Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our Best Chance of Taking Their Place

Tyler Cowen, the author of “An Economist Gets Lunch,” argued recently that, out of the dozens of restaurants in Washington, D.C., that aspire to be first class, only five to ten really are at any given time. A restaurant can be great for its first three to six months—as the chefs and the owners strive to make the best possible impression on diners and reviewers. But, “once these places become popular, their obsession with quality slacks off,” Cowen writes. “They become socializing scenes. . . . Their audiences become automatic.” [...] Social and economic mobility, in any system, is essentially slack arbitrage: hard work is a successful strategy for those at the bottom because those at the top no longer work so hard. By custom, we disparage the idleness of the idle rich. We should encourage it. It is our best chance of taking their place.
"Slackers: Alberto Salazar and the art of exhaustion" by Malcolm Gladwell