02 Nov 2009

Faux Economic Profundities

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There are a lot of faux economic profundities floating around. I don’t remember who said this one–I’m thinking I read it in a Landsburg book in Barnes & Noble, but I could be wrong–but I have in mind assertions like this:

If you never miss a flight, you spend too much time in airports.

Wow, that’s heavy Ogre.

Is it too cute if I just say, “Prove it”? What if I make some comparable assertions instead? Will that give my complaint more oomph?

* If you never get audited, you’re reporting too much income.

* If you never get hit by a bus, you’re waiting too long to enter crosswalks.

* If you never experience an unwanted pregnancy, you’re spending too much on condoms.

Shall I continue, or do you get the idea? Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole economist pop book genre. It’s the first thing I check out when I’m browsing in a book store. But a lot of the deep thoughts you get there, consist in taking a neoclassical model, assuming away the real-world considerations that motivate actual people, and then declaring that the optimizing agent in the model outperforms the morons reading the book.

Want more? Try this and this.

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