Why Expense Matters in Social Issues

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2018


People like to support popular social causes. This is good. But it is important to keep the expense of supporting in mind, too. If expense is not kept in mind then a lot of the world's resources get wasted. That is not good.

Here is an example.

Supporting the climate issue

One way of supporting climate preservation is buying electric cars. But take a look at this example and see if buying electric cars makes sense.

We have a community, lets call it Community A. The people of Community A will be happy if they have ten cars of contemporary format and ownership.

Suppose that Community A has the money to buy five gas-powered cars, but only three electric powered cars because they are more expensive.

Which purchase is going to make the community the happiest?

And further suppose that things will change with time. In ten years from now the community's prosperity will rise and the price of both kinds of cars will come down so that now the community can buy seven gas powered cars or seven electric powered cars because their price has dropped even more dramatically. Suppose further that the community has the choice to buy five Uber-style driverless cars and they would carry as much capacity as ten conventional ownership cars because they don't spend most of the day sitting in a parking lot.

Which is the best choice for Community A?

The moral: There are lots of choices and the expense of those choices makes a big difference in their attractiveness and effectiveness at solving the problem being addressed.



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