8.12.16

BROADENING WHAT WE DON'T HAVE TO DO.

The Foundation for Economic Education's Sarah Skwire attempts to square Adam Smith and Alfred North Whitehead.
The division of labor and the increasing specialization of modern life mean that when I need my lawn mowed, I call a lawn guy. When I need a clean house, I call the housecleaning company. When I need a hornet’s nest removed, I panic, pour a drink, and call the hornet and bee removal guy. Before specialization, I would have had to be my own lawn guy, my own housecleaner, and my own terrified hornet removal guy. And as I can attest from my experience in the days when I was too broke to afford any of these specialists, I would have had an overgrown lawn, a messy house, and the best hornet hotel in Indiana.

The division of labor means that none of that is true. The world is full of people who can do for me the things that I do badly, while I concentrate on doing the things that I do well. All I need to do is give them some of the money I make for doing my stuff well and they’ll come right over and do their stuff well.
Put another way, civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform by thinking of someone to hire in?

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