Opportunity Costs

I’m too upset by the prospect of a government shutdown to write anything coherent.  It happens.  So I dug through the last time we had this problem potentially looming in 2011 and found this piece.  It’s not only still relevant, but it ties into our recent piece on the Triple Threat of forces on our economic health that no one is really dealing with.  I hope you enjoy this repeat from 31 August 2011.

You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.  It’s a silly old saying with a huge dollop of folk wisdom hidden in the middle of it.  But money spent is sometimes more than just money gone – in an integrated world it’s a choice to make one connection when another one might have been a better choice.

Rather than just measure how much money is going in and out, it might be better to understand what we could buy with the same money.  The technical term for this is “Opportunity Cost”, or what we give up by making the choices we do.

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Resiliency vs Interdependence

Long ago, most Americans lived as Laura Ingalls Wilder chronicled in the “Little House” series.  Pa Ingalls and family were out in the wilderness, living with the rhythm of the land and putting away what they could to survive long winters and perhaps beyond.  The family’s net worth was what they had around them.

That life has been replaced with interdependence based on a dollar value assigned to absolutely everything.  We all get by with any extra scratch, should there be some, not stored up to get through the winter but properly invested in convertible assets.  This means everyone is subject to  the “free market”, which determines the value of all assets including experience, talent, and work.

That interdependence has changed our world to one with much less hard work or struggles against nature, and yet to many it has become as hostile as any winter on the Great Plains.
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Triple Threat

What’s the right thing to do to help the economy?  Clearly, Congress has no idea, making bizzy with games designed to impress their constituents.  Major economists don’t agree, either, with at least three different views on what is going on and the appropriate remedies. How can it be so chaotic and disorganized?

It’s always been Barataria’s creed that if you complain about how things are you have to stick your neck out and offer a better solution.  Our answer has always been that there is a totally new economy forming around us as we work through the Managed Depression, and that there is a dire need for public and private leadership to help us create that new world dynamically.  That’s a bit too hard to define , but we can offer is a different way of looking at the situation we’re in.  It doesn’t directly point to courses of action, but it suggests things that should be tried.

Here is a description of the Triple Threat to the US Economy – Business Cycles, Globalism, and Demographics – and how they are working together to make this a once in a lifetime change.

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Gameday in Washingtoon

Another year, another battle over the budget.  This time the threat is a trifecta, a showdown over shutting down government, defunding Obamacare, and a default on the Federal Debt by not raising the debt ceiling.  The stakes could not possibly be higher – and yet just about no one outside of Washingtoon wants to be in this game in the first place.  How did it get to this?

First of all, this is about the Republican Party and absolutely nothing else.  Boehner and the leadership had to prove their mettle to more vocal Tea Party members if they wanted to have a chance to keep their positions.  But there is little doubt that even if they win the greater party outside stands to lose the most in this game.  For the rest of us, all we can do is hope that nothing stupid winds up happening.

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Bernanke in Charge

Another Federal Reserve policy meeting, another restatement of the QE3, another big rise on Wall Street.  The breakdown on the Fed’s continuing to buy $85 a month in treasury bills was predictable, if generally wrong and leaving just about everyone to speculate on why, regardless of how plainly the case was made.  Make no mistake about it, though – Ben is still in charge and things are going pretty well in many ways, at least until the showdown on the budget and debt ceiling.

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