Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Good Night And Good Luck

We hope that the anonymous commenter who wanted more proof of Matthew Yglesias' mediocrity is satisfied and will accept the evidence already given, for we do not have the intestinal fortitude to cover both Yglesias and McArdle on a routine basis. For example:

Since putting a fire out is much cheaper at the margin than rebuilding a burned-down house, it should be easy to set a pricing scheme that doesn’t entail any substantial adverse selection issues.

I think there’s a surprising amount of inefficiency in the world deriving from the fact that people with various competencies—fighting fires, organizing rock concerts, cooking tasty food—don’t really understand optimal pricing.

What are you supposed to do with someone who looks upon humanity as a noble experiment in elite governance, where the lower classes are lucky beneficiaries of the wisdom, forethought and hard work of the ruling class? We're supposed to sit here and watch him ruminate on how much money firefighters should screw out of the public?

Life's too short to watch Matthew Yglesias play God of the Ant Farm with the rest of humanity.


aimai said...

Darn those coal miners for "not understanding optimal pricing!" I'm sure if they could have just known how to graph things better they would totally have overcome the pinkerton guns and the union busting of the bosses.


Unknown said...

He is talking about a town that extorts $75.00 per household for fighting fires. The burning house didn't pay the fee, thus was allowed to burn down, free of charge so to speak. How Yglesias got to whatever bullshit he spewed after that is beyond me. I quit reading him when 5 months back he agreed with catfood commission when they detailed their plan to gut social security to reduce the deficit, and Yglesias thought that was very reasonable.

Downpuppy said...

Matt's 1st 5 comments are fabulous:

Joel says:
October 3rd, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I think its interesting that you’re interpreting what’s pretty clearly a moral failure on the part of the firefighters and the mayor in purely economic terms.
# Paulie Carbone says:
October 3rd, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I think there’s a surprising amount of inefficiency in the world deriving from the fact that people with various competencies—fighting fires, organizing rock concerts, cooking tasty food—don’t really understand optimal pricing.

I think a lot of apparent inefficiency in the world derives from smartass glibertarians who think they understand optimal pricing better than people with actual competencies in their fields.
# Freddie says:
October 3rd, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I think this post is just fucking with us. I really do.

James Gary says:
October 3rd, 2010 at 12:56 pm

people with various competencies—fighting fires, organizing rock concerts, cooking tasty food—don’t really understand optimal pricing.

I don’t see how “optimal pricing” enters into this. The city of South Fulton doesn’t have to pay to rebuild burned-down houses. In fact, it actually benefits them to let a few houses burn as an example to homeowners who won’t pony up the protection money.
# Paulie Carbone says:
October 3rd, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I think this post is just fucking with us.

Most of Matt’s posts these days are just passive-aggressive ways of trolling his disillusioned readership. His last six months of blogging have been an elaborate, pro-wrestling style face-heel turn.

They're on to him.

SamInMpls said...

So, Matt thinks that optimal pricing is a concept misunderstood by the general public?

Susan and Aimai meanwhile seem to be taking the position that optimal pricing is not relevant to the VERY SERIOUS problems of "Regular Folk" that VERY SERIOUS villagers like Matt obsess over while looking down the rest of us?

"Joe Sixpack" doesn't understand how Stub Hub works or how it benefits him when he can't use his Packers tickets?

Neither of you come across to me in any way as being less disconnected from "Regular Folk" than Matt.

Feel free to keep savaging each other. Its like the first half of a Mel Brooks film with the funny missing.

Susan of Texas said...

This isn't a contest to see who is more down to earth. Yglesias isn't a very deep thinker. I pointed that out. That's pretty much it.

Lamar57 said...

Yglesias suffers from the all-too-common affliction of an ethical system informed solely by the (oft) arbitrary assignation of a dollar value to any and all human interactions/endeavors. He is, as Susan notes, not a very deep thinker.

Morbo said...

Dear Matt,

Dean Baker called.
He says there's an Indian PhD who has mastered your style and doesn't make all of the annoying typing mistakes because he edits his writing. The Indian will do your job for $1000 per year.
What's the number for the HR manager at ThinkProgress?

fish said...

My favorite MattY is still: "Why do we need a department of agriculture?"

He is so wrapped up in his smug, libertarianesque analysis of economic efficiencies, it doesn't dawn on him that it just might be in the best interest of a country to secure its food supply, even if it fucks up his BFF the free market.

aimai said...

I think that optimal pricing is a theory about how pricing should/will move markets or goods and services. I don't think its the right way to understand any system which is not a totally free market--that is, a system in the real world in which various actors have various levels of political, military, social, and legal abilities to enforce their right of ownership, or their right to own their own labor, or to purchase goods and services in such quantities that economies of scale take over and prevent competition with providers.

And example of that would be such things as policing and fire-fighting. Policing, definitely as an aspect of the state excludes other possibly cheaper or more expensive ways of policing the community. That's what the lawful part of it refers to. It might be cheaper for the state for everyone to self police--lots of pre-state societies do it that way--but pricing isn't the issue driving the decision. Ditto firefighting for a different reason: economies of scale and the danger of partial coverage militate against permitting private coverage to push out public coverage, or public coverage to be non inclusive. Societies have experimented with doing it differently: Crassus of Republican Rome made part of his fortune with his private fire fighting companies. One of their tricks was to refuse to fight the fire until the owner signed the property over to them at a cheap rate--still worth it because the property maintained some value up until the moment it was totally destroyed.

The thing that bugs me about Matt--though its not really fair of me to say it since I don't read him for this reason--is that its all gedankenexperiment until someone gets hurt. Its important to remember, though, that Matt probably doesn't take onto himself any responsibility for anything bigger than being part of the chattering classes. I think he probably sees himself as merely part of a larger conversation, with all the lack of urgency that implies.


Clever Pseudonym said...

How is it inefficient to have the guy good at cooking tasty food cook tasty food and the guy with a head for business, like a restaurant manager, worry about optimal pricing? Likewise, it's probably best that the guy with the training to fight fires doesn't make his decisions based on whether or not they're going to hurt the firehouse's bottom line.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that Yglesias's blog is one long performance piece perpetrated by CAP to illustrate that there is no meritocracy in America. Well done, but we already have the NYT wedding announcements to make that point.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and may I add, this blog is totally awesome!

D Johnston said...

The comments over there are a mixed bag - most of those defending Yggie are playing devil's advocate, but a few of them seem really into it. One commenter notes that the neolib cost/benefit thing neglects to account for items that have little actual value but substantial sentimental value, such as baby pictures. These would obviously be irreplaceable if lost in a fire. A few posts later, a charming prick named Reilly chimes in:

Just because something can’t be replaced doesn’t mean that a price can’t be estimated. Ask the homeowner how much money they would part with the photos for.

I quit humanity.

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