Accounting for Prudent Choice
1. Choices, choices

McCloskey: Is a college education worth the time and money it costs?

Rodney: I'm not sure. Maybe I should have gotten a full-time job instead. My mother's having a hard time right now. She could use the money.

Paul: Better stick with college. Getting an education is the only way to make more money later on. Without a degree you'll be flipping burgers for $6.50 an hour the rest of your life.

Maria: Paul, you think of everything in terms of money! I came to college to learn and to grow. Money had nothing-okay, little-to do with it. Rodney should have the same chance, even if his family is poor.

Bayla: When I decided to quit my job at the insurance company and go back to school, I had to move into a smaller apartment and sell my car. A tough choice.

The students are facing economic choices. Chapter 1 introduced the concept of scarcity. The main point was that scarcity necessitates choice. Even a multi-millionaire is limited in his options. The J. Paul Getty Trust, endowed by a Texas oil man, has built an enormous museum in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles. Even though the Trust is one of the world's richest cultural foundation, it can't have everything, can it? Its director worries that its $800 million annual budget may not be enough. "Enough"? Not enough to satisfy unlimited desires. We simply can't have everything on our wish list. We must choose.

The question here is how people choose. How do economists think about the resource constraints and decisions faced every day by consumers, businesses, governments, and communities?

Concept Check 1: If Maria were to argue that "Going to college should not have to be a choice. It should be everyone's right," how might an economist respond?