Economics is about communication. This is the story of the one quarter difference.
At the washing machine in our society there is a washer and a dryer. Dryers are usually a quarter and washers $1.50 or $2.00 in my experience of the culture but in this case, at the
Days Inn in Illinois where I've been know to stay (Naperville), it wanted like five quarters in each
machine. Something like that: Anyway, I started with the washer.
I put in my five quarters. But the machine wouldn't start. My favorite desk clerk is called "Steve," although as an Indian only three years off the boat, I hardly think his parents named him "Steve" in anticipation of his future migration. Anyways, my best friend at the motel says we need an extra quarter.
Now there is an economics lesson there somewhere. I don't know where it is exactly, but
it's in there somewhere.
At first, I thought: "That quarter is something I would never have time to negotiate about. If a market
economic system depends on negotiation of price that motel just got a free
Why? ... well there was no way I was going to haul all the clothes out of it for lack of a quarter, and, likewise/also I am not going to ruin my relationship with the clerk -- my Indian friend Steve (a new American, and an excellent one --- unlike some of our other immigrants who head straight for the financial sector to bundle derivatives that they sell to your grandmother) -- over an argument about a quarter. Do you kno whot I mean?"
OK, so those are a few thoughts I had, as I....scrambled my way back up to post-industrial society's "place of washing." It's on the second piso just above my intimate friend's head, as he absorbs credit card payments into our beautiful financial architecture, by credit card. To the money sucking machine I go with trembling, eager hands with my coin, and I put the additional quarter in; I was satisfied when things began to actually function (rare in my life). In other words, the washer did work at that point. Which was, for me, a satisfying experience OK.
Then I thought, along basically the same theoretical lines, that I would perhaps put in another six quarters, to dry. This is a
bit much (1 X 6: --- that's for those of you who are easily impressed by mathematics) and in that case, how long would it take before society demanded a better price and some real changes are made at the laundry machine level of our culture? Eventually, of course, supply has to meet demand. It just won't happen right away.
These were my thoughts, but then I had a thought that seemed better than any of the others. The essence of the whole process, I realized is communication. Economics is about communication.
What does that mean?, you ask. Well, ...that the free market (capitalistic) system works as long as there is communication. And in the work of Hayek (whom I despise as a Right-winger of course) he does mention this kind of thing. It is about the communications of members of society. The system only works if communication works. Think on that one for a moment.
All of these meetings in the marketplace, whether there really are adjustments of prices based on consumer decisions at all, or not always, or whether it happens right away or not, all this depends on communication and communication is more important than anything else. It is therefore communication that the free market
system depends on, and, perhaps, this is more important than something that is after all a mere fact --- a simple facticity you might say (Homi K. Bhabha might say that), that, hey, since money is quantitative, the prices can vary. That's just dross. At a deeper level, it is about communication.