The Big Score And Bad Economics

(Sorry for the delay in posts, been a tad busy!)

Economic policies, economic choices like careers and business plans, are of utmost importance in life.  Sun Tzu may have talked the importance of war, but I wish the guy had taken a little more time to focus on economic issues as well.  Then again he was kind of busy being brilliant.*

When one considers economic issues in a society, the most important thing is sustainability – can one maintain a functional system or even enhance it over time.   This is necessary to society as society itself is essentially a long-term thing – no long-term economics, no society as many nations have found out throughout history.  When there is no planning and cultivating of a sustainable economy (or half-baked planning constrained by ignorance, ideology, or moral faults) there is no stability, no success, and no society.

Needless to say I see great examples of bad planning and bad policy today.  Hopefully you see them, but by now fish may have no word for water.**

There are many reasons for that, but one thing I feel should be examined – and which is not examined as much as it should be – is the idea of the “Big Score.”

The “Big Score” permeates our culture and our economic culture.  It’s the lottery win, the perfect IPO release, the Big Novel that makes you famous for life.  It’s the idea of having the bit, the big victory, and then everything will be fine.  It’s the economic version of the Rapture.

In the small, the “Big Score” is believing that college degree will set you for life – and in the large it is the idea that our student loan bubble won’t hurt “us.”  In the small, the “Big Score” is the idea of the IPO that’ll make you rich forever, and in the large everyone thinking they’ll be the next Facebook before the VC pulls out.  In the small, the “Big Score” is hoping for a piddly tax break you’re convinced will jump start the economy forever, while wondering what happened to the school system.

In a way, the “Big Score” is the Winner-Take-All/Superstar effect internalized.  It’s the idea you will/can triumph and have it all fantastic forever.  You just need to get there “once”, forgetting plenty of others want to get there too.

Of course we don’t get there.  We don’t build a sustainable system, a sustainable economy, a sustainable career, a sustainable life.  We focus too much on the low-chance “Big Score” and not enough on the possibility of a sustainable economy or economic life.

Then we wonder what happened.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

* I do recommend reading “The Art Of War” so you can know about what everyone pretends they read.

** I could have made an “underwater housing” joke here, but didn’t.  You’re welcome.