Opportunity Cost Theory


Liberty, Opportunity Cost, and Entitlement

To argue a restriction of Liberty, consider the alternative or opportunity cost.

  • If you were to offer me $1 per hour to mow your lawn, you have only added to my available opportunities. It may be a shitty offer, but the opportunity cost - that is if you never made the offer - is me doing whatever I was going to do regardless of your offer. Offering an opportunity is not a restriction on liberty.
  • Lets say I were to build a road 100 miles long, which happens to run between your house and your neighbor's house. The opportunity cost, or alternative, is that no road has been built. If you (#1) demanded to travel the road to the neighboring town for free, that would be akin to demanding a service be offered, since that opportunity wasn't previously available. If you instead (#2) demanded to have a means of crossing the road to visit your neighbor, that would be far more reasonable.
  • The opportunity cost of the contents of a novel is the novel never being written. On the one hand, you have a novel you can't copy word-for-word. On the other you have no novel, which you can't copy anyway. By writing a novel and allowing you to read it, the author has in no way restricted your liberties, but rather added to your opportunities.


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