I’m not even Catholic anymore. (Check the comments.)
This reminds me of when Jay Leno thought he was the pope of Detroit
As a devout Catholic, Bob, I appreciate your comments.
Imagine you’re in charge of the Republican Party caucus in St. Charles County, MO, and the fact that any registered Republican from that county can join the caucus and vote is intended to ensure that the makeup of the caucus members is representative of the views of not just a specific group, and then all these Ron Paul supporters show up to take over the causus.
*Fades back … SCORE!*
I agree with your point. Landsburg clearly doesn’t think the church has anything to offer, and it’s better for them to buy other things. That’s fine, but I highly doubt the Cardinal feels that way, and so his point doesn’t really hold up.
On the egomaniac and the ring:
I read recently that the whole engagement ring was designed in the last century to be a means of compensation for the women if she got pregnant before marriage. So as long as she continued to “date” him she is merely optimizing his investment so he should be happy with her decision to sell the ring. I don’t recall the article mentioning this: the ring can also signify that the woman is taken so she has to at least pretend to “date” him exclusively.
p.s. I second Prof. Henderson’s analysis of Murphy/Landsburg discussions.
Clearly an obsolete tradition in the age of reliable cheap contraception, if that’s even true at all.
Selling the ring is either an incredible faux pas or a deliberate insult to punctuate a break up with symbolism. If you sell it and stay together, it’s presumably because of dire need, but something that I believe, as a matter of tradition, would require the couple to discuss it together first to not constitute something of a breach of informal contract.
Well, I say “breach of contract” but that’s not quite what it is. Again, it’s more a faux pas than anything.
Also, I third that analysis.
Engagement ring (of course, consider the source). The article I referenced above had a stronger economic perspective, including a good correlation analysis with deBoer’s marketing:
Traditions are nebulous things, easily created in a single generation and just as easily mutating, even without modern marketing (equally true for many religious traditions).
Pretty frustrating how Landsburg and Ken_B. can’t get the basic point. I hope I don’t sound like that to people when advocating “economist” solutions.
I don’t think Steve is likely to change his views on this, because he’s been making this point, that you should only help the poor by giving them money (or in this case giving them something tradeable for money), for years. In fact, the thing that first got him on the political spotlight was his Slate column “Do the poor deserve life support?” where he argued that keeping the poor on life support isn’t really being generous to them, because “there is nothing particularly compassionate about giving ventilator insurance to a person who really feels a more urgent need for milk or eggs.”:
I think Steve’s utilitarian views are leading him to conclusions that most people would completely disagree with.
Keshav I’ll answer you here, since I don’t want to be obnoxious at Steve’s blog:
You were explaining his views to me as something like, “Bob, Steve is merely saying that they are choosing an ineffective way to help the poor. If they really want to help them, they would…”
But look again at Steve’s post. He didn’t say, “Yes, giving the people who signed up for the lottery a free ticket is a nice gesture that makes them better off, and involves an opportunity cost to the Church to boot, but let me show how they could have been even *more* altruistic…”
^^ If Steve had said that, I’m pretty sure I just would’ve done a Potpourri link and said “A good post from Steve Landsburg on thinking through the logic of market allocation.”
But no, he said that if the Pope endorsed the Cardinal’s statement it implied that the Pope was an egomaniac, and that the Cardinal would rather see poor people cheering the Pope rather than helping them.
So, that’s why I said that besides being inflammatory and way too harsh, I thought it didn’t even make sense. If the Pope/Cardinal are egomaniacs who just want big cheering crowds and don’t care about the desires for food, medicine, etc. among the poor, why wouldn’t they still let the tickets go to the highest bidders? Either way, the event will sell out, but with auctioning, it will be filled with the people who were willing to pay most for the ticket. So that’s why I said Steve’s attribution of sinister motives–if tongue in cheek, just to say “this is the logical implication of the Cardinal’s statement”–went a lot deeper than even he realized. Which makes us think, “OK this is probably not the right way to analyze what happened.”
“So that’s why I said Steve’s attribution of sinister motives–if tongue in cheek, just to say “this is the logical implication of the Cardinal’s statement”–went a lot deeper than even he realized. Which makes us think, “OK this is probably not the right way to analyze what happened.”” Actually, I think you just summed up what Steve is doing perfectly: “tongue in cheek, just to say “this is the logical implication of the Cardinal’s statement””. He’s not really trying to find the most plausible motivation for the Church’s actions. He just has an obnoxious style where he says “if you really believe this, then you’re a horrible person” as a way of showing the problems with the person’s view.
