35 Years On, I think that “Postliberal” sums it up
I knew somebody who was running a new-product initiative at a major company. He was quite irritated at having to live within a budget...his argument was that the (quite substantial) money he was spending was *investment*.A few years later, it was finally recognized that this product initiative had failed. Had the costs actually been treated as investment, then there would have been a considerable writeoff when the lack of success was understood.
People use the word "investment" to mean "a sure thing--it will absolutely pay back in spades if only someone will front the initial cost!" And sometimes it's true, but it's a good idea for the person whose money is being risked to be the same one deciding it's a worthwhile risk.Because no matter how sure a thing it is, a cost is still a cost. An investment is a cost that someone genuinely believes won't be money down the drain, but it's still money spent. Otherwise I could characterize my entire household budget as a zero-cost investment. After all, when I buy food, am I not investing in my survival for the next few weeks? A cost may be prudent, it may be unavoidable if we want to survive, but you can't spend the same money twice for different things. There's always an opportunity cost. It won't help to "invest" in solar cells today if you're not going to able to afford food next week.We automatically keep most of this kind of thinking straight in our heads when we're not spending other people's money. OPM is the real opiate of the masses, right after socialist fantasies.
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