Sunday, August 08, 2004


Marginal Revolution includes a nice post on the perennial discussion of what constitutes "well offness", what do happiness surveys tell us, myopia, etc.

Priests and professors (and many others) have for years been telling anyone who would listen that they are pursuing all of the false gods, including the worst of them all, Mammon.

This is a discussion that we will always have. Perhaps to the good. In the meantime, can we celebrate a situation where more of us have more free choice over what to pursue than ever?

This usually where the incoherent stumble. An occasional theme of the left is that people have "too many choices" (this is wasteful and/or causes sensory overload and headaches, etc.). Yet, many of the same critics also claim that the evolving built environment, for example, is sterile and devoid of truly "interesting" (to me) choices.

The latter complaint cannot be addressed without reference to microeconomics and scale economies. In open markets, market niches left unattended are unlikely unless the technology is such that profitable scale is much larger then the effective demand size of the niche.

Yet, it is a safe bet that even were all demand niches to coincide with all profitable scales, the discussion of elusive well-offness would proceed. Arguably, it touches on all seven of the deadly sins.