The Economics and Ecology of The Wire | Max Woolf

Max Woolf is a motivational speaker and career coach for Gen Y and beyond. Max speaks to organizations, groups, sports teams, and individuals to help them maximize their potential, live life more fully, and discover their passion and purpose. He has developed a new context for living that invigorates life experiences and improves quality of life called Living at the Edge.

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The Economics and Ecology of The Wire

Published on 31 January 2008 by in Blog, The Wire

Omar “Big Baller” Little

“You are not just one in a million, but rather you are one in a million.”

Last night, I went to bed at 11:30pm and set my alarm for 1:30am in order to wake up in the middle of the night to watch the most recent episode of The Wire. Some of you may laugh, others of you may sigh, but if you’re a true fan of The Wire, then you’ll understand. Currently in its fifth season, The Wire continues to be the best show on television!

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Last night, while watching The Wire, I finally understood a basic economic concept that I learned my freshman year in college. On my very first day of economics, I was told that economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Although I cognitively understood this as an economics major, it was not until watching The Wire last night that I understood true meaning of the phrase.

In The Wire, the limiting factor to fixing the problems in the city of Baltimore is scarce resources. Whether it is the ability of the police department to stop crime, the newspaper reporters to uncover real news, or the politicians to change the inherent problems in the political system, each group faces the same problem: scarce resources. All the policeman, reporters, and politicians want to make a difference in their community, but money, incomplete information, time, and limited manpower prevent them from getting the job done.

Sadly, scarce resources are frequently the limiting factor to making a difference in our own realities and the world. We are part of systems, bureaucracies, or networks that do not properly allocate scarce resources and we become frustrated, angry, or just give up. Even the mind is a scarce resource when we are unable to determine how to solve a problem or resolve a conflict; we choose to limit our thinking rather than face uncertainty and uncomfortable situations.

So what can we do? Well, the good news is that a strong will can overcome scarce resources! As long as we do not let ourselves become scarce resources, in terms of our passion, will or drive, then we can make a difference in our own reality. We can live in abundance despite the scarcity.

Economics is study of the allocation of scarce resources. Economics is not the study of how to wallow in the misery of lack. Simply by being aware of the reality of the situation: the incomplete information, the lack of motivation, the limitations of our sphere of influence, etc, we can do what we can to be abundant. I believe that everyone wants to make this world a better place, but the existence of scarce resources frequently leads people to behave in strange ways. We assume that our efforts are hopeless and futile. After all, there is always someone who is doing better and someone who is doing worse, how can an individual make an impact? The answer is that you are not just one in a million, but rather, you are one in a million!

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My friend Ellen is starting Toussaints, a green construction company, in Boston. She is starting this company because her heart and her vision are aligned. She wants to help people become more conscious and aware of their place in this world. Ellen’s greatest gift is her ability to understand people, and by understanding people, she is able to help others better understand themselves. And when you are visionary, whose goal is not about the product or the service, but about the value of the employee, the value of the organization, and the value of the values then your vision will succeed because your vision is for a higher purpose larger than just yourself.

Sustainable ecology teaches us to learn from nature by understanding that the fragile ecosystems in which we live are what allow us to live. By looking at the delicate balance of humans and nature on a global scale, we are able to see how we can affect small changes in our own communities. Sustainable ecology and green construction are about integration, collaboration, and doing the best that you can to make this world a better place in your own sphere of influence. As long as you run a transparent, sustainable, and responsible organization, you are keeping these things in mind. You are being a compassionate leader facilitating positive change in your organization and the world!

In The Wire, there are three main ecosystems: the law (the policemen and the drug dealers); the paper (the reporters and the sources); and the hall (the mayor and the bureaucrats). Each of these ecosystems exists as a separate, but inextricably interrelated economic ecosystem. Baltimore is the larger ecosystem, but McNulty, Carcetti, Marlow, and Gus are too distracted by the failures in their own networks to work together to affect change on a whole; Only Omar is truly able to put it all together!

So again, I ask, what can we do? Your ecosystem must be cultivated and carefully maintained in order for the system to perpetuate itself and sustain itself. And that is what sustainable ecology and green construction are all about. They are about realizing that change and transformation are a part of life; rather than be overwhelmed by the existence of scarce resources, you acknowledge its existence and overcome. It’s about sustaining the existence of human beings with nature. Not for nature’s sake and not for human’s sake, but for our collective sake.

If you’ve been thinking since the end of the last section that you’re one in a million, don’t forget that you’re just one in a million…

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