James Buchanan proposed a simple test to distinguish economists from non-economists. It was that economists would not agree with the old adage that “whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.” If you’re confused by that, you aren’t an economist.
Economists know that everything has costs and benefits. Not just this or that thing but everything. That includes good things and bad things. Even good things have costs, and bad things have benefits. Furthermore, economists “think at the margin.” And finally, there’s such a thing as “sunk costs.”
To keep this brief, let’s just say that an economist would stop before reaching that nebulous “well done” stage. He would stop when the marginal cost exceeds the marginal benefit. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing as long as the net benefit is positive. And then stop.
Back to our topic at hand on billionaires (the previous bits are part 1 and part 2.) Continue reading “Billionaires are Different — Part 3”