25 Mar 2010

Crazy Economists

Economics 6 Comments

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone into the wrong line of work. Maybe I should’ve stuck to theoretical physics back when I thought Richard Feynman was the coolest guy ever.

Mario Rizzo blogs about not tipping NYC cab drivers. I actually think tipping is a good custom. However, I think we should cut Mario some slack, since he’s talking about NYC cab drivers. (It would be like someone saying he hates dogs, and you say, “But they’re so cute and cuddly-wuddly!” and you find out he was attacked by Cujo.)

Brad DeLong politely objects to Mario, in a manner we’ve come to expect from the man concerned with social decorum.

In the comments to DeLong’s post, somebody links to this Steve Landsburg blog post, “In Praise of Genocide.” Now I know, I know, you’re thinking, “OK, that’s just a provocative title to get page views. Surely Landsburg isn’t going to talk about what the post title sounds like. He must be talking about playing Risk or something with his buddies, and ha ha he is ‘praising genocide’ because he kicked butt.”

I wish it were so. Landsburg is actually talking about genocide. Here’s an excerpt: “And likewise I prefer the mass murderer who wipes out an extended “family” of five million to the one who kills, say, four and a half million at random. Taking the death and destruction as given, sowing less misery earns you a little slack.”

6 Responses to “Crazy Economists”

  1. Evan says:

    Landsburg: “I’m not sure why the adjective “genocidal” is so often taken to be pejorative”

    Think harder, Steve.

  2. Ash says:

    Spell it out for me here: is DeLong saying that Rizzo is a socio-psychopath because he’s not honouring an implicit contract of tipping a cab driver?

    I’m from Canada, where tipping for a lot of things is also pretty customary. But I’d never thought I’d see the day where someone is accused of being a theiving, cheating, liar for not tipping a cabby. That’s why I found the comments on DeLong’s post shocking–is this really how people think of people who don’t tip in the US?

  3. bobmurphy says:


    Yes that’s what DeLong is saying, and no that is not “how people think of people who don’t tip in the US.” I think most people would say Rizzo is a cheapskate.

  4. Brian N. says:

    Given the sheer number of times that DeLong has to bend over backwards to see bad things about people he doesn’t like by misconstruing their words to mean something they manifestly do not – in this case saying something flatly different from what Rizzo said – in order to feel self-righteous and insult them I can only accept the proposition that it is done on bad faith. The alternative is that simple written English is a form of communication as foreign to Brad DeLong as the straight answer is to Andy Vollmer.

  5. Lucas M. Engelhardt says:

    I actually commented on DeLong’s post. Shockingly, my comment was deleted. (That was sarcasm, just in case you missed it.)

    Basically, I was saying that people expecting a tip doesn’t constitute a contract. I mean, me expecting cards on my birthday doesn’t make anyone contractually obligated to send me one, and social convention isn’t enough to make this contract pop into existence either.