Paintball and Bail-out Economics

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Yesterday was the annual birthday paintball outing. 9th year in row as each son preferred this kind of celebration. Lovely weather after several days of rain resulting in more guests than planned. Rented 15 guns with 500 paintballs each – 7,500 paintballs. Was certain that this number of shots would last us 2 hours. And I instructed each player that

‘this is your bag of 500 paintballs. Please make them last as when you are out of ammo, there will be no resupply.’

In the past, each player received 200 paintballs and I purchased an extra case of 2,000 that I would dispense throughout the play, a maximum of 5,000 paintballs. We never used more than this number.

As you might imagine from this saga, we went through the 7,500 in less than 2 hours, maybe 90 minutes. How?! I wondered aloud. Because players did not manage their own allotments, but rather chose to use a bag of 500 to fill as many guns as possible, then open another. On the surface, seems like a generous way of allocating materials. No so fast. If we all have all of the ammunition, why the need for conservation of resources. In the spirit of community ownership, we used 50{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} more resources in less time than in the previous 8 years.

I wonder how the unintentional consequence of wasting by sharing might characterize the bailout and financial stimulus plans approved by banks and soon, when Obama assumes office, for the economy as a whole.

‘This is yours for you to manage’

seems to be the more efficient and conservative (of resources) method more than the perspective of:

‘this is ours and we are responsible for replenishment.’