Quote of the [Time Period]

July 28, 2008

From Steven Landsburg’s More Sex is Safer Sex, an excellent economics-themed book:

[I]t’s the economist’s job to explain where we ought to be headed, and the political scientist’s job to explain why we can’t get there from here (p. 124).

Also in this book: why you should limit your donations to a single charity, why a desire for revenge is a useful trait, and how the government can solve problems (comma, full stop).


Another quote (it’s a good book!):

Various empirical studies have estimated the number of lives lost due to the FDA’s approval process. But you don’t need numbers to tell you the incentives are screwed up, and when the incentives are screwed up the outcomes have pretty much got to be bad (p. 79).


Is it fair to punish diligent jurors who make honest mistakes? of course not. Nor is it fair to punish diligent farmers whose crops fail or diligent authors whose books don’t sell or diligent bakers who misread the market and make too many bagels. In an ideal world, we’d reward effort. In the world we live in, effort is unobservable, so we reward results.

Unfairness is part of any good incentive system (p. 86).


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