Explorations in Scarcity

2. The reading noted that James Buchanan, a Nobel-Prize winning economist, once quipped that an economist was someone who did not believe that whatever was worth doing was worth doing well. How would an economist justify doing something poorly?

What is something you have done that you did not do as well as you could have done? Explain why in terms of costs and benefits. (Comment: This question is not asking you to describe a mistake you once made. This is asking you to apply the insights of Buchanan's statement that economists disagree with the statement that whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Do you always clean your room well? Do you always write your papers well? Do you study as much as you can for economics? Economists believe that because of scarcity, life is full of compromises. We do some things rather poorly and there is nothing wrong with that.)

(In the next chapter you will meet the production-possibilities frontier. After you learn about it, see if you can use it to illustrate the situation you just described.)

Review Questions back Next