catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Market solutions

with 39 comments

Markets provide solutions to all sorts of problems. Satoshi Kanazawa raises the issue of compatibility inequality and wonders why nobody cares about this problem.

In the United States, millions of people – mostly, young, poor men, the same people who don’t have health insurance or choose not to take advantage of the available health care – are left mateless, sexless, and childless, and are destined to die as total reproductive losers. In every human society, there are more childless men than childless women.

How come nobody cares that millions of people in the United States fail to achieve the ultimate goal of all biological existence, the meaning of life itself? Why isn’t it the government’s job to make sure that every American has sex regularly and frequently and produces children? Why doesn’t the government import surplus women from Russia and Ukraine and distribute them at taxpayers’ expense to millions of young, poor men who can’t otherwise get laid?

We should be thankful. Maybe government isn’t as big as it could be.

One solution to this ‘problem’ is suggested by Eric Crampton – the deadweight losses of such a redistribution would be very large. Yes – that is true. Of course, before we started conscripting foreign women to the cause, we’d have to round up all those local women who remain, rather selfishly, deliberately barren and force them to marry and have kids. So you get the idea as to how large those deadweight losses are likely to be.

But there are two other points that need to be made. First, prostitution provides a market mechanism whereby mateless men (and others too) can acquire sexual services. The second point is far more fundamental and builds on Gary Becker’s insights. There is a reason why some men don’t attract (reproductive) partners; they are deadbeats and no woman will have them as the father of her children. This is natural selection at work. Laws that promote monogamy already provide a marriage subsidy to men. The logic being that women have to have all of a lessor quality reproductive partner than share in a higher quality reproductive partner.
(HT: Offsetting Behaviour)

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Written by Sinclair Davidson

December 30, 2009 at 10:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

39 Responses

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  1. I don’t know about ‘solutions’, but there are at least a couple of market myths here, namely that all relationships are, in principle, commodifiable and reducible to the status of contract, and secondly, that the market place is a Darwinian hothouse, with the naturally selected to be contrasted against the useless poor.

    Both myths should be rejected.

    THR

    December 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm

  2. Hanson and Kanazawa aren’t so much saying that this is something that government SHOULD be doing, but rather that it’s odd that voters and government seem to care deeply about some forms of inequality but not about others. Perhaps DWL is what keeps voters from caring as much about it; I’m not convinced. But I am very glad that voters don’t care about those other forms of inequality because of those DWL.

    Eric Crampton

    December 30, 2009 at 12:09 pm

  3. Not all mateless or childless individuals are poor. That is Kanazawa’s assumption. I’m also not sure about the more childless men than women stat (is that net of sexual preference and medical infertility?).

    Sinclair Davidson

    December 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

  4. Well, I’m not sure about this Kanazawa person. I’m not sure why anybody thinks it’s the government’s role to ensure citizens have enough sex, or have access to good pubs, or to wipe runny noses.

    What I’m getting at is that there are at least two familiar tropes in your post, each of which plays the role of ideological prop for the economic status quo.

    THR

    December 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

  5. This is natural selection at work. Laws that promote monogamy already provide a marriage subsidy to men. The logic being that women have to have all of a lessor quality reproductive partner than share in a higher quality reproductive partner.

    I don’t get the subsidy comment and the last sentence.

    JC

    December 30, 2009 at 12:20 pm

  6. Pretty stupid assumption too given that the “ultimate goal” of many human beings, the richer more so than the poor, is not biological reproduction at all (but rather self-realisation interpreted or pursued in many different ways). A large and growing proportion of such people spend most of their lives specifically avoiding reproduction, minimising it or ensuring it does not occur at all so they can spend their lives, in their view, more happily and productively.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  7. growing proportion of such people spend most of their lives specifically avoiding reproduction, minimising it or ensuring it does not occur at all so they can spend their lives, in their view, more happily and productively.

