Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
I’ll let the New York Times guest-column speak for itself:
Arguably the most important finding from the emerging economics of happiness has been the Easterlin Paradox.
What is this paradox? It is the juxtaposition of three observations:
1) Within a society, rich people tend to be much happier than poor people.
2) But, rich societies tend not to be happier than poor societies (or not by much).
3) As countries get richer, they do not get happier.
Easterlin offered an appealing resolution to his paradox, arguing that only relative income matters to happiness. Other explanations suggest a “hedonic treadmill,” in which we must keep consuming more just to stay at the same level of happiness.
One criticism of the Easterlin report is that the data upon which it is based, comes mostly from survey responses and there is a psychological hobgoblin at work here because we don’t tend to think highly of ourselves when we admit we’re unhappy. So it stands to reason the responses are going to be skewed toward “oh yeah, I’m ecstatically happy.”
But another criticism I would have is that we have a societal taboo against acknowledging one of the possible — and I would label highly probable — outcomes: That money makes you happy. Let’s face it: Overly-simplistic as that may be, missing money when you need some really sucks!
But I think anyone pondering the situation for a minute or two would have to admit there has been, at least since the 1950’s or so, a swelling of pressure on people to presume out loud that wealth is only tangentially related, if it’s related at all, to a state of happiness. The pressure is sufficiently significant that it has an effect on people who have no personal experience at all, with being destitute & happy, or with having wealth in abundance and being dismal. And that’s my definition of significant pressure: When people are missing anecdotes within their personal experiences that would be needed to back something up, and will nevertheless sit there and say “oh yeah…uh huh, that’s right on.”
Well, the author of the column, Justin Wolfers, goes on to drop a bombshell:
Given the stakes in this debate, Betsey Stevenson and I thought it worth reassessing the evidence.
Last Thursday we presented our research at the latest Brookings Panel on Economic Activity, and we have arrived at a rather surprising conclusion:
There is no Easterlin Paradox.
The facts about income and happiness turn out to be much simpler than first realized:
1) Rich people are happier than poor people.
2) Richer countries are happier than poorer countries.
3) As countries get richer, they tend to get happier.
Moreover, each of these facts seems to suggest a roughly similar relationship between income and happiness.
Now, you can see from the reports and the cool graphics, that there is an abundance of data going in to these conclusions. So a disturbing question arises: Assuming this attack on the Easterlin paradox withstands scrutiny better than the paradox itself, are there some negative social ramifications involved in realizing this? Once it settles in that money does indeed make us happy isn’t there a risk that we’re all going to become a bunch of hair-pulling eye-gouging money grubbing zombies?
Well…to answer that we’d have to get into the debate about the “pie people”: Those who insist, like Michelle Obama, that when some among us have bigger pieces of pie then someone else must have smaller pieces, and in order to get more pie to those deprived persons it will be unavoidably necessary to confiscate pie from someone else. All transactions are zero-sum, in other words.
Seems to me, if you buy into that you have to agree there was at least a social benefit to the Easterlin paradox, even if it wasn’t true. And there must be a commensurately deleterious effect involved in repealing it.
I suppose, like the Easterlin paradox, the Pie Paradigm ought to be given a benefit of doubt, of sorts, so it can remain standing on clay feet across the generations without much supporting evidence. There must be a truth to it, and even if there isn’t, there must be a social benefit to believing it, and even if there isn’t, darn it it just feels so good to say it’s true.
Except, like Columbo, I can’t help noticing just one…little…thing.
So many of these Pie People, like Ms. Obama herself — are stinkin’ rich. What does that say about them, if they really do believe in the pies?
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