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September 30, 2010


I find it interesting that it is okay to keep found property but not money. In the example given, the ipod is worth anywhere from 130-250, so it is like pocketing that amount of money. Plus, there is a lot of effort getting the music one wants into it (it doesn't self-populate itself), so it has cost a lot of time on top of the money.

I must have missed something (obviously, since I haven't made the effort to read the book).

TypePad lied - it said that it had saved my comment to Bogie's comment. Let's see if I can re-create it.

Bogie--I, too, was intrigued by the apparent contradiction. I'll add another Q&A to illuminate Mr L's thinking.

"HUH? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? I'm assuming in both cases that you have no idea how to locate the rightful owner, [This is a critically important simplifying assumption! CC] and if you don't claim these items, nobody else will. (Maybe they're about to be washed away by a thunderstorm.) [I assume it is the items that are about to be washed away by a thuderstorm, rather than the other people. CC]

"Here's the difference: If you pick up the iPod, you gain an iPod and nobody else loses anything. [I assume that he means that, with the simplifying assumption in mind, the loser of the iPod has lost the iPod and that whether you pick it up or not does not affect how much the loser loses. CC] That's a clear net gain for society. [I agree, it is better that someone use the iPod than that it be swept away by the thunderstorm. CC] But if you pick up the $100 bill, you're eventually going to spend it, which is going to drive up prices, which is going to cost the rest of us exactly $100, just as if you'd counterfeited. [Mr L makes clear in a previous chapter that prices would be driven up by an infinitesimal amount, but felt by millions of people. CC] The final accounting: You gain about $99.98 ($100 minus about two cents' worth of effort bending over to pick up the bill); the rest of us lose $100. Your two cents' worth of effort is wasted. That's social destruction. Not a lot of social destruction, but social destruction nonetheless."

Mr L then goes on to admit that he would, indeed, pick up the $100 bill. In all, I can nit-pick his modeling just as anyone in aerospace may have nit-picked my modeling of airplanes in determining the loads and/or stresses on each little part of an airplane. (I modeled down to the one-eighth inch in critical areas, but stopped at that size only out of consideration for the computer time it would take for me to run hundreds of external conditions against my model. My models were rife with simplifying assumptions!) However, Mr L is entitled to work with his own models, and I assume that he is smart enough to change them when he finds them lacking in important ways.


Let's see, I spend the 100 dollars at the gorcery store, feed my family for a week and donate some of the canned goods to charity. Plus, that $100 pays the salary of the checkout clerk for the day. The clerk isn't on unemploymnet, so the rest of us have to pay not only the clerk, but everyone who works at the unemployment agency.

Sorry, I got nit-picky. Guess there's a reason I don't read those types of books.

Alright, I'll shut up now :)

Argggh, I messsed that up entirely!

Should have been:

The clerk isn't on unemploymnet. Otherwise the rest of us have to pay not only the clerk, but everyone who works at the unemployment agency (who don't "produce" anything so are just a drag on society - they could be producing something useful instead).

Alright, this is getting way too serious, now I will step away from the microphone and shut up :)

OMG! If you wanted a serious discussion, you came to the wrong blog. ; )

I find the IPod vs. money argument convoluted. In either case I would try to find the owner. I doubt that he could convince me that by lowering the cost of medical care you could not provide more care for more people. It depends on how you lower the cost. There is a difference between lowering the quality and lowering the cost. If you lower the cost without affecting the quality you would have more money to treat more people.

I don't think this is a book I will peruse.

Darlene--I've returned the book to the library; but, as I recall, Mr L argued that the supply of health care professionsals would be the limiting factor in being able to provide service to more people. He didn't (I don't recall his doing it, at least) make the argument that lower cost of medical care would translate into lower payment for doctors, nurses, aides, etc, which would mean that fewer people would become health care professionals. That would be one argument in support of his position, however.

Ah, we each choose our own books to spend our time on. I felt that the thinking that the book enticed me into doing was worth the time that I spent reading the book. I argued many positions along the way, for sure!

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