Words of economics does come from the Greek word oikos, which means house, but economists never want to know what really happens inside the house. What has been called work from home around the world since the Covid-19 pandemic is ridicule, humiliation, neglect, humiliation, and even obvious economic injustice against anything women do at home.
Caring (humans, plants, animals), caring for people, cooking food, washing things, pleasing people, or basically anything that is done at home, which many women do from waking up in the morning to sleeping again at night, no can be recognized as working. And that is why it is forbidden to get the maximum wage / salary as soon as possible.
Of course there is no more ironic or even tragic example than a woman named Margaret Douglas. At the age of 28, Margaret Douglas gave birth to the only son to be known around the world: Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, author of the powerful book The Wealth of Nation An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Margaret’s husband died when she was about 3 months old. She was a widow and never married again.
At the age of 2, little Adam Smith inherited all of his father’s wealth. Margaret Douglas was only able to claim one-third of the inheritance. Practically, since her son was 2 years old, Margaret’s financial life depended on her son’s financial power. And Adam Smith’s living needs depended on Margaret’s widow until Margaret died at the age of 84 in 1778 (just two years after Adam Smith’s famous book was published).
In Adam Smith’s biography, John Rae writes, “His mother from beginning to end was the heart of Smith’s life.” It was Margaret Douglas who took care of Adam Smith and even continued to accompany him wherever he moved. Adam Smith was also assisted by his cousin, Janet Douglas, who died in 1788. This cousin was also an important person in Adam Smith’s home. On the eve of her death, Adam Smith wrote to her friend: “She [Janet] will leave me as one of the most lonely and helpless men in Scotland.”
However, as Katrine Marḉal pointed out, Adam Smith never included what his mother and cousin did as “economic activity”. There are major flaws in economics (classical and neoclassical including neoliberalism) and what is later called human economics (homo economics).
One of Adam Smith’s aphorisms in his most famous book, which later became the most widely discussed economic theory, reflects this flaw: -self. “
The economic man is rational (calculative-functional), individual, acts for personal selfishness and even very selfish, and of course greedy. And so it is said that the basic nature of the market is all-knowing of human interests. All these properties of homo economicus , if calculated collectively, are precisely good and bring prosperity to the nation (the wealth of nations).
However, although clearly fictional, in order to function homo economicus must reserve women’s activities as non-economic activities. Only men can act based on the fictional theory of homo economicus such as acting for self-interest. While women are prohibited from being selfish, they should not be materialistic – so women are money changers, and their activities are of much lower economic value. As Katrine put it, in economics, “love must be reserved in cans for personal use. Otherwise, everything will be ruined.” And that is the justification for the casting and lowering of women’s economic work.
Economics is driven by, in the words of Adam Smith, the invisible hand , while forcing and sacrificing women’s economic activity as the “invisible heart”. Economically competitive work is in the public space; women’s work should be in the economically unrecognized domestic realm. And even if it is considered a job, as Nobel laureate Gery Becker thinks, like the case of domestic workers employed by many Indonesian workers, his working hours are unforgivable, with very low salaries. Women’s work is only a second economic activity (second economics) as the existence of women as second sex.
As a result of the unproven belief in homo economicus in economics, many times the world economy was destroyed. Tragically, half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day. The majority are women. Millions of women leave home, even to other countries, in search of a better economic life. But, again, it usually stays in the low or dark side of the global economy such as cleaners, factory workers, farm workers, even sex workers.
Every year, about half a million women die in childbirth. Most, in fact, can be saved if they have access to health care. Of course, health care is inaccessible due to the very weak economic power of women.
Katrine Marḉal’s book, written with agility, intelligence, and sometimes circus, is a deep-seated protest against classical economics (Adam Smith et al.), Keynesian monetaryism, to neoliberalism that only makes human beings human capital aka slaves. After reading this book, it is best to ask who is doing domestic work at home; how economics is taught in schools or campuses and its effects on women in your home and around the world.
This book strikes a chord with you thinking that economic work around you is “normal” and will return to “new normal“: aka degrading women’s work and committing economic injustice to women.