30 Nov 2012

Making Pete Leeson the Scapegoat for My Humor

Humor No Comments

I used to think Steve Landsburg’s “More Sex Is Safer Sex” essay was the perfect example of how Swift would mock neoclassical economics…except that Steve was serious. But now Pete Leeson leaves Steve in the dust:


This paper develops a theory of rational human sacrifice: the purchase and ritual
slaughter of innocent persons to appease divinities. I argue that human sacrifice is
a technology for protecting property rights. It improves property protection by destroying part of sacrificing communitiesíwealth, which depresses the expected payoff
of plundering them. Human sacrifice is a highly effective vehicle for destroying wealth
to protect property rights because itís an excellent public meter of wealth destruction. Human sacrifice is spectacular, publicly communicating a sacrificial destruction
far and wide. And immolating a live person is nearly impossible to fake, verifying
the amount of wealth a sacrificer has destroyed. To incentivize community members to
contribute wealth for destruction, human sacrifice is presented as a religious obligation.
To test my theory I investigate human sacrifice as practiced by the most significant
and well-known society of ritual immolators in the modern era: the Konds of Orissa,
India. Evidence from the Konds supports my theory’s predictions.

Someone sent this to me over email and said, “C’mon, somebody needs to blog about this, this is going too far.” I replied, “Wouldn’t it be more efficient just to kill him?”

Last thing: I am closing the comments on this, because although the above was too funny not to post, I don’t want to break the GMU/Auburn ceasefire accords brokered under Jimmy Carter back in 2010. Also, let me say that Pete Leeson and the late Fr. James Sadowsky were the only two people who really had me sweating when I presented my critique of the pure time preference theory of interest (once at GMU, once at NYU).

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