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The Elegant Economy Does Not Economize

 |  October 11, 2023

By: Ramsi Woodcock (University of Kentucky/What Am I Missing Blog)

In art, we use “elegant” to describe works that mask their execution challenges while radiating power and simplicity. These pieces, even if created through a lifetime of effort, display an aura of ease. Once the scaffolding, draftsman’s guidelines, and manuscript markings are erased, what remains is pure simplicity and flawlessness, seemingly emerging fully formed like a creation of divine origin.

This principle of elegance should extend to providing goods and services, essentially meaning a seamless and uncomplicated acquisition, echoing the sense of “free.” The ideal experience should mirror walking in and effortlessly obtaining what one needs—an elegantly simple acquisition. Any other approach, particularly involving visible payments, exposes the production’s underlying complexity and is seen as lacking elegance.

The underlying challenge in economics is to craft a system that fuels economic growth and allows maximal acquisition without burdening individuals with affordability concerns. An elegant economic approach would aim to shield individuals from the arduous task of economizing, artfully concealing the inevitable laws of scarcity. While absolute ‘free’ is unattainable due to scarcity, smart bundling of goods stands as a strategy to reduce the perceived instances of payments, aligning with the objective of an elegant economic system that smooths the acquisition experience…