July 03, 2008

There is no free lunch

Follow-up to The World Is Flat from Ross' Blog

One of the few things I remember from a dreaded Macroeconomics class in a university module is that “there is no free lunch”, I think he meant that is there is always a cost involved in doing things.

I wouldn’t like to think that he meant that all situations are win-lose, but that there is a cost that sometimes can’t be explained straightaway or is hidden (I am sure that others may be able to come with better explanations and definitions, but I feel mine is good enough).

I remembered that there is no free lunch while I was reading this review of the book “the World id flat” when the reviewer is giving a definition of “flattening”

The ‘flattening’ the author is referring to is the recent removal or destruction of barriers that have kept diverse parties from completely and easily interacting or exchanging information with one another.

Although I found that this definition explains well what is meant by the author, I wonder whether other words could be used rather than these as the use of words like “removal” and “destruction” worry me as in economics it is known that “there is no free lunch”, as these things are not going to happen for free.

I feel also that this shows a negative perspective, I think the term “flattener” that Friedman uses is much more positive and it focuses on the consequences of the “change”. e.g. ipods. However if some changes are making the world flatter, there should be positive and negative consequences. From what I read in the review Friedman only focuses on the positive.

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