And you thought I learned nothing in Econ…

Instead of paying attention during Econ today, Shari and I were both thinking about stuff in our lives that are stressing us.

Usually, we get stressed at different times.

But today, we were both pretty low.

I felt bad for not paying attention in class, so I discussed my feelings with Shari in economic terms:

If this is in any way economically wrong, I’m sorry. I obviously have not been paying complete attention.

And if there was any confusion, Ft+1 = tomorrow and Ft = today.


19 thoughts on “And you thought I learned nothing in Econ…

  1. It’s completely wrong.

    It implies that Shari is a supply curve, and you are a demand curve. That means that she provides the happiness and you consume the happiness. So it makes you dependent on her for all happiness.

    Also, I think happiness is an infinitely inelastic good.

    I’d be willing to bet that in reality, you are two competing consumers for a supply of happiness. The supply curve might change each day, if you think that Ft+1 is happier than Ft. But you and Shari represent two different Demand curves, each offering a specific price per unit quantity each day. It might look something like this:

    | \ \ /
    | \ \/________Equilibrium 2
    P| \/\________Equilibrium 1
    | /\ \
    | / \ \
    | S D1 D2

    So, let’s say that one day, you’re demand schedule is near D2. You’re willing to pay more than Shari, who is near D1, per unit quantity of Happiness. The market will naturally shift the equilibrium to you, and you will reap happiness, while Shari will not.

    However, neither Demand curve is actually linear, because once you get some happiness, you’re willing to pay less for more happiness. Depending on the amount of the marginal diminish, the maket will sell some happiness to Shari, because after you have purchased a certain amount, she is now willing to pay more than you are (because your offer price dropped.) The market will then sell to accommodate her needs, until her quantity becomes enough that her price is no longer acceptable, and someone else will take over.

    So after reading what I wrote, I’ve basically determined that happiness is entirely dependent upon the amount (of work toward being happy) that you are willing to pay. If you put in more work to be happy, the market will shift equilibrium awarding you with more happiness. If you put in less, you will have to wait in line.


  2. lia! i took macro and i didnt understand nathans explination. haha how little attention i payed! youre graphs are quite pretty. i give you an A+ (now if only my profs graded like that)

  3. your thoughtful response is clever, economically informed, and i have no doubt well-intended, but misguided in several respects.

    while it is quite possible that happiness is a perfectly inelastic good, we must recognize that this remains an assumption until it is verified with econometric data. i take both certain common-sense and certain philosophical notions regarding the relation between money and happiness to be indicative of general disagreement concerning the elasticity of the demand curve for happiness, i.e., this verification. i will examine common sense notions as expressed in everyday language first, then parenthetically examine a more precise methodology, then proceed to consider lia’s and shari’s reasoning behind their beliefs, and gradually move toward finally considering philosophical notions regarding happiness.

    firstly, the colloquial language we use to describe the relation of happiness to prosperity suggests the existence of mass cultural experiential evidence supporting both conclusions (that happiness is an elastic good, and that it is not): “money buys happiness,” “money cannot buy happiness,” “money can buy love” (which i think we can agree acts in most cases as a proxy variable for happiness), and finally, “say you don’t need no diamond ring/ and i’ll be satisfied/ tell me that you want those kind of things/ that money just can’t buy/ for i don’t care too much for money/ for money can’t buy me love.” the common-sense consensus seems to be that “money buys some happiness,” meaning that happiness is neither perfectly nor imperfectly elastic, and that there exits a positive correlation between wealth and happiness though many other factors are at play. while this evidence is nonscientific and thus not rigorous, i personally find this conclusion rather hard to dispute.

    (in more precise language: to really reach a conclusion, we need to run a regressive or correlational analysis on a data set of the general form (q,p) empirically inducted from incidents of money assisting individuals in attaining happiness, and push the resulting linear equation through the expression abs[d ln x / d ln y], where d is a derivative of y with respect to x, x is the quantity of happiness purchased, and y is the market price it fetches on the demand side; if the output of the expression approaches infinity, happiness is a perfectly inelastic good [money can’t buy me love, and our correlative framework is misguided as a variable other than price has some effect]; if it approaches zero, happiness is a perfectly elastic good [money buys infinite happiness]; if we get some rational number [or, conceivably, in irrational one, though i can’t confirm or deny this possibility as i am not a very adept mathematician] greater than one, happiness is elastic [money buys lots of happiness]; if we get some number less than one, happiness is inelastic [money buys some but not much happiness].)

