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The Default Is Nothing: A Lesson For Entitled Millennials

Picture Credit: Ken Teegardin

When we’re young children, many of us don’t have any frame of reference to realize how prosperous or impoverished our environment is. If your surroundings are all that you know, then you have nothing to compare. At some point, my parents explained to me that our standard of living in America is drastically higher than billions of others’ around the world.

Upon looking around at the state of most people in the world, it would lead me to think: why do I get all the goodies? How is there air-conditioning in my house, a car for my transport, and a communication device to billions of people in my pocket? The curiosity of these questions can only be satiated with the blunt pursuit of the dismal science.
I am fascinated by the science of Economics, and the wise minds who prevail at it.

Even though I’m only 17, I feel all of my peers should be just as interested in the subject. Economics is an intriguing science, and today is the best time in history to study it. Here are two fundamentals I have come to understand: two of the reasons why I’m looking forward to studying these principles further in college.

What is an Economy?

When we say the word economy, most of the time we mean cheap. There are economy airlines and economy cars. The science of Economics, on the other hand, is far deeper from the surface than that. The Economist describes economics as “the study of how society uses its scarce resources”. This branches into the production of resources, what resources to produce, who should consume those resources, and who controls these things. It’s all in demand and supply, but that’s a bit like saying anatomy is all in the human body.

The Default is nothing.

A tragic flaw I see most prosperous people make is that they think the default state of our economy is prosperity and poverty is some kind of weird accident we ought not to make. This is a somewhat natural flaw in thinking; if you live in a certain surrounding long enough you will start to think of it as the default. It is always important to note that without humans going out of their way to do difficult labor, we would have nothing. Nothing. Take all the analysis of supply and demand curves of the bread market, all the politicians’ words, all the good feelings in the world and you still won’t have a loaf of bread. If you go out of your way just a little bit to do real work, you’ll end up with a loaf of bread. This is common sense. Everybody knows this. Every preferable outcome of an economy originates with hard work. Innovation, though, is like increasing the engine’s mpg; innovations make it so that we can go further with the same work, not so that we can stagnate by doing less work.

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