I’m sure I’m not the first person to note that economics has a bit of a tendency to focus on efficiency and cold hard numbers. In many situations, especially on the free market side of things, economic analysts are willing to say things that come across as rather heartless, like admitting that temporary job loss might be an essential part of an economic adjustment.
This sounds pretty harsh from the perspective of the people who have to deal with the result: loved ones losing their jobs.
The idea of subjective value is related to this issue. While almost everyone easily recognizes that different individuals value things differently, sometimes it’s hard to define that value when it isn’t measured with a dollar sign.
I work with many economically minded people, but when it comes to this non-monetary value, my mindset is a little different. In college I studied English literature, not the trades and exchanges of the market. We placed value on a lot of things that you can’t really put a price on or purchase. I’m more prone to see this value.
It’s not that I’m a progressive, it’s that I’m willing to look for value outside of the market.
As someone I respect once said, “Love is not really efficient.” I think that’s accurate. Not that this idea creates a mandate for the government to show love to its citizens, but the inefficiency of love does come into play in the lives of many individuals. It may be love for our hobbies, sacrifice for family, all things that can seem to detract from efficiency.
Sometimes that’s a sacrifice that has to be made. Efficiency is good, but it can get in the way of some of the best parts of life.