Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coke vs. Pepsi

 I was just thinking that my last post didn't too much sense, so I'm going to try to tweak it a bit.
I may have given the impression that I was somehow against division of labor.  We can't all be plumbers, chemists, and bean-counters simultaneously.  Division of labor and specialization is normal and healthy.  What I think is a problem is extreme specialization whereby one person only understands a very minuscule part of the world.  
I once had a marketing professor gave the class an example:  Take a successful business executive who makes >$200K per year.  The value of this person's time is extremely high, around $100/hour.  So, logically, this executive should not engage in activities that waste his time.  The professor's example was "impulse buys" at grocery stores.  The executive is justified in making impulse buys because he shouldn't waste his precious time looking around the store for the things he needs.  I suppose logically he should also not change the oil in his car, fix the leaky faucet, or engage in any activity that does not pay him $100/hour.
But, what kind of life is this?  Why not just lock the executive in his office and let robots bathe and feed him....just like in Wall-E!
So, that may be part of the problem.  Another part of the problem is, as Scott has mentioned, we are all too interested in the latest (fill-in-the-latest-washed-up-movie-star-name) crotch shot, but not so interested in things that actually have an impact on us.
Finally, since we are conditioned to not know much about anything, we tend to buy based on brand-name recognition.  For example, my Honda has been a great car, so I think I'll buy a Honda next time I am ready to buy a new one.  Some of this is unavoidable.  I can't possibly inspect every part of the car to determine it's a good car.  I just know from experience that it's a reliable car.  
The same thing happens in politics.  Any political party/ideology has a certain set of issues and values it's trying to sell.  The Republicans have a set and the Democrats have their own set, each opposed to the other we are told.  It's like Coke vs. Pepsi.  If you agree with the Republicans on the economy, for example, you are expected to swallow the whole can on the rest of the issues it espouses.  
I suppose this has turned into a mundane criticism of two-party politics.  But, hey, isn't it time we had a good 'ol Dr. Pepper?

1 comment:

  1. Now that is something I can wholeheartedly agree with!

    Economic "conclusions" should only be taken so far. Yes, time is valuable, but dollars-and-cents evaluations can often overlook value which is not easily "priced." Money is just a tool, not the word of God. Sometimes you just have to use your brain. And your heart.

    Gary North calls this confusing success indicators (like wealth and a big house) with actual success. Its like a kid who figures out how to "play the system" at school, gets straight A's and doesn't learn a stinking thing. He just wasted years and years achieving something meaningless, and missed out on everything of value. He got the grades, but he's a total blockhead.

    And of course, the issues Ben is talking about are a heck-of-a-lot bigger than that.

    So, don't become a total economics fiend. Have a little perspective...

    Good lesson, Ben.