We are continuing our cycle on economics. Today, we will consider whether everything in our lives is subject to this very field …
The hero of this episode will be Gary Becker, who made a peculiar discovery a few decades ago. Apparently, Newton discovered gravity while sitting under a fruit tree, and suddenly an apple fell on his head. Becker – then a young economist at the University of Chicago – suffered his own revelation in less charming circumstances.
Life is the art of choice
One afternoon he had an important meeting. Unfortunately, as often happens in such moments, there is a risk that he will be late for it. The lack of parking spaces has completed the drama of the situation (at this point you probably nod in understanding with your head and empathize with a groan). Becker could park in a forbidden place and make it to a conversation. The alternative was to look for the Holy Grail, but also to be late. The dilemma was therefore a slight violation of the rules, but a meeting or parking like every decent citizen and being late. As an economist, he began to calculate. He could get a fine of a dozen or so USD, but be at the right time. In the end, he chose this option because he calculated that the benefits of this meeting could be higher than a small penalty.
Crime is a business?
Becker then dazzled. He broke the law, but it resulted from economic calculation! What’s more, he rejected the thesis that criminals are always degenerate individuals who break the law because they are ill-adapted to live in society. They do it because … sometimes it pays off for them. They calculate and calculate. So how to eliminate crime? It is enough to make it unprofitable. A good economist will not park in a prohibited place, even if he is in a very important meeting, if he has a lot of money.
Racism is also a business?
Backer went on. He also saw economics in … racism. In his modern times – and we are talking about the 1950s – black people had problems finding a job. The scientist tried to prove that not only they were losers but also racist businessmen. A colored person, for example, agreed to work even for a lower rate and had the same qualifications as her white competitor in a conversation with the company’s boss. Racist, however, will hire a white person, although it will be as efficient as the black one, but it will cost him more. In turn, the non-gay man gains, because he has a cheaper work force in the form of people with a different skin color.
Family is business?
Our hero went on. In his opinion, even the functioning of the family or the whole society is based on economics. Appear in her dilemmas such as: eating at home or outside; watching the Marathon alone on the home DVD, or maybe spending time with friends and deepening social relations with them. For the representative of the so-called a free profession that works when it wants, the dilemma is even bigger. Watch the movie, can you spend this time working and earning?
Similarly, having a child is an economic decision. Is it better to raise them, or to devote to a professional career. This topic is becoming more and more current over the years …
Becker’s theories arouse mixed feelings. Some economists reject them and consider them too broad. However, what is your opinion. Write in the comments on our social media!