Archive for July 19, 2011

Selling Your Kids Is Good Economics

July 19, 2011 12 comments

Following any idea without understanding the context is a recipe for disaster in any area of knowledge. However modern management and eCONomic bullshit routinely justifies stuff that is more extreme than the example used in this post.

It seems that a woman in Washington State tried to sell her 3-year old kid at Taco Bell for between 500-5000$.

A judge has set bail at $50,000 for a 36-year-old woman accused of trying to sell her 3-day-old baby at a Taco Bell restaurant in southwest Washington.Court papers say Heidi L. Knowles was arrested July 14 after a woman at the restaurant called police, saying she’d been offered the baby boy for a price between $500 and $5,000. Knowles was arrested for investigation of attempted child selling and on several outstanding warrants. Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis set bail Monday and appointed defense lawyer Gerry Wear to represent her. According to court documents the woman is unemployed, on welfare and food stamps and told investigators she was living at a motel until she could find a shelter. The Columbian says Child Protective Services took custody of the baby, born July 11.

While some of you may be aghast by her behavior, I can assure you that it was far closer to the Homo Economicus concept used by eCONomists of various stripes to model theoretical human behavior.

Homo economicus, or Economic human, is the concept in some economic theories of humans as rational and narrowly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgments toward their subjectively defined ends. This theory stands in contrast to the concept of Homo reciprocans, which states that human beings are primarily motivated by the desire to be cooperative, and improve their environment.

You may say.. How so???

You see, she was trying to convert a liability into an asset.

A child consumes resources (money, time, opportunity costs etc) for a chance of potential future gains (ego, old age security etc). However in our day and age, children are liabilities without an upside.

Money, on the other hand, is an asset. It is infact the most liquid and universal type of asset, which can be used or invested into other less liquid assets to provide an income stream. Moreover, it is almost free to store and retains value far better than other common types of assets.

Selling her kid for money was the most eCONomically rational thing to do for a woman in her circumstances. She wanted to convert her biggest liability into the most liquid class of assets.

While many of you might see her actions as inhumane, sociopathic or just plain nuts- she used the same rationale used by people who manage large and small businesses. I find it odd that we reward people who destroy the livelihoods and careers of thousands using the same eCONomic rationale which this poor woman used. Did I mention that she was financially distressed unlike the super-rich who do far worse than what she was intending to do.


Self Improvement Advice Is A Scam

July 19, 2011 26 comments

A bizarre obsession, somewhat peculiar to N.Americans, is the idea that self-improvement can help them magically change their lives for the better. While I do not deny that stopping overtly self-destructive behavior is a good idea, the vast majority of such advice is a victim blaming/shaming scam.

Let me explain with a few examples-

1. Financial planners and other wealth management- types want to advise you about saving/investing money. This is somehow supposed to help you ‘retire’ and live well in your ‘golden years’.

While I could write a few books about this particular strain of insanity, ask yourself a few questions-

How many of you earn enough to be able to save a worthwhile amount of money? Can you really cut your expenses to the extent that these scumbags suggest? How will that affect your current lifestyle? Can these cocksuckers promise that your investments will perform as predicted? Can they protect you from the effect of macro-economic phenomena like inflation, currency devaluation? Are your ‘golden years’ going to be golden?

Remember that these scumbags make money “managing” your investments whether you make or lose money on them.

2. You may have heard about people who will teach you how to pick up women.

Here is my question.. Other than non-neediness, some aggressiveness, a decent wardrobe and talking to lots of women- does anything else really help? Sure.. going to the gym might improve your physical condition, but shouldn’t you be doing that for yourself anyway?

Unless you are famous, very rich or infamous your conversion rate for women is going to be pretty low- like 5%. Now that is better than 0%, but still not quite what you have been implicitly promised. To put it another way, most advice on how to pick-up women is worthless and perpetuates a blame-the-victim mentality. What is the point in picking up women if the effort put into it does not justify the returns.

If you want sex with a hot chick, why not just buy it by the hour? Will any woman who looks down upon you escort use actually offer you sex? What about the guys who look down upon your escort use.. are they helping you get desirable women? If not, do their opinions matter?

3. You may have read books about how to lose weight.

How many of these books and speakers promote ideas based on counterproductive concepts like lowering fat intake, controlling calorie intake and exercising? Can you really reduce caloric and fat intake over a long period of time without ‘failing’ those diets and gaining more weight than you lost? Does exercise really help you lose weight? Ever considered that those diets are meant to be impractical and fail so that you can be blamed for the failure, rather than the now rich promoter of bullshit.

When is the last time you have seen low-fat/high carb eating cultures not get fat? Isn’t it odd that those who eat lots of meat and fat, in combination with low carb intake don’t put on weight easily. So why do so-called ‘experts’ keep on promoting what is objectively untrue?

4. Marriage and relationship advice is also a big scam.

Ask yourself.. If you require a series of ‘professionals’ to help you navigate a personal relationship- is that relationship even worth it? If you did not require ‘professional’ advice when you were dating and fucking that person in the beginning of the relationship, why now? What has changed? Has she become more beautiful, more desirable, more sexy, a better human being???

If not, then why are you trying to make things work? Since when did trying to save the rotting corpse of a relationship become a worthwhile endeavour? Even if you can save it for the time being, are you not putting more effort towards an inferior replica of the original? Is living like a slave in your own house worth it?

5. Health advice is scam ridden.

Hardly a day goes by without somebody publicizing some bullshit/fraudulent study that allegedly shows some correlation between something and your health. While obvious things such as poverty, heavy smoking, working in hazardous industries etc do have a negative impact on health- many others such as eating enough vegetables, fruits, coffee/tea intake and most supplements have no measurable impact in populations. That is not to say that all supplements are useless because some have a worthwhile effect (glucosamine, aspartate) and some vitamins (Vitamin D) do actually reduce incidence of certain diseases.

It is also worth remembering that most advice dispensed by doctors is meant to enrich them or promote their dogma rather than benefit the patient. What about antidepressants for mild reactive depression, antipsychotics for ‘hyperactive’ kids, cholesterol lowering drugs other than statins, prostate surgery for slow-growing prostate cancer in old men etc? In each case these worthless to harmful treatments make billions of dollars in profit.

The common theme running through all of the examples listed in this article can be summed up as-

Self-anointed ‘experts’ use their perceived authority to promote harmful or useless ideas with the intention of extracting rent from average people under the guise of helping them.