Friday, February 22, 2008

Efficiency World

If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes
later. Or so I like to tell my students. Of course
at the time I was running a little behind schedule and
was speeding to make up for lost time. I knew I had
to get gas and food before I started teaching class
and was doing pretty good until I got to the gas
station. And there one of the most reviled people
held me up for a precious three minutes in the gas
station as she;

1. Sat there and pondered which cigarettes shouldwould buy
2. Sat there and pondered which lottery tickets shewould buy
3. And then proceeded to pay with nothing other than


As this person was no doubt a communist plant sent
here to grind our production of GDP to a halt, it got
me thinking of a concept or “world” I had thought of
called “Efficient World.”

The whole idea is what if we got rid of that 20% that
was holding up the remaining 80% of us? I mean if we
took out all the stops, the bottlenecks and the
slowpokes, what would happen to our labor productivity
and efficiency and thus standards of living if we just
got rid of them. We wouldn’t “dispose”
of them, as much as pay them off to go live on an
island somewhere and get out of our way. What would

The most obvious effect I think would occur in our
transportation system. There would be no “gawker”
effect as efficient people would not have such boring
lives that a common car crash would constitute
entertainment. The left lanes would be free and clear
for those who are passing to pass, not to soak up the
left lane in their Buick Regal. The speed limit could
effectively be raised to 90 MPH because we could
handle it and know how to drive. Roads would have 5
lanes on each side because we would refuse to tolerate
a rush hour. And five lanes may not be necessary as
most of us in Efficient World would drive cars and not
ride buses or drive mini-vans or SUV’s, thus damming
up the roads. Arguably there would be no rush hour as
in Efficient World people would (foreign concept) LIVE
NEAR WHERE THEY WORK! And even that might be too much
of a commute, because more citizens of Efficient World
would work from home because there’s really no reason
in corporate America today to have an office.
The price of oil would plummet because we’d use so
little of it.

I also forecast there would be no grocery stores, only
convenience stores as most people in EW would
subscribe to the highest level to Adam Smith’s law of
specialization and never cook their own food.
Refrigerator sales would plummet as we’d eat out all
the time, because it would not only be cheaper over
the long run, but probably better for us. And as
other areas of labor became so specialized, many
chores and tasks we do ourselves would be outsourced
to specialists.

And lines, the elimination of lines. I wouldn’t have
to wait for Tilly with her 50 items in the 10 item
only “express lane” as her children grab random
tooth-rotting goodies from the check out lane
increasing her grocery count to 76. And when I want a
beer, I don’t have to wait for Brandi McSuburbangirl
to sit there at a packed bar debating with herself,
“Gee, what do I want…let me see…” only to order the
inevitable cosmopolitan 2 hours later. People in EW
know what they want before they get in line thereby
avoiding holding the rest of us up.

And kids. There would be no kids. Kids are
inefficient. If you had a kid you would be taken out
of EW and moved to KIW (Kid Infested World), where you
can fly on planes with screaming babies, disease
infested adolescents, and you could bear the full cost
of educating your children as only those with children
would be paying for the schools. Thus, by default
meaning there would be no schools in EW. Only
colleges. And all the colleges would be for the hard
sciences. None of the sociology or philosophy stuff.
Hard core, efficient stuff like accounting and
engineering and computer programming. Heck, economics
would be considered the “weaker” of the studies. Oh
it would be amazing.

And the government budget alone would be a fraction of
what it is now. With no schools, a booming economy,
skyrocketing labor productivity, an efficient
transportation grid, all math, science, engineering
and accounting majors, the tax base alone would put
the US to shame. GDP would reach $40 trillion in
three years, income per capita would be about $4.7
million per person, and without schools, social
security, medicare and Medicaid, I think government
revenues would account for about .4% of GDP,
contrasted with nearly 34% here in the US today (and
contrasted with 60% in Sweden).

Anyway, long story short, I often opine and dream of
world of such efficiency. Of course it will never be
realized, but at minimum, for the rest of us that
dream of an EW world, could you smokers whose
retirement plan consists of lottery tickets AT LEAST


Ro! said...

I would have just used a credit card at the pump; collect the 5% rebate on the gas and pay off the bill from my home computer.

Though EW is mighty tempting.. What about entertainment though?.. I consider sports/movies etc inefficient ways of entertainment! But that will cripple the entertainment oriented economy wouldn’t it!..

Anonymous said...

You are so dead on the money......great post...always such a treat to read what you have to say....

Anonymous said...

"I also forecast there would be no grocery stores, only convenience stores as most people in EW would
subscribe to the highest level to Adam Smith’s law of specialization and never cook their own food."

Would nobody wipe their own ass either? Since this looks like an exercise in taking a premise beyond its reasonable limits, I might as well push it past the boundaries of good taste as well.

In any case, I can make myself a sandwich the way I like it faster than some slack-jawed teenager can.

While I share your hatred of people who hold up lines and stall traffic to look for highway carnage, I think you're going past fantasizing about efficiency and branching off into your desire for other people to have the same preferences that you do. (not that your preferences are bad, per se, just that they're not necessarily the same as mine)

Anonymous said...

But wait! There's more! If you act now, we'll throw in a real understanding of the natural world so that no one wastes their time on (or fights about) supernatural religious beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon, Captain -

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Captain Capitalism said...


Astute observation. Religion would pretty much go by the way side wouldn't it.

I was also thinking sales tax. no more IRS. Just collected up front.

Anonymous said...

No offense to the fairer sex, but women are pretty inefficient at just about everything. Efficiency-maximization is a product of the male-mindset, and a subset of that mindset to boot.

I was going to make a snarky comment about the pleasures of KIW, but the fact that most of the chicks will live there with us is a sufficient taunt. If it's any consolation, I am sure that there will be many nice accountants and computer programmers to game with in Efficiency World.


Captain Capitalism said...

I am heading for the hills before the nuclear missiles are launched! We knew ye so little Alex.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but when a debit transaction is as secure as a check, I'll start using them. Until then, it's my credit card.