The Soup Kitchen Example
By Arnold Kling
In this category are all the things you do when a person typically thinks of “fighting poverty.” Serve in a soup kitchen. Donate canned goods. Sponsor a child. Fight for the right candidates and public policies. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Do all that “change the world” stuff you see lionized on television and movies. But be humble about it . . . because you won’t be making much of a difference to anyone.
Up until this paragraph, his focus is on staying married and living within your means.
Is serving in a soup kitchen such a good thing to do? It’s probably not your comparative advantage. I think that straight economic analysis would say that you should instead use that time to work extra hours and donate your additional earnings to the people who might need to get their meals from a soup kitchen. If the best use of that money is soup from a soup kitchen, then they can buy it there, served by people for are paid enough to work in a soup kitchen to cover their opportunity cost.
Assume that you are altruistic, so that you want to help the people who might need the soup kitchen. Is my proposal the correct one to choose, or is David French correct? Be sure to specify as clearly as possible the deviations from rationality assumed in your answer.