Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Parse This:
"As Soon As Possible"

What does it mean when someone says, "As soon as possible"? What constraint do they really have in mind that might limit "right now"? What is it that limits what is possible?

I seem to recall having once seen a documentary in which a large group of people were able, with careful planning and advance work, to construct a house on what had been a vacant lot in under 48 hours. They didn't care what the expense was, they just wanted to see how fast they could put up and finish the house.

The constraint in this case was a technical constraint: it was impossible to build the house any faster. That's what "... as fast as possible..." usually means to me. It usually does not mean as soon as we feel like it. It usually does not mean, "pretty soon, subject to a budget constraint." It usually does not mean, "Tomorrow, but the union won't let us."

And now the CBC is telling us, ad nauseum, they are currently experiencing a "labour disruption" and that they hope to

return to regularly scheduled programming as soon as possible.
Nonsense. If they wanted to return us to "regularly scheduled programming as soon as possible," they would agree to whatever the union wants. Clearly their idea of what is possible has additional constraints, involving a different feasible set than most of us imagine when we use that phrase.

Quite frankly, as Angry in T.O. says, I don't miss the CBC at all. And as one his commenters said,

They need to have their budget halved and let them concentrate on what they do best, which is.....uhh....umm.....
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