    Peggy, not for nothing, but under one of your previous aliases you happily informed us that you regularly had abortions performed as a birth control method. I can’t honestly see how an abortion every other month could make you happy, as the thought of going into an operating theater isn’t conducive for long term happiness especially when its every other month.

    In short how do you reconcile a regular internal hoovering with being happy when there a pills or products that prevent pregnancy.

    JC

    December 30, 2009 at 12:30 pm

  8. Everyone knows you’re a stalker and a liar jc.

    Get a life, there’s a good chap.

    And lay off the homoerotic stalking of Graeme Bird too.
    [Please stay on topic. Sinc]

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm

  9. THR, I think you missed the point. I believe that Sinclair would happily admit that relationships and breeding are no business of the government.
    It’s a thought experiment, and following it through shows that government intervention would just screw things up, so to speak. It’s an illustration of a domain of human life that is totally market driven, showing that it works well, and the well-meaning folly of trying to intevene.

    daddy dave

    December 30, 2009 at 12:39 pm

  10. Peggy hates children. Coincidentally, Phil the Freak did as well!

    Michael Sutcliffe

    December 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

  11. that the market place is a Darwinian hothouse
    .
    unfortunately, evolution is at work, even today, among us. Some people breed, and some dont, and there are patterns across the globe regarding who breeds and who doesn’t. Those patterns dictate what the next generation will look like, and the next etc.
    It’s sometimes considered in poor taste to point this out, but it is nonetheless true.

    daddy dave

    December 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm

  12. Michael Sutcliffe’s two brief non sequiturs that are also unprovable also add precisely nothing to the topic or the sum of human knowledge.

    0-10.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

  13. That’s something Phil would say. She also used to declare herself the winner of the argument with a made up score all the time. You two should get together for coffee.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    December 30, 2009 at 12:50 pm

  14. Another non sequitur, Michael. I like this game. I get to win with points with every non sequitur you unimaginatively regurgitate.

    Here’s a challenge: surprise me with an actual argument that isn’t fallacy-ridden or irrelevant.

    But remember, I’m a winged horse.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

  15. THR, I think you missed the point.

    No dave, you’ve missed the points (once again).

    I wasn’t for a moment suggesting that Sinclair supported some scheme for government regulation of ‘the meaning of life’ as this Japanese crank puts it.

    My point was that, in responding to this crankery, Sinclair employed at least two rhetorical ploys which, contrary to your assertions, have nothing factual about them, and are nothing but pure ideology. To revisit the two ploys again – the first was the idea that all relationships are commodifiable/reducible to the level of ‘contract’, and position which is neither ‘factual’ nor desirable. Secondly, look at how a rubbery notion of ‘natural selection’ is smuggled in to justify the principle that we ought not to intervene in matters of hardship. (Not that singledom is necessarily an instance of the latter).

    THR

    December 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

  16. But remember, I’m a winged horse.

    And a schlong-owning tranny! You’re right; you are very multifaceted with some unusual talents!

    Michael Sutcliffe

    December 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  17. It’s a wonder Sinclair didn’t propose the GST be imposed on married people.

    Guess that’s what the GST-supporting libertarian (yes of course it’s contradictory, but this didn’t stop these political weirdos) cult will be proposing next.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm

  18. Wow. Your sexual fantasies are as unedifying and predictable (gross combination btw) as jc’s, Michael Sutcliffe.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:06 pm

  19. You wish, Phil.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    December 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm

  20. THR – marriage is a contract. I do agree that relationships are not commodifiable – but as best I know no free marketeer has ever said they are.

    Sinclair Davidson

    December 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm

  21. It’s a wonder Sinclair didn’t propose the GST be imposed on married people.

    Hold that thought. 🙂 The Henry Review might propose such an idea.

    Sinclair Davidson

    December 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm

  22. Of course, left out of this idiotic piece by an alarmingly stupid evolutionary psychologist (read socio-biologist) is that 10-20per cent of men/women are not in the market for mates with whom to reproduce because they’re gay and are mostly not interested in parenting.

