Robert Wiblin

If there’s one thing an economist loves to spot, it is a trade-off. A trade-off puts us on familiar terrain and let’s us feel (not for the first time) that undergraduate microeconomics can make order out of every problem. Tom Sowell captured this attitude when he famously declared, “there are no solutions, only trade-offs.” [1]

But of course not everything we do in life is traded off against something else. Many things we do are completely complementary with one another. For example, spending some time eating doesn’t conflict with my desire to get my work done. If I didn’t eat or drink at all I would pretty quickly find I wasn’t getting any work done at all! On the other hand long boozy lunches with friends every day could well conflict with my productivity. Between these two extremes there is some amount of effort dedicated to eating that doesn’t come at…

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