So back to, what I thought, was going to be some rather simple yard improvements. It was July in Nevada when we started. For those of you not familiar Nevada that is the equivalent of saying the temperature outside was Hell on earth. Our first task, I was told, was to remove an Elm tree in the yard. One week later, and a few pounds lighter, and still on that same damn tree, I looked my father square in the eye and told him, "ya know, we could rent a machine to do this". He responded, "yeah, for 500 bucks", and went back to chopping at the roots.
My education into economics at that point was very limited. But now I know the value of trade and opportunity cost. My old man only looked at one side of the equation, him having to pay someone for a machine that could do a job that he himself could do with his own labor. What he failed to realize is that the inventor of the machine had created a comparative advantage over the physical labor of his competitors. He also failed to remember that he had a comparative advantage over the owner of the machine with his legal knowledge. So we all lost out economically. My father could have traded his legal expertise for the 4 hours needed from the machine to do the job that took us two weeks!