…today’s secret…Economics 101. 

Many of us are ignorant about a lot of things. I know almost nothing about botany.

As a result most of us simply do not attempt to comment on those things we know little about. Of course, some can’t help it. Waaay booooring.

Economics is a subject that affects us all, yet, most of us would be hard-pressed to define it to a stranger.

I’m going to take care of that today.

Economics is the study of how we use our ‘scarce’ resources.

Many of us first think of raw materials when we talk resources. Petroleum. Iron ore. Zinc. etc. However, ‘scarce’ is the operative word here.

The history of the world can be studied through the gaining or losing of the world’s raw materials by those who have it and those who don’t.

Some societies are rich in natural resources but do not have the ability to harvest them. Some societies, like Japan and Switzerland, have few natural resources but maintain high standards of living because they can purchase what resources they don’t have.

In the 20th century alone Europe colonized Africa for its rubber, timber, and diamonds; Japan conquered Malaysia for its oil; Hitler annexed the Ruhr River Valley for its iron ore.

Resources have been acquired via capitalism, socialism, feudalism, efficiently, inefficiently, voluntarily or involuntarily. Slave labor is a resource that has been used to get a resource, but that’s another story…

Today we here in the USA are arguing about the raw materials we don’t have to battery power our electric cars. We keep flip-flopping on whether to use our own oil or buy from others.

However, economics is not always financial nor associated with raw materials.

Military triage is an example of allocating medical resources on the battlefield. Soldiers die with a “Next in Line” protocol.

Here’s the real deal about economics. What everybody wants adds up to more than there is. There is not enough of everything to satisfy everyone completely, especially when it comes to fulfilling those pesky ‘unmet needs.’

‘Unmet needs’ is a subjective term. Politicians, journalists, academicians, and social justice warriors are always pointing out social and cultural ‘unmet needs’ in our society that should be met by some government funded program.

‘Unmet needs’ always cause disagreement. Peter gets robbed to pay Paul.

Your non-profit organization or government agency addresses one of these ‘unmet needs.’ I’m sure you do not have all the resources you would like to get your job done. Undoubtedly, you have, or are, or will be fighting a Peter/Paul battle of shifting resources to continue your work.

Yes, you would be happier in a world where you didn’t have to fight for your resources. No hard choices. No trade-offs. Everything is there for you to do what you have to do. Unfortunately, this is not the world we human beings live in – or have ever lived in.

And, unfortunately, huge effort is needed to best use what resources you have and/or get what resources you don’t have to ensure your existence and/or well-being.

Spoiler alert: If you do not do this the universe will decide for you.

You can take consolation in the fact that everyone you know is fighting some Peter/Paul economics battle. This is one reason marketing is finally being taken seriously in some circles. Bout time.

Keep working on your persuasion skills. But, know this also. There’s more to your job than just persuading people you’re right and your solution is something they should jump on. You have got to produce results also.