation faced under the auspices of the Khmer Rouge there might be a place where the charm of hasn’t worn off, but people still have the mandate to sell only what they make. Would it work, I don’t know…that’s why its a discussion about how it might work. But the dispatching of what I was saying by taking a very unfounded simple concept of what I was saying and taking hold of it like your favorite chew toy because you want to quickly void my notions is just base, and comical.

Next, you affirmed that the society you think I postulated would only work for less than 6 billion people. This was supported by the lives of the Native Americans. All I have to say to this set of comments is that they are just so unscientific and irrelevant as phrased that it would take supreme court like restructuring to see where the intended merit contained therein might fit. I’m not on the supreme court but I’ll give it a go…

The most I could pull away from this part of your statements and still make them validly against my very bare bones concepts is that in the simplest of societies(Native Americans!!!!! ((which is offensive in itself and clearly the intention, beccause “even” definitely meant “primitive” in your context)) the members had a division of labor that was shared within the society. Which in itself is not a cohesive denigration of what little you were able to clearly disseminate from any part of my earlier postings. Since, the economic system I was describing is almost solely based on a stiff division of labor these comments more than not speak in favor of the approach I was suggesting. You would of course eat produce made by other people. Which is a direct analogy to “wore clothing worn by other people”. The fact that these statements analogize means your comments were not successful in showing the Native Americans would not even consider this society type in that the most primitive of peoples. (unbelievable)

Societal life spans came next. Those that struggled with providing being affirmed to fail quickly, destroy babies, and I think have bad healthcare=minimal medicinal benefits. Then I was shown that these societies are existing (the societies I was mentioning exist somewhere??? even though it was unthinkable?), and informed that I would certainly not have the intestinal fortitude to make them my home. What silly oaths. You did not at all come to a coherent concept that the society you conceive I’ve postulated creates a situation where its members live hand to mouth. Therefore, I won’t discuss the results you proscribe would be its attributes.

I suppose the last sentence assumes that the society I had been discussing is perceived to be a place I want to live, and it is an attempt to dissuade me from that by showing that the societies that were not successfully shown to be similar are in shambles. The fact is however that I mentioned from the beginning that I didn’t know whether or not this would work. Since no clear similarity was shown to a woeful civilization I can’t say whether I would want to live at the society I was trying to discuss constructively.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ltryptophan I mentioned my own Native American ancestors as an example that even early societies shared their expertise, and those who could produce goods did, while others provided their own contribution. I did not say anything about primitive that is your own word. Any discussion can be valuable even with some humor inserted. A reductionist question just begs to be met with a great deal of skepticism.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@YARNLADY still seems that way about the Native Americans comment…they were my ancestors too

If you were looking to me for a question that was an elaborate doctoral assaye on microeconomic structures I think you had your hopes set too high.

I accept that you did not intend the comment as a shot at Native Americans.

I do hope in the future you will refrain from entering any discussion with an air of humor that is so dismissive, and instead try to more effectively and less brashly influence others of your opinion, which I am more than happy to adopt by the way.

Judge for yourself if I speak well or ill.

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