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Penny Wise. Time Foolish.

Written by Gary North on December 10, 2016

The labor theory of value blinded the classical economists, pre-1870.

They thought that labor produces value. Then why is a diamond worth so much, even one that someone just happens to see shining in the dirt, which he picks up?

Here is economic logic: the expectation of value calls forth the labor and time and raw materials required to meet future demand . . . and pocket the money.

Here is life’s grim trade-off: time vs. money.

When you are young, you have little money. Your time is not worth much. So, you learn how to get ahead by saving money and investing time.

This becomes habitual. It shapes your behavior. It shapes your mind. It is a trap. Most people never escape this trap. This is another reason why most people are never highly successful.

“It takes money to make money.” We are told this early in life. The people telling us this are successful. Why? Because they learned no later than age 25 that they must save time. The best way to save time is to spend money.

People who are successful do not spend money to waste time. They treasure their time. Why? Because they have to pay for it.

They can increase their income by increasing their output. They increase their output by shifting from investing time to investing money.

They identify those areas of their lives that absorb 80% of their time, but produce only 20% of their output. They consciously shift to those areas of their lives that produce 80% of their output with 20% of their time.

This is the best way to get rich. You must identify the time-sucks that absorb most of your time without producing most of your satisfaction-producing output.

Here are a few steps in reallocating your time.

1. Budget your TV time. My wife and I started this in 1974. We paid 25 cents for each 30-minute show we watched, news shows excepted. We donated the money to charity. We cut our viewing to an hour a night.

We use a TiVo type device. We race through ads. We will not watch non-news shows live. We will not watch ads. It costs us $5 a month to rent the device. It’s worth it.

Pay $4 a night for classic movies. Don’t watch free reruns of mediocre movies or expired TV shows.

2. Pay for information. Do not waste time searching for information. Subscribe to specialized sites that glean the good stuff. Pay the editor to invest his time. Use him to overcome Sturgeon’s law: “90% of everything is crap.” Search out productive sites.

3. Hire specialists. We understand this regarding routine tasks that we hate, such as mowing the lawn and washing the car. But the principle is harder to honor when it gets close to our work. We think we cannot be replaced. The time sucks start sucking our time. I don’t proofread my articles carefully. I hire a specialist. I also have a forum for typos. Some readers read my articles at 1 a.m. my time. At 3 a.m., I read the posts and make corrections. This is good; it’s free.

Most homeschool mothers are convinced that they must invest many hours a week to produce well-educated children. This is a mistake. The videos on the Khan Academy and the Ron Paul Curriculum are far better for student learning than a mother who uses textbooks that she has never actually read. She may spend 20 hours a week teaching instead of one hour reading weekly student essays. She thinks her kids are better off this way. They are worse off. They become dependent on her for learning new material. Then they go off to college. Mom isn’t there to select the textbooks, to plead, to nag, and to intervene. It does not take a helicopter curriculum to teach well. A student-piloted curriculum works far better. Mothers should allocate their precious time more productively to other family projects. But the vast majority will not turn loose of textbook/workbook education. Their time dribbles away. (I have tested this with Google AdWords. Parents do not respond to ads that promise huge time savings or their money back. They pay a heavy price that is academically self-defeating for their children.)

4. Social media. It’s not that social. Ill-informed people post trivia. You have to skim it. It’s not worth skimming. This is junk mail on a colossal scale. There are diamonds in the dirt, but not often enough.

What you need is to be part of a by-invitation-only group of inveterate readers who post gems. Put the division of labor to use.

That’s what GaryNorth.com’s forums are for. The paywall screens out the crazies and the time sucks. You must pay to avoid them.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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