Friday, February 24, 2006

Opportunity Cost, Freedom, and the Price of Things

"There's no such thing as a free lunch." -- Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, after he was asked to sum up his economic philosophies.

I was listening to Dennis Prager, on the radio, between appointments. The hour's subject was something like "Everything has a Price."

I certainly believe this. Go to work, don't go to work. Both have price. The list goes on. People kept calling in with challenges, but Dennis was right. Everything does have a price.

The challenge is two-fold. 1. Acknowledge to yourself that everything has a price. 2. Ask yoursef to consider the price of your action, decision, etc. Do what you want, but you need to know that there's a price.

I've been doing this, for a while, with my food choices. Eat that cake, and you have to cut out something else. Actually, you don't. But the cost is either fat gain or a slowing of my current fat loss. Don't want that... So, do I just cut some calories? Do I cut specific things to try to balance things out? Are there other, optional foods, that I'm planning to eat that I should now, not eat? I can exercise more, too. Do I have the time for that today? This never ends, it seems. The price for eating the cake seems extreme. I'm sure I'm making more of it than necessary. Some cake, every once in a while, won't kill me.

It's not as important to look at the cake and make the right decision on eating the cake or not, or making up for the cake, later. The important part is acknowledging that eating that cake has a price. If you accept the price (whichever price you settle on), you're okay.

A caller called in and told Dennis about a concept called "Opportunity Cost." You can't do two things at once. When you do one thing, you aren't doing anything else. What's the cost of what you aren't doing. Opportunity Cost.

So, I'm pretty clear on the Opportunity Costs for the foods I eat and don't eat. I've been weighing my food choices (pun intended) for about three years now. I suppose I actually did it all of my life, I merely chose to accept too high a price and got fat...

The last called made an excellent point. I'll paraphrase, until I can get his exact phrasing.

"Freedom is knowing the prices and making your own choices." --Some Caller to the Dennis Prager Show.

I was free make my food and fitness choices. I chose being fat. Now, I choose to be fit. I decide to not get up and go workout. But, time to start looking at my choices and their prices. I'm free to make my own choices and I suffer the consequences; good or bad.

So, in short, I choose not to eat the cake. ...except on someone's birthday, or when I can ditch tonight's bread, or I can take a little pudge where it won't show, or I've got some time to exercise a little more, or it's my Mom's cheesecake and it would hurt her feelings if I don't eat it, despite the fact that she packed it for me to take home and has no idea that I could just toss it and not eat it. But, not eat the cheesecake? Come on!

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