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Showing posts from August, 2016

The Public Good

There exists a game by which the famed economist Paul Samuelson, with support from fellow economist Amartya Sen, contends that the self-interested economic man is revealed to be a rational fool. The game here is one in which eight participants individually enter a room with five one-dollar bills — that is, each individual holds in his or her possession five one-dollar bills. 
Let us suspend for a moment, and in doing so indulge the position of imprudent economists, any curiosity regarding the source of these five-dollar windfalls to conveniently afford the game the convenient assumption that some form of recognized labor, or sacrifice, enabled their acquisition and their utility as money.
The participants are then informed that their anonymous donations to the envelope of “public good” will be doubled then distributed evenly amongst the participants. 
The prediction in this game, as forecasted by the aforementioned economists, is that the individual, facing an 80% loss on his individ…

The Psychological Side of Sunk Costs

Writing off any so-called sunk cost as immaterial to any present decision is equivalent to writing off a relationship, perhaps a marriage, as soon as it proves to be disadvantageous instead of recalling its history or perhaps imagining its future. In terms of sunk costs, the modern economist may easily dismiss those costs, especially in the modern economy, when expenses are facilitated by work which has become less laborious than in prior generations. 
If, for example, a laborer were to purchase a football ticket with an amount of cash earned from fifty days of hard labor, the economist may expect that laborer to go to relatively greater lengths, perhaps despite the winter storm of the season, than a counterpart who spent a fraction of his daily earnings, or perhaps a friend who benefited from a "free" ticket.  
This is, after all, representative of all of those days of painstaking work, a feature of life which may be long forgotten due to the relative ease with which incom…

Blight: More Government "Solutions" to Government-Created Problems

The subject of blight has nearly become ubiquitous in the wake of the dilapidation of cities such as Detroit and Baltimore. One topic which has recently entered the theater of the newsroom has been the restoration of these cities. NPR’s podcast “Planet Money” covers this topic with a charismatic investigation into the specific case of the 900 block in the city of Baltimore. 
This podcast, entitled “Unbuilding A City,” specifically highlights a federal law known as the Uniform Act, which was passed in 1970 to establish “minimum standards for federally funded programs and projects that [either] require the acquisition of real property (real estate) or displace persons from their homes, businesses, or farms. The Uniform Act's protections and assistance apply to the acquisition, rehabilitation, or demolition of real property for federal or federally funded projects.” 
This act was originally intended to afford reasonable accommodations for those individuals whose real property fell v…

The Value of Speculation

Speculators, who are often the target of particular scrutiny in terms of weighing on the prices of commodities such as oil, are found to bear negligible weight on the actual price in comparison to fundamental and ancillary drivers such as monetary policy, geopolitical events, and pure supply and demand often spawning from those other drivers. 
Speculators, wherever they are found to influence price directionality, are effectively affording intelligent cautionary signals to producers whose rapacious appetites for profits are tempered in the immediacy for higher gains in a future wherein the utility for the given commodity, as gauged by projected price as a consequence of a climbing demand-to-supply ratio, will be measurably, perhaps desperately greater. 
The reader here must first recognize, however, that speculative activity in today’s financial markets is far more artificially-driven and ubiquitous than in previous, more normal times, today compelled by artificially-low rates of int…

The Value of Guilt

The self-monitoring individual, who benefits from the ills of guilt, is regulated by the expectations of future gain or pleasure which are vaguely estimated and weighed against alternatives in a present in which those options may be at odds. 
When considering going for a run, for example, when tempted by sleep, Olympic programming on TV, a relaxing reading session or a satisfying breakfast, how does the individual determine the value of a suspension of one in favor of the other? It seems that there may be some chronological compatibility or avoided guilt-induced trauma which may, after all, enhance the quality of some experience in the future, which may supplement the aforementioned suspended endeavors or may, in the end, completely exceed their expected value to justify the chronological configuration or even their outright displacement. 
This is extremely important to the discussion of the welfare state, whereby the nudging force of guilt is displaced from the financial sphere of i…

The Fixed Pie Fallacy

The fixed pie fallacy demonstrates how people often regard the marketplace as containing a limited supply of work, whereby one individual’s production is deliverable only at the complete expense of another. I emphasize the operative adjective complete because this exhaustion of resources or the conveyance of some service is interpreted as an encroachment upon the single viable mechanism by which this pinpointed victim (of commercial progress, mind you) may become gainfully employed. Of course, this assumption is categorically false, as there is nearly an infinite appetite among individuals for goods and services, ranging from the menial to the most sophisticated. 
In fact, the expansion and reach of labor-saving devices, combined with their productive might, enable a form of scaled labor which returns relatively progressive compensation, in forms of face-value financial gain and diluted on-the-job risk, to enrich the sea of career options in forms which may not recognizably appear on …

The Price of Equality: A Participation Society

Those promoting the notions of equality fail to recognize that their deity fails to exist in both theory and practice, as no two objects, whether notional or physical, can occupy the same space in time.

Ultimately, suggesting that all people are equal is analogous to claiming that a BMW 320i is equivalent to an M3, purely because they appear identical.

One isn't necessarily "better" than the other, but their qualities can widely vary.

Even in the social arena, the philosophical tenet of equality was originally introduced in the classical liberal tradition as a form of targeted equality in the eyes of the law, not between individuals. This distinction escapes most people, including the Winklevoss twins in this scene from the acclaimed 2010 film The Social Network, wherein Larry Summers informs the two students, "You enter into a code of ethics with the university, not with each other."

There exists a tremendous distinction between a targeted equality before the …

Short Track or Juiced Field

There is just so much to cover from yesterday: LeDucky dominates again, Phelps grabs silver in typical come-from-behind style in a three-way tie, Ervin takes home gold in the 50-meter freestyle 16 years after winning gold in that event, and I may be forgetting something... Nah, I think that’s all the legitimate news coming from the Olympics. The rest simply fails to jive with any narrative rooted in reality, desperately requiring a complete overhaul of the history and trajectory of the sport of running to make any sense. I am now inspired to reconsider the nature and history of this sport, the ubiquity of questionable behavior, and whether there is anything that can be done to insulate the sport from these influences. 
Throughout my running career and as a fan of this sport, I had never experienced the feeling that wafted over me while observing the utter demolition of Wang Junxia’s, an admitted doper, 1993 mark. We’ve scarcely witnessed at any Olympics in recent memory any world-rec…