world full of constraints. There’s never enough time or money to do everything people want, and things like curing cancer are still impossible because the necessary technologies haven’t been developed yet. But people are clever. They tinker and invent, ponder and innovate. They look at what they have and what they can do with it and take steps to make sure that if they can’t have everything, they’ll at least have as much as possible.
Having to choose is a fundamental part of everyday life. The science that studies how people choose — economics — is indispensable if you really want to understand human beings both as individuals and as members of larger organizations. Sadly, though, economics has typically been explained so badly that people either dismiss it as impenetrable gobbledygook or stand falsely in awe of it — after all, if it’s hard to understand, it must be important, right?
The Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle called economics the “dismal science,” but I’m going to do my best to make sure that you don’t come to agree with him. I’ve organized this book to try to get as much economics into you as quickly and effortlessly as possible. I’ve also done my best to keep it lively and fun.