Freakonomics continues to daze and amaze us with off beat examples of how economics plays a role in our lives in the strangest places. Last week they posited an interesting theory for rising obesity in the form of indoor plumbing. Basically, that you would limit your consumption if having to go, meant having to go outdoors in the cold. (Guess a chamber pot wasn't an option).
The blog post continues to expand on the idea, recounting when living in a summer house without garbage pickup, their behavior changed.
A few times in the recent past, I’ve rented a summer house with no garbage pickup. This meant not only paying for how much waste you produce, but also storing your trash until the one day that the dump is open. During these times, our behavior changed radically: not only did we compost all our food waste to cut down on stink, but we thought about everything we bought before we bought it to make sure we wanted to deal with the waste. As a result, we bought a lot less.
The general dogma is plenty is always better, but the universe is a zero sum game (not even that, you can't even break even) but we as humans believe otherwise. Is all the stuff we have really better. If we were to choose what in our society would we want to be plentiful, and that which we would not. What would they be? Remember, what we say and what we do are not the same. For instance, we advocate health as an important outcome (like anyone says they are for bad health) but we structure our lives and our food supply to be unhealthy.
My list, health, education, security and time. Though I struggle with the order. As our government tries to save our economy as we know it, I think well maybe we should think of a different economy. It's clear that it was leveraged to the few. Perhaps some constraints resulting from this crisis can lead to use create a different, and truly improved world. Not just a more world.