Seeing Continous and Multi-level as Binary

Y. B. Karasik,
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.
e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

A reader of the CNN article "The Fed's worst nightmare" posted the following response to it:

It is correct that ability to buy less is generally preferable to ability to buy nothing. However, inflation vs recession is not about this dilemma. It is about another one: how many people will be able to buy above the bare minimum and how many people will not be able to buy even the minimum livelihood. And the number of the latter includes not only those who will lose jobs but also those who lives on pensions, investment income, etc. Moreover, wages of how many workers will fell below that minimum ? For them it would not matter whether having job is preferable to making less money or not. To them it would be the same.

The error of Mr. Rich F. thinking is substituting dilemma "ability to buy above minimum vs inability to do so" by dilemma "ability to buy something vs inability to buy anything". They are equivalent only when minimum is set to zero. People often think in terms of "all or nothing" instead of "above some level or below it". Probably because binary discrete vision of the world comes first and more subtle continous spectrum vision is only attained later and not by everyone.