  4. even within the limited framework of economics, lia’s model does not necessarily have to be read as a supply-demand analysis. the named variables in her system bear little relation to price and quantity, the token indicators of classical, keynsian, neo-keynsian, mainstream, and generally of non-marxist non-green frameworks for economic thought. even within these frameworks, there are other types of graphs with other named variables (production possibility curves, for one), casting further doubt on your assumption that lia attempts to provide an analysis of her and shari’s happiness using the concepts of supply and demand.

    i am of the opinion that lia’s and shari’s problem is non-economic, though they frame it humorously in economic terms. it seems to me that a number of phenomena might be responsible for their arguably spurious ideas concerning the inverse relationship between her happiness and shari’s happiness. i make this case because it seems absurd and non-parsimonious to think that lia and shari actually compete for some quantity of happiness to be found in the realm of objects, i.e, of sensible things; i want to know what could cause them to think this.

    the first is something like psychology’s confirmation bias, in which individuals tend to keep observations that confirm their opinions and disregard observations that are contrary to them. perhaps lia and shari, for reasons unknown, are predisposed toward perceiving an antipathy between the respective quantities of happiness in their lives. thus, as they are human being subject to what pure reason calls human failings, they might only notice the apparent relationship between their mental states on days when one is happy and the other is not, and unintentionally ignore days when they are both happy. that there is some relationship, we cannot be sure of, as the experimental methods lia and shari employ may not be the most objectively valid of methods.

    the second involves considerations of a more philosophical nature, and claims that the very fact that lia and shari think this mean very little. suppose for a moment that lia and shari are not subject to confirmation bias or predisposition; that is, suppose that they are fictional beings with god-like powers of rational computation who further have total knowledge of the physical universe. in such a state, lia and shari have unrestrained cognitive access to a perfect data set regarding their happiness over time, and if they are correct about supposing there to be an inverse relationship between the quantity of happiness in each of their respective lives, then they ought to be able to clearly and distinctly perceive a correlation in the data set much as our econometric analysis as described above would come to the same conclusion. but, in the minds of supergirls and economists, all we ever get are correlations. we can never be sure that lia’s happiness causes shari’s unhappiness, no matter how often we see the two descriptive events occur simultaneously. whether this reflects an attribute of the universe or merely certain fallacies of representation in our use of language is a question largely up for grabs in contemporary anglophone philosophy, which is to say that your use of the phrase “in reality” carries a tremendous amount of possibly questionable intellectual baggage. that there are ways out of this trap, we know; whether we are convinced of them is another matter that also deserves a longer investigation. cf. hume and kant, among many others.

  5. finally, regarding rigorous non-common-sensical and non-empirical answers to questions concerning money and happiness: a full examination of philosophical notions concerning the relation between money and happiness specifically, material prosperity and happiness generally, and happiness with a view on human nature meta-generally is beyond the scope of this inquiry and deserving of a full investigation by a better pen than mine. suffice to say: cf. lao-tze, gautama buddha, euripides, socrates, plato, aristophanes, aristotle, jesus, spinoza, durkheim, hegel, marx, tolstoi, dostoyevsky, thoreau, emerson, mill, james, nietzsche, joyce, mckeon, strauss, rorty, and countless others that have been published in the major journals (you know: the code of hammaburi, the library of alexandria, the bible, the vedantic texts, the norton anthologies of literature and poetry, etc.) between the beginning of recorded history and the present.

    lia may or may not misunderstand the economic principles delivered in lecture, which in turn may or may not have influenced her original work. this language of “influence” and “understanding” is perhaps better suited the task at hand, because lia’s work is more art than economic theory insofar as she delivers it to the end of conveying her dislike for economics as a discipline, parodying the inapplicability of economic thought to genuinely human problems, and communicating her present emotional state

    as for that present emotional state: whether she is aware of it or not, the nature of lia’s art tells us something about what she thinks of the entire idea of solving human problems with masochistic rationalism. if you are still unconvinced of the tactlessness of such approaches toward the nature of human problems, examine the utter irrelevance, insensitivity, and masturbatory tendencies of the satirical critique you are presently reading, and by proxy the same shameless exhibitionism of intellectual insecurity to be found in the object of its satire.

    if you are offended, please don’t be. consider this a cathartic nod of the head from an elder itinerant rambler in the cognitive wilderness to a younger, coupled with a tripartite warning whose first part is most relevant to the case at hand: (1) always match the tool to the job; (2) keep your ego in check and sticks out of your ass; (3) and remember that there is always, always, always, always, always more to learn.

    good day.


    p.s. lia, hope everything goes well.

