Thursday, December 16, 2010


The desire to resist the truth of opportunity cost is embedded deep in the human breast. This trait is not without its significant benefits, as it is the same stubbornness that produced antibiotics, airplanes, calculus and many other things of which you and I are the lucky beneficiaries.

But one way or another, people are deeply, desperately unwilling to admit that life involves painful tradeoffs and inevitable regrets.

As far as I understand it, the vast majority of men want three things:

1. To bone hundreds of hot women

2. To wake up next to a loving and faithful wife.

3. To not feel like a hypocritical @$$hole who goes around hurting the people he loves.

Unfortunately, you can have at most two of these three options. The only exception is psychopaths, for which the naive person envies their freedom. But even for them, it's a Pyrrhic victory - have you ever met a happy psychopath?

For the unlucky, the tradeoff isn't binding - they can't get either 1 or 2, after which 3 is cold comfort.

For those fortunate enough to be up against the binding constraint, it is sometimes easy to forget that the choice is always there. Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other, as Mr Franklin observed. A lot of the time, this involves having 2, and pretending that shooting for 1 doesn't involve losing 3. But it does. It always does.

Tradeoffs - though you throw them out with a pitchfork, yet they return.

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