Politics Analysis

$368 billion leagues under the sea: The Opportunity Cost of staying afloat

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

The subject of this story is Opportunity Cost, which is an economics term that refers to the choices you didn’t make.

If the poet Robert Frost was an economist, for instance, he may have quantified the cost of taking the road he didn’t follow when the two paths diverged in a yellowish scrub. Or something like that.

The point is that every decision has consequences, financially. At least according to most leading economists (a subset of our supposedly sane society that seldom includes Robert Frost, regrettably).

Economics purports to be an empirical science, and bolsters this rather unfounded assertion with a gamut of serious-sounding theories, backed up by obstructively obtuse jargon and decidedly Delphic equations.

All of it, essentially, is a rank load of fetid horse squirt. That is, apart from two basic concepts: supply and demand, and opportunity cost.

Let’s ignore supply and demand, because if you subscribe to Independent Australia, we expect you to at least understand an X/Y graph. Opportunity cost, however, is a concept that, in the experience of IA, is seldom fully understood or appreciated.

It’s an odd term, opportunity cost, when you think about it, but still rather elegant — as opposed to much of the shambles that passes for economics. Don’t get us started on comparative and absolute advantage!

Opportunity cost is the concept whereby an individual may choose to pursue, without duress, a particular university course, such as economics for example, thereby foregoing the pursuit of anything worthwhile.

For the past ten years, under Coalition rule, the opportunity cost of what they termed “unfunded empathy” was not siphoning quite so much money to their corporate donors.

In terms of our current national priorities, it would appear that the Labor Party has decided that the opportunity cost of, for instance, not making university tuition more affordable by detaching HECS temporarily from our rampant inflation rate, is two or three American nuclear submarines by 2040 or 2050, barring cost and scheduling overruns.

And when the kids finally end up paying for their totally worthwhile economics degrees, if ever, it’s assured they will feel profound satisfaction, just before they draw thier terminal breath.

Which is much better than being taken over by a rampant China, 100 times our size, that is somehow evilly intent on fighting submarine battles against Australia’s two or three submersible nuclear craft, in a few decades, maybe. For a scant $368 billion dollars, or some other atmospherically incomprehensible amount.

Talk about Blue Meanies! It is not AUKUS, but despotic China’s evil intransigence that is making our nation sacrifice the opportunity cost of adequate hospital and dental care, reasonable JobSeeker payments, and dignified housing for all Australians.

Meanwhile, because China is not going to invade, the overall opportunity cost of not doing the above is a small measure of American disapproval.

And the opportunity cost of electing Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government was not electing a Liberal Government that doesn’t give a damn about Australians.

Maybe Frost can do the sums and see whether that choice really was the high road, or just a bubble or two from the deepest trench.

This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter – usually only available to subscribers – and may be read online in the IA members-only area.

You can read more from IA founder and publisher Dave Donovan on Twitter @davroszFollow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus, Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.

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