  6. apparently, you also didn’t understand how to spell the word “explanation.” or “your.” or “paid.” but, hey, it’s only grammar, right?

  7. I merely skimmed the above posts as they seemed rather tedious to read, so if I repeat or summarize them in the short post here, that means that I was significantly more succinct in my presentation.

    You can’t quantify happiness, since doing so requires an interval scale and an ability to measure happiness. More importantly, “happiness is not a fish you can catch.” Or so says Our Lady Peace.

  8. Haha, I have to say that that was very clever and very well put.

    I enjoyed reading it, and I look forward to reading parts 2 and 3, which I shall do so shortly.

  9. I have to say I agree with explanation 1. Explanation 2 is well put, but very obvious. In statistical terms, two independent events are still bound by the universal probability of one. Although they only can fluctuate accordingly if they are mutually-exclusive, there is also a possibility of mutual-causality or non-causality in a non-mutually-exclusive world. (Example: It is raining; I have an umbrella. These are two independent events. In my life, they tend to be mutually-exclusive, but that comes from poor planning. In other lives, they are entirely causal (I only have an umbrella when it’s raining) and still other times it’s somewhere between.)

    Additionally, I also thought of a PPF curve, but figured that since she drew it like a S/D schedule curve, I would analyze it as such.

  10. Wait, what was the reason you needed to be rude?

    I mean, a little misspellings happen – sure, none of us like it, but c’est la vie.

    Don’t get too angry.

  11. Way to be classy and sign anonymous.

    In the end, I have to say that you are the one with a so-called “stick up your ass.”

    As for reference, I highly suggest you read Prof. Emeritus Harry G. Frankfort’s “On Bullshit.”

    You exemplify his thesis.

  12. Nathan! Don’t be mean to my friends. Though this person didn’t sign his name, I know who he is anyway.

  13. Okay, people. Some ground rules.

    1) I love it when you respond to each other’s comments, but please don’t be mean to each other. You don’t know this, but all of you are very nice people, and no one deserves to be made fun of for spelling or opinions.

    2) Please don’t post anonymously if you don’t have to. I’d love to thank you for your comments, but I can’t when I don’t know where to direct my comments. If you don’t have a Livejournal account, just sign your name. Thank you.

    3) I feel like I had a third rule earlier today, but I forgot it already.

    Thanks for reading, and keep commenting.

  14. I was responding to the last part of his comment.

    Up until that point, I took it in good humor, and laughed when appropriate.

    Then it became malicious. I didn’t find that appropriate.

  15. MAYBE if you would have taken my micro and macro econ tests for me , I wouldnt have gotten 2 matching one’s!!

  16. Lia — Your father pointed me to your blog. I would have thought that you would have expressed it differently–as two interdependent utility functions. Each of you gets utility from your own consumption and from your friend’s utility. I hope your friend’s utility enters positively in your utility function–if it entered negatively I would hardly call the other person a friend. It may seem that when one is up the other is down. But perhaps when one sees a friend down one expends resources ( time ) to cheer up the down person. So, a third argument in your utility function is “friends time to cheer you up”. There is of course the budget constraint–money resources and time. Time is a vary important resource, but my experience has been that many students do not fully appreciate the high value of their time, especially in learning in the classroom and in their studies outside the classroom ( eg, homework, writing papers, preparing for exams, etc. ). I hope this is helpful. BC from BHCBE

  17. lia: nathan is correct to be offended by my flippancy and maliciousness, as in this respect i am quite guilty as charged. as is well-documented elsewhere, i am a generally knavish no-account. but, any observations i may have made regarding the effects of nathan’s particular species of commentary on the readership of this forum are entirely descriptive as opposed to normative, insofar as they too are well-documented elsewhere. furthermore, i might contend that propriety is in the eye of the beholder.

    nathan: perhaps i poorly articulated part of my point. frankfort’s thesis by its very nature applies differently to pure rhetoric and to satire: the former is discursive expository prose that occasionally has no regard for truth, while the latter self-consciously disregards truth to some ulterior end. consider how my commentary might be categorized as such, and how this affects your suggestion concerning reference…

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