Friday, April 23, 2010

Self-sufficiency is the road to poverty???

So I was thinking about some things Russ Roberts had to say on trade and the advantages of specialization that lead to material prosperity. I'm not going to repeat everything he had to say here, but the gist of it was that he made some really convincing arguments to the effect that we all become significantly wealthier by doing our job and paying others to do their jobs than we would have been if we did everything for ourselves. I accept the basic argument, but I wonder sometimes, about why it is that we hold self-sufficiency in such high regard if it's really a dis-advantage.

In particular, I wonder about my own personality, my own desire to build or fix things myself. To figure out how to make things work, whether they're related to my field of specialization or not. I think that this desire for this behavior is what enabled me to do the sort of technical work that I do. I also think that by acting out on this desire, the logical training imposed on my mind in troubleshooting an automotive problem, designing a solution to running electric service in support of a particular activity, or discovering the source of a plumbing problem. The lessons I had to learn growing up to solve these problems I can apply in different ways to the problems I am confronted at work as I try to break down business practices into their smallest logical steps, discover the points that require no complex decision making, and come up with ways to automate and facilitate those processes.

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