    This is natural selection at work too is it?

    To ask this question is to show how debased Kanazawa’s approach is to such complex matters.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:17 pm

  23. Michael you have no idea what I may wish for.

    We live on different planets (metaphor alert).

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  24. Peg, ‘evolutionary psychologist’ is fast becoming a synonym for ‘fucking moron’. If these guys had a shred of good faith, and a modicum of deductive reasoning skills and philosophical smarts they might spare us some of this tripe.

    THR

    December 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

  25. The whole notion of evolutionary psychology seems a contradiction in terms THR. As well as a category error.

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  26. Speaking of which, tombola:

    THR

    December 30, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  27. If we’re gonna talk about evol biology I want to know how come engineering students have since the degree was invented, apparently, according to folklore and contemporary observation, almost always been physically unattractive, boring, right-wing male nerds?

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm

  28. […] brings me to this comment by ‘Pegasus’. It’s a wonder Sinclair didn’t propose the GST be imposed on married […]

  29. What a dreadfully constructed sentence.

    C.L.

    December 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm

  30. CL studied engineering.

    LOL!

    pegasus

    December 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm

  31. Engineering students definitely are not over represented on the right. It might skew slightly more that way 10 years after graduation but I’d say the profession is overall slightly on the left. Everywhere I studied the academics could have put the Arts department to shame in terms of socialistic viewpoints, reconciliation signs on doors, and calls for more regulation and bigger government. Engineers Australia, almost certainly the dominant professional body, has a left-wing core. You get right-wing letters, but the core staff are big on that undefined ideal of ‘social justice’ and the government running everything for that strangely defined idea of the ‘common good’ that only every seems to provide ‘good’ for a small subset of the ‘common’ while the rest seem to be worse off.

    As for being physically unattractive and boring, we don’t mind because a knockback means you just move on to the next one, and we can drink more than you.

    I might as well ask how come Arts students are, according to folklore and contemporary observation, weird-looking socialist freaks who aren’t really that smart and have a natural propensity to be sexually confused?

    Michael Sutcliffe

    December 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

  32. Engineers are mostly male nerds because engineering appeals more to male brains than female brains. It’s a demonstration of evolutionary psych in action. No amount of coaching girls and extra maths classes for girls and trying to convince girls that engineering is a girly activity will change that.

    daddy dave

    December 30, 2009 at 10:59 pm

  33. Pissheads from what I’ve heard.

    sdfc

    December 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm

  34. Michael:

    Engineers are the worst possible people to be involved in politics if one of the better engineers is anything to go by. Think of Hoover treating the economy as though it was an engineering problem.

    Jc

    December 30, 2009 at 11:18 pm

  35. What an interesting digression. Party lines creatively super-imposed on university disciplines. Not an exact science, but an amusing digression IRREGARDLESS.

    Abu Chowdah

    December 31, 2009 at 8:18 am

  36. daddy dave, I’m not so sure about that. Cross-country comparisons of women in mathematics and science are interesting.

    Jarrah

    December 31, 2009 at 8:28 am

  37. Cross-country comparisons of women in mathematics and science are interesting.
    .
    yes, but not the rock-solid evidence for the primacy of culture that some take them to be. When you use data points across nations, with each nation as a datapoint, that’s fraught with problems of inference.
    .
    Besides that, having kids tends to disabuse you of the notion that “boyness” and “girlness” are cultural constructs. People who think boys and girls have naturally the same tendencies usually, in my experience, haven’t spent lots of time with small children.

    daddy dave

    December 31, 2009 at 9:48 am

  38. Boys and girls are different, sure, but what I’m expressing doubt about is the idea that *no* cultural factors are in play. Or from the other side, that gender preferences/roles are solely due to the patriarchal-hierarchical indoctrination of children.

    Jarrah

    December 31, 2009 at 11:41 am

  39. I’m happy with that. There are certainly cultural factors at play.

    daddy dave

    December 31, 2009 at 2:06 pm


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