The way economists think has always intrigued me. They manage (or at least try) to balance thoughts about money, humans, interactions, markets, and so on. But it always bothers me when economists say, “It’s okay that I’m leaving my grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot [for example], because I’m decreasing unemployment.”
Sure, it might help to decrease unemployment, but I always thought that kind of logic is a cop out. If the “cart runner” job no longer existed, who’s to say other *cough-better* jobs wouldn’t sprout up in its place. I think the “decreasing unemployment” argument is just an excuse to not put that cart away, instead of caring enough about your fellow human beings.
The other day, I was thinking about an idea that basically contradicts the impetus for that behavior. Many economists think that ‘mass production is not evil.’ Setting aside whether or not mass production actually is painfully unhealthy for us as human beings, I can see their point. The idea is that mass production, and other streamlined processes, allows us not to have to do mind-numbing work. It allows for a shift in human capital from mundane tasks to more intellectual, worthier ones – like finding the cure for cancer, or solving world hunger, to name a couple of trite but grave examples.
If you really believe in both of these ideas – it’s fairly contradictory. By leaving your cart out, you are wasting someone else’s potential to think and work on a higher level. Imagine a thousand of these gestures, sprinkled over a lifetime.
I realize this is a logic-heavy argument that isn’t backed by any research. But it seems so obvious to me that if you believe that it is positive for humans not to do these more mundane tasks, you’re really painting yourself in a negative light if you so undervalue others’ time and energy by refusing to clean up after yourself when possible.
So, um, be kind to others is what I’m trying to say I guess 😛