you don’t know how lucky you are, boy

Economics, particularly the Austrians, give us the notion of time preference – the amount by which a human prefers to get a certain good now rather than in the future. You have to pay someone a premium if you want them to wait for their payday. This is because the future, and our ability to enjoy it, is uncertain. Economists such as Irving Fisher and George Reisman say this is how interest rates arise.

What this means for the non-nerds in the audience: you can put a high price on convenience and people will still pay.

Is it worth an extra $30 a month to check e-mail in transit, rather than checking it before you leave one place and after you arrive at another place? Ask anyone who owns an iPhone. Take it back a step further – imagine living without a cell phone. Imagine living without the Internet – having to wait as long as an hour to find out the headlines, or having to pick up the phone and talk to a human to find out if your flight was on time. You can put almost any price on convenience and people will pay.

And not only will people pay for convenience, but they’ll stop thinking of it as convenience. It becomes necessity. That’s because – taking it back to econ talk above – time is the ultimate resource. Saving money and effort are fun if you’re thrifty; saving time is addictive.

That’s all I’ve got for you. Happy Thanksgiving.


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