Breathing? $1 please.

How crazy is this? Someone charges you for breathing. You, right now, breathing. You can’t deny it, Gentle Reader, for I know you breathe. My theory of biology says that if you’re alive, you have to breathe. Biology predicts that you will continue to breathe as long as you’re alive.

Prediction is the hallmark of science. I like to think that any discipline becomes a true science once it has acquired the ability to predict. This makes chemistry and physics true science. It also means that economics and sociology aren’t quite there.

Let’s try to make a behavioral prediction, based on prior experience. One experience that our society has had over the past several decades is this simple fact; bottled water has become popular. Water, one of the hallmarks of our advanced civilization, has been provided abundantly and cheaply to the entire population. Someone took the same water (fundamentally), put it in a bottle and sold it. We bought it.

As an observer, I’m not being judgmental. This is only an observation. You probably buy bottled water. I have also bought bottled water. But I don’t own any stock in bottled water companies. There. Full disclosure.

Now, back to being a student of behavior. We’ve seen this development of people buying bottled water in the face of an abundant cheap substitute. What’s next?

Bottled air. How much longer (not if, but when!) will it take before people in general are afraid of breathing the air? Pollution, bugs, and maybe the fact that it doesn’t have the right scent or right mix of gasses?

Or think of it this way. Our society enforces clean air standards on automobiles and factories so that our collective air is clean. What if they started passing those costs onto us in a direct form? So with your chicken comes a separate bill for clean air. Every time you buy a car you pay a clean air charge.

And in the most extreme, how much longer till you sign up with a bottled air company to come and plug in a new bottle of air for your home once a month? Pure, clean, mountain air from the Himalayas brought to you fresh.

Sounds crazy, today. But what about tomorrow?

I’m going for a drink.

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