Thursday, April 7, 2022

The one place where you can really make a difference

Jordan Peterson's sixth "Rule of Life" is "Set your own house in perfect order before you criticize the world."

You determine your life primarily by the choices you make. Some choices are "meta-choices," the ones that impact numerous other choices.

One of the meta-choices is what share of your time you devote to your micro realm versus your macro realm.

The micro realm of your life includes your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors — those with whom you directly interact, as well as your job and other personal uses of your time.

The macro part of your life includes society at large, the economy, climate change, politics, people distant from you, and people you don't know.

In which of those two realms, micro or macro, do you want to live? You have a limited amount of time and energy. Whichever realm you choose has what economists call an "opportunity cost." (The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics defines "opportunity cost" as follows: "Perhaps the most fundamental concept in economics, the opportunity cost of an action is the value of the forgone alternative.")

There is an enormous difference regarding the level of control you have in the two spheres. Obviously, you have the most influence and impact on those closest to you. Influence is like gravitational force, inversely proportional to the square of the distance. Also, consider the relative populations. You are a significant part of your micro world. Like it or not, you are a tiny and insignificant part of your macro world.

There is also a big difference in your relative knowledge about the two realms. Your macro realm is vastly more complex than your micro realm, and the choices you make there are more prone to error. We all know people who have strong opinions concerning issues they know almost nothing about.

Virtually all your power resides in your micro realm. The person closest to you is yourself. Focusing on a small sphere of influence is an aspect of individual responsibility. It is a way of thinking and behaving that shows the difference between progressives and conservatives. Conservatives love being personally responsible. It's part of the price of freedom.

Unfortunately, individual responsibility is just too big a burden for some people. Personal problems are often too difficult and painful to face. To focus instead on an "urgent" macro issue is a favorite self-deluding tactic of progressives. Their selected macro issue is typically one dire enough to blind them to the cost of hiding from themselves. It enables them to deny the high opportunity cost to themselves of neglecting their own unsolved personal problems.

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The one place where you can really make a difference April 7, 2022

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at rossecon@gmail.com.

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