Happy Capital Day
Labor Day is the first Monday in September, a day when we honor and celebrate all the value we get from the fact that other people choose to work, instead of just having fun. Yes those people were paid for their work, but taxes and economies of scale and clumping mean that the rest of us also gain. So why not give most of them a day off to honor their help?
Fun forgone, however, is not the only thing that creates value. We economists also speak of "capital," including cleared land, domesticated animals, buildings, equipment, techniques, inventions, businesses, and pretty much anything useful that we struggle to create. So following a few previous observers, it seems to me we should also have a Capital Day to celebrate the value we gain from these things. And in the spirit of making Capital Day a "mirror" of Labor day, let me suggest that Capital Day be the first Monday in March, half a year in both directions from Labor Day. That is, today.
Now it will be hard to give capital the day off. But just as on Labor Day we may pause to notice the busboy who would usually escape our notice, today let us notice the capital around us, without which we would be impoverished and uncivilized. Let us also wonder if we take capital too much for granted. Do we neglect the ways in which we may discourage its creation or maintenance?
Economists usually call the value we get from education and training "human capital," and the value we get from maintaining our health "health capital." Most of the wages workers get actually compensate them for investing in these sorts of capital, rather than the choice to work now instead of having fun. So most of the value we get from "work" comes from capital, not labor. Take that, Labor Day.