1. Think for a moment about your own life — the activities of your day, the possessions you enjoy, the surroundings in which you live. Is there anything you don’t have at this moment that you would like to have? Anything that you have, but that you would like more of? If your answer is “no,” then congratulations — either you are well advanced on the path of Zen self-denial, or else you are a close relative of Ted Turner . The rest of us, however, would benefit from an increase in our material standard of living. This simple truth is at the very core of economics. It can be restated this way: we all face the problem of scarcity.
2 Almost everything in your daily life is scarce. You would benefit from a larger room or apartment, so you have a scarcity of space. You have only two pairs of shoes and could use a third for hiking; you have a scarcity of shoes. You would love to take a trip to Chicago, but it is difficult for you to find the time or the money to go — trips to Chicago are scarce.
3 Because of scarcity, each of us is forced to make choices. We must allocate our scarce time to different activities: work, play, education, sleep, shopping, and more. We must allocate our scarce spending power among different goods and services: food, furniture, movies, long-distance phone calls, and many others.
4 Economists study the choices we make as individuals and how those choices shape our economy. For example, the goods that each of us decides to buy ultimately determine which goods business firms will produce. This, in turn, explains which firms and industries will hire new workers and which will lay them off.
5. Economists also study the more subtle and indirect effects of individual choice on our society. Will most Americans continue to live in houses, or — like Europeans will most of us end up in apartments? Will we have an educated and well-informed citizenry? Will museums and libraries be forced to close down? Will traffic congestion in our cities continue to worsen, or is there relief in sight? These questions hinge, in large part, on the separate decisions of millions of people. To answer them requires an understanding of how people make choices under conditions of scarcity.
6. Think for a moment about the goals of our society. We want a high standard of living for all citizens: clean air, safe streets, and good schools. What is holding us back from accomplishing all of these goals in a way that would satisfy everyone? You probably already know the answer: scarcity. 1. 想一想你的生活：你每天从事的活动，你所拥有的财产，你所居住的环境。此时此刻，你是否希望拥有一些你所没有的东西？对于那些你已经拥有的，你是否希望拥有更多？如果你的答案是否定的，那么恭喜你：你要么早已看破红尘，要么就是腰缠万贯。然而，我们大多数人的答案却是肯定的，我们都希望拥有更多，从而进一步提高物质生活水平。这一简单的真理就是经济学的核心。我们或许可以重新表述这个问题：我们都面临稀缺。