A Country Homemaker Figures Her Yearly Income: Incalculable Value

Asked to total her yearly income for the household tax return, a homemaker balances services rendered against payment received, and concludes that if the IRS could calculate a way to tax real wealth, she'd be bankrupt.

| April/May 1992

"Hey, make up a list of what you earned last year," hollers my husband from the next room, where he's winding up his six weeks' dalliance with income tax forms. Well, let's see. What did I earn last year? A skilled homemaker should be worth at least $3 an hour, and she invests about 12 hours a day. Of course, I wasn't here every day and Sundays were light. Say 300 days at $36 a day. That's $10,800 to start with. And then a farmer's wife has "hired man" tasks to lengthen most of her days. I went to work with my thinker and my eighth-grade math and I drew up my list.

Amount Earned:

Skilled homemaker     $10,800
Labor foreman (equally skilled)          $1,280
Tractor driver (mediocre)       $450
Truck driver (fantastic skill)    $450
Purchasing agent (reputation—“Scotch”)       $500
Sales clerk, real estate agent, phone operator, social secretary (gracious, knowledgeable, witty)  $300
Total:  $13,780 

I laid it on the bookkeeper's desk and left. In a calculated few moments, there was a roar. "That's not what I wanted!"

"But you asked me what I earned. I thought my estimate was conservative, considering my education and experience."

"Would you please make me up a list of what you actually got," he said in exasperation.

"Ohhh…what I actually got…Well, that's something else…"

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