What kind of competition?

Imagine an economy you preside over where everyone hones their skills in violin-making and produces violins. Everyone in the economy works really hard to make and sell violins. They do so many other things such as growing their own food, trying to sustain themselves, just to make violins. In the economy, there is no other markets; no one is producing food to sell, no one providing laundry services. Money is exchanged only to buy and sell violins. And only violins have a price.

That sounds absurd. Because if only violins have a price, then money is only worth violins. Then what is the value of money in this economy? Yet, without answering such questions, if we were to allow the metaphor to continue, say you are supposed to spur productivity of this economy, what would you do?

You could do things that enhance the labour productivity. This means everyone produces more violin in the economy, thereby driving the prices down and causing violins to be worth less vis-a-vis the currency in circulation.

Or you could start getting people to perform other work for others. That enhances productivity of the system overall as the ones good at violin making gets to outsource parts of their chores so that they are freed to make more violins. You allow more goods and services to be priced using money hence allowing more things to be exchanged and money becomes more valuable too. The higher productivity raises overall wealth measured in money and allows people to demand for more violins or pay more for them, enriching the violin makers.

Before I go further, you must be wondering what I’m talking about. I’m thinking about education, where grades are the only thing that matters, where students are expected to focus on grades despite having to fulfill other requirements such as CCAs, including sports, student activities, leadership activities, etc. All these while trumpeting that different students have different strengths and then consigning a future michelin-starred chef to the E-bucket and having him sent to vocational school.

Our system ties up and stifles talents, force everyone to be denominated and priced using just one attribute of their capability: intellect/academics (or test-taking). And so if you want to improve the system, do you still force everyone to produce more and better grades?

Sites & Wares

Macheist rocks!

It’s been a while since ERPZ featured any Lifehack Tools and lately, I’ve found quite a lot of useful stuff so it would be great to share with readers and GTD enthusiasts.

Dropbox – File sharing/synchronization, online storage tool. Extremely useful for people with multiple computers and files to be shared between them.

Macheist – Mac Community that raise funds for charity and give you lots of great Mac Ware at amazing prices (sometimes free too).

Ninite.com – Multi-Apps installer; allows you to choose from a list of important “must-install” applications to be installed all at once on your computer. Especially useful when you just get a new computer or formatted your PC and want to have your favourite softwares installed fast.

Growl – Mac Notification tool, it’s basically an alert programme that seamlessly integrate with your mac and several other popular programmes.

Picnik – In case you haven’t realised, there’s are web-based image-editing tools and Picnik just happens to stand out particularly because it is speedy and extremely user friendly.

Quicksilver – It’s not easy to describe what Quicksilver does exactly but it’s basically a graphical shell that allows you to perform stuff on your Mac more quickly.

Work Less, Live Healthy

Get Unemployed!
Get Unemployed!

When the economy gets into recession, people become anxious about their jobs, worried about not being able to get employed or having not enough money to finance their spending, so they get sick more easily. Right? Wrong! Fortune magazine ran a story that tells otherwise; in fact, it even surfaced the inverse relationship between death rates and unemployment rates!

Interestingly, people are actually working too much in most developed world today. Reducing work would make them healthier and perhaps allow them to live better lives though it might not satisfy all their wants. In any case, no amount of work would be able to satisfy all their wants in the first place. The implication of this is that there is actually an optimal income level for each person involved in a particular job. In a sense, an economy at any one time has an optimal national income so that the population is healthy (optimal health-productivity balance, long life expectancy and lower mortality).