Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Steven Landsburg: Source of Wisdom

He holds a mathematics Ph.D. and works as a distinguished professor of economics, but these accomplishments pale next to Landsburg's greatest feat: Agreeing with and articulating the profound intuitions of My Freakwentness by writing irrefutably logical and compelling arguments on various commonly misconstrued topics.

Here Landsburg argues in favor of the pre-Christmas Ebeneezer Scrooge.

In this whole world, there is nobody more generous than the miser—the man who could deplete the world's resources but chooses not to. The only difference between miserliness and philanthropy is that the philanthropist serves a favored few while the miser spreads his largess far and wide.

If you build a house and refuse to buy a house, the rest of the world is one house richer. If you earn a dollar and refuse to spend a dollar, the rest of the world is one dollar richer—because you produced a dollar's worth of goods and didn't consume them.

The alert reader should recall at least two of My Freakwentness' greatest under-commented hits: Hit 1, and Hit 2.

Landsburg recently put the current housing fiasco in perspective. My Freakwentness already had this perspective, too, but gives credit to Landsburg for writing it down.

None of these foreclosed houses is going to disappear. After a foreclosure, one family moves out, and another moves in. We see the sad faces of the people moving out, but we don't as often see the happy faces of the new homeowners moving in. Nevertheless, those happy faces are out there, and we should not discount them.
If you get to live in a nice home for a few years and then lose it to foreclosure, you are not worse off than someone who never got to live in a nice home in the first place. If the Treasury Department is looking for ways to help people, it would be nice to focus on the people who are most in need of help [such as "... the struggling homeless? Or, for that matter, a child starving in Africa?].


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