Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If only we had the time

Economics is about the allocation of resources. At one point in time, physical resources were a big deal. In some cases they still are, but the scantest resource in this day and age is the time and effort of organized groups of intelligent and well-trained people.

The government endeavors to direct this effort into positive social directions like keeping the environment clean, ensuring the safety of things like cars, drugs and planes, blowing up foreigners, keeping the SuperBowl nipple-free and the like.  Despite these efforts, a majority of the allocation of time, effort and collective focus is allocated by the market - folks doing some combination of what they want to do and what others with money pay them to do.

Folks say that they want healthcare for their fellow man and less CO2 and any number of other things, but when it comes time to pull out the wallet or the calendar, they go to the things they actually want. Fantasy football leagues, porn, Farmville, Twilight, CSI  and the like.

XKCD has it right: bajillions of hours were expended by some of the finest minds of the past few generations in order achieve for humanity the sophisticated technology that we now use for viewing goofy videos on the internet.

So... perhaps it's time to put our time and money where our mouth is: Get out there, earn as much as you can by providing whatever it is that you can do that others value (with dollars, not words), and then donate as much of your earnings as you can afford to the cause that you support...  You might not be rich, but you've got time and brains, and that's just as good as money.

Or count on someone else* to do it and... check out this kickass video of a wheelbarrow race.

*Advanced practitioners will move beyond counting on someone else and take the step of voting for the government to force someone else.  YMMV.

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