Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Anxiety and Personal Economics

I admittedly get anxious quite easily over any presumed personal threat, whether it comes through a death threat or the simple ill-wishes from another person.

Nevertheless, I realized the other day that if I think about this economically, than many of the decisions I make are making me better off. How, by eliminating my costs (otherwise known as my “worries”). Now, for many people, the personal cost (disutility) of worries is quite insignificant. But for me, I worry a lot.

I’ve seen bloggers get nuts at each other over differences in political ideology. And I’m not just talking about, “Gee Robert Novak, you really can be a pompous douche.” I’m talking about the times when some bloggers call other people “friends of terrorists” or “enemies of America.” So, needless to say, I’m so anxious that even though the internet is the place to be when you want to say and advocate crazy agendas, I would like to never get engulfed in one of those blog to blog arguments.

There is a caveat to the blog v. blog dynamic though. In terms of economics, it can lead to some great debate. Although in politics, I’ve seen it turn to gut-wrenching slander (especially when you read comments of those people who disagree).

Nevertheless, let me show you the trade-offs I make on a daily basis that I hope will make everyone out there realize that they actually make tiny economist decisions everyday.


  • Firstly, my car. Bad accidents, random acts of hate (I’ve seen it happen to a girl I knew in college who had NO ENEMIES), and a general public disregard for other people’s property (i.e. dings and dents from people who don’t care about their car, and therefore don’t care if their car and their actions inflict damage onto yours).

    Yet, I still chose to buy, keep, and maintain a really cool car in my opinion. Why? Well, this is where being an economist is blurred because the decision is quite irrational. I like the car because I’m such a fan of racing and the discipline behind
    Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship. It takes a lot of effort to obey the rules and keep all the vehicles in prim and proper condition. It’s just cool to me.

    So, even though this is completely irrational, the personal utility to me for keeping the car and being a fan greatly outweighs the risk of having something bad happen. I also take precautions on my vehicle, and divest my own personal time to maintaining the vehicle.
  • Second, being in public. Now, I know that Social Anxiety Disorders are real, but I do believe that some of the feelings that I go through are related to my horrible experiences in high school. However, going to the grocery store, going to work, or just taking a day off and going to the mall or to the beach provide me with more than enough incentive to engage in some activities that I see some amount of risk in.

Now I know that my two examples are extreme and borderline crazy, but they’re the simplest forms of personal economics that we all practice everyday. We deal with our personal marginal costs and marginal utilities all the time. I'm just glad I don't have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; talk about a whole new line of costs.

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