Back in high school we had a run for charity, x laps around the track for so many dollars per lap. I forget the charity but showing early signs of an economic mind, or perhaps a lazy body, I decided that it would be much more efficient to get the money and avoid the running (today, I would say avoid the rent seeking). Thus, I solicited donations with the promise that I would run just one lap.
Unsurprisingly, the other students were most displeased when I sauntered around the track finishing just as everyone else was beginning to work up a sweat. More surprisingly, the charity organizers didn’t like my methods even though I raised a lot of money.
I had to go to graduate school in economics before I really began to understand why. Eric Crampton, subbing for Bryan Caplan at EconLog, has the details.
By the way, its been said that crazy people go to graduate school in psychology in an effort to understand themselves. Perhaps the socially obtuse go to graduate school in economics for reasons that are somewhat similar. See here on yours truly and also Greg Mankiw’s related comments.