In his “Do the poor deserve life support?” column, do you really think that he believes that liberals don’t have compassion for the poor? Of course not; if they really believed that then they wouldn’t care if some poor person dies without life support. He’s just trying to say “what compassion for the poor really dictates is this”. He’s doing the same thing here.
Typo: I mean to say “If they really *didn’t have compassion* then they wouldn’t care…”
Or to take an example from Steve’s books (I think his book “Fair Play”), does Steve really think John Edwards has no concern for people on third-world countries? Of course not; then John Edwards would be in favor of abolishing foreign aid. Steve is just saying “Telling people to Buy American means you have no concern for third world countries” as a way of saying “Concern for third world countries really dictates this.” For better or worse, that’s just Steve’s style.
The quote from Dolan that Landsberg posted is insufficient for making the conclusion that Landsberg made.
All we know from the quote is that Dolan is upset that the tickets are being resold. Nothing here about WHY he is upset.
At any rate, this case I think is pretty simple. If the church intended the initial receivers of the tickets to be composed in part by those of “modest means”, due the randomness of the initial distribution, then should there be reselling going on, i.e. “scalping”, then the only way the final group of ticket holders can become composed of people who are more wealthy, is if the initial ticket holders who sold their tickets were poorer than the final group. In other words those poorer people found that the money to tell the tickets was worth more to them than seeing the Pope. Actually, to be more accurate, those poor people found what that money can buy to be more valuable.
For those initial ticket holders who are poor but did not resell, well then they get to see the Pope!
Those people who the Church targeted to see the Pope, who were “selected” randomly, that group gets what they want no matter what reselling goes on. No poor person who was randomly selected is forced to sell their ticket.
If I had to speculate on why Dolan is upset, I think it is because there are poor people who value what the resell money can buy MORE than they value seeing the Pope. Well yes, if “everything the Church stands for” consists of “sacrifice your happiness for us and our vanity”, then yeah, that might make such egomaniacs upset.
If my speculation is right, then Steve’s conclusion is right as well.
“If the church intended the initial receivers of the tickets to be composed in part by those of “modest means”, due the randomness of the initial distribution, then should there be reselling going on, i.e. “scalping”, then the only way the final group of ticket holders can become composed of people who are more wealthy, is if the initial ticket holders who sold their tickets were poorer than the final group.” No, that’s not the only way. The other possibility is that rich people who have no interest in seeing the Pope sign up solely for the purpose of selling the tickets, and then sell the tickets to other rich people who do want to see him.
That situation would give rich people a higher chance of seeing the Pope than poor people, and I think that’s what Dolan is trying to avoid.
“The other possibility is that rich people who have no interest in seeing the Pope sign up solely for the purpose of selling the tickets, and then sell the tickets to other rich people who do want to see him.”
OK yes that is possible, if we split rich into rich and really rich. That doesn’t reduce or increase the tickets held by the poor. You’re talking about a swap of rich to more rich. I was following Dolan’s usage of “modest” as against, well, “not modest”. Two groups. Technically it is a spectrum for sure.
“That situation would give rich people a higher chance of seeing the Pope than poor people, and I think that’s what Dolan is trying to avoid.”
But the poor would still have their tickets in that scenario.
“OK yes that is possible, if we split rich into rich and really rich. That doesn’t reduce or increase the tickets held by the poor. You’re talking about a swap of rich to more rich. I was following Dolan’s usage of “modest” as against, well, “not modest”. Two groups. Technically it is a spectrum for sure.” Major_Freedom, I’m also assuming only two levels of wealth. I’m saying rich people who don’t want to see the pope will sign up to get tickets so that they can sell it to equally rich people who do want to see the pope. That will decrease poor people’s chances of getting tickets.
Let me give you a numerical example. Suppose that there are 300 tickets available, 500 rich people who want them, and 500 poor people who want them. Then if scalping was impossible, then on average 150 rich people would see the pope and 150 poor people would see the pope.
Now assume scalping is possible, and another 500 rich people who have no interest in seeing the pope sign up for the purpose of scalping. Then on average 100 tickets would go to the rich people who want to see the Pope, 100 tickets would go to the poor people who want to see the Pope, and 100 tickets would go to to the scalpers. The scalpers would then sell the tickets to rich people who want to see the pope, so that you’d end up with 200 rich people seeing the pope compared to only 100 poor people.
So the number of tickets going to the poor, and thus the probability of a poor person getting to see the Pope, is definitely hurt by the existence of scalping.
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