Economics and Happiness
Bluematter thinks learning economics has made him happier:
1. I cherish my consumer surplus. I value most of the stuff I buy way more than what I have to pay for them; vanilla ice cream makes me happy beyond belief, and the same is true for the music of Dream Theater and the (soon to be purchased) Apple iphone. And what am I asked to pay for them? Peanuts.
2. I cherish my producer surplus. I am getting paid way, way more than the salary that would make me indifferent between supplying labour and staying at home.
3. I never have regrets: I did the best I could given the information available to me at the time. Judging I could have done better using information I acquired at a later date makes as much sense as regretting the existence of gravity. On a related topic, I understand the irrelevance of sunk costs.
4. While I do care for my welfare in relative terms, my welfare in absolute terms looms large in my utility function – and, boy, look how its value has been growing.
5. The selfishness of my fellow human beings does not make me anxious or depressed. Adam Smith (or was it Mandeville?) taught me that humans, selfish as they are, can make happy societies. And perhaps more to the point, they can make me happy.
And from the comments on Marginal Revolution:
I am fairly confident that I would be significantly happier if I had never switched my major to economics in college. I certainly would be more ignorant if I had opted to stay with government, but at least it would have been a blissful ignorance.
Perhaps my sentiment is related to having gone to Mason where a strong emphasis is placed on destroying your soul. Well, not really. However, an econ course load at Mason does place heavy emphasis on and open your eyes to the fact that politicians are no less corruptible than anyone else (and probably more so), voters prefer terrible policies (and far too often act on those preferences) and government does more harm than good (especially when it makes a big show about how much they are helping) all of which (and so many more examples exist) are a tremendous departure from the life-view a public school education creates.
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