Reply To: Means are always scarce?


Economizing has two dimensions: choosing higher valued ends to attain with given means and choosing lower-valued means to use to attain a given end. As long a stretching is just one alternative end you can pursue with given means and as long as using the boards in combination with other means is just one alternative combinations of means, then you have choice in both dimensions of the action.

Hypothetically, there could be actions for which there is only one combination of means that can attain the end. In that case, a person has only one dimension of choice. In choosing the end he simultaneously chooses the means. But, even in this case, the means are still scarce.

Every action takes place in the set of circumstances. These circumstances are either general conditions, i.e., elements of the situation that a person does not control in the action, or means, i.e., elements of the situation that a person does control in the action. If something is abundant to a person, i.e., if he has more than enough of it to satisfy all his ends, then it is a general condition. He does not need to integrate a general condition into his valuing and choosing when he acts. He may technically or physically employ it, but he does not act with respect to it. If we could imagine a situation in which all elements were general conditions for a person (which is obviously impossible in our world), then he would not engage in human action. He would be engaged in activity but his behavior would not be categorized as human action.