Here, in all its glory, is a Telegraph editorial:
The remarkable thing about the silk cape on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum from tomorrow is not that it took 80 people five years to make, or even that it is woven from the gossamer of 1.2 million golden orb spiders, which produce undyed silk of a golden hue. No, the remarkable thing is that the spiders were let loose afterwards to skip happily through the undergrowth of their native Madagascar not a whit the worse for contributing to this work of art. Their web is deftly extracted by trained handlers.
Britain once had a silk industry, with weavers under broad windows busy making brocades, lustrings, paduasoys and suchlike rich textiles. If golden orb spiders were farmed like silkworms, the industry might thrive again, in Sunderland or Hull. To spin gold has a fairy-tale ring to it. These obliging spiders could be the Rumpelstiltskins of a start-up enterprise.
Let us, for a change, get the labour theory of value the right way around. The labour which goes into the production of something cannot be paid more than that thing is valued at.
Here we have 400 man years of labour going into the production of a cape. That labour cannot be paid more per year than one four hundredth of the value of the cape.
Let\’s put the cost of minimum wage labour at £20 k a year. Including overheads etc. So our cape must be valued at £8 million. Very limited marketplace for that. The occasional trophy third wife of a billionaire maybe.
To produce an industry we\’d need to get that price down…..which means the wages have to come down, doesn\’t it?
It\’s just not something to base an industry on so what are these people talking about?