Friday, April 01, 2005


An interesting article

Hi all,

I'm still in the office. I know what you are saying..."josh, why aren't you getting ready to go woo all those cute little blonde girls who adore you so much?" Well, I'll tell you. My partying has been pretty expensive lately so I've decided to be a little more reserved this weekend. Also they are moving the pay date for our checks from Fridays to Mondays which is totally screwing with me.

Anyway, my productivity as it is measured, not as it actually exists, is being pulled down. The way we measure productivity (one way at least) is in "hours per schedule." However that isn't exactly it. It's hours per productive schedule. And what constitutes productive? One that you are able to get all of the information that the national office wanted for it. Here is the problem. You sometimes get schedules where it is literally impossible to get all that the national office wanted for it because it involves an establishment that no longer exists or doesn't exist as the national office thought it existed. I'm getting tons of situations like that recently. I'm not complaining, I'm just worried about it. I pride myself on being a good worker. I'm not particularly bright or talented, but I make up with it through persistence and hard work. So the thought that my "productivity" is being hurt by these occurences is worrying me. Don't get me wrong though, I really like my job and I'm glad I'm here. So anyway, I just thought I would explain this so that my very few readers might understand me when I talk about my productivity and such.

Finally, the title of this post claimed there would be an interesting article. Here it is. I can guarantee you that virtually everyone who isn't an economist (and maybe even some that are) are going to find this slate article of Landsburgs either foolish or offensive, but I guess my economic training (or as some of my more anti-market comrades refer to it "indoctrination") makes me think he has some good points...but I'm not convinced. He is writing about the Schiavo case in the article titled "Imagine Terri were a Toaster." His basic assertion is that whatever Terri wanted to have happen to her remains while she was alive is basically irrelevant since she is effectively dead. There is a substantive problem with that.

1. She isn't dead (or rather she wasn't at the time this was a relevant issue).

It seems like a pretty important distinction. Still, I think the article is interesting and worth a read. I'll comment more later after I have a chance to think about it.

I have to say that I disagree with this article's analysis. Specifically, this section:

Sometimes we honor the preferences of the dead because we think the dead were unusually wise, or because "letting the dead decide" is a good rule for settling disputes without bloodshed; those are the reasons we look to the U.S. Constitution for guidance, but they don't seem particularly relevant here. The other reason to honor dead people's preferences—to enforce their wills, for example—is to alter their behavior before they die.

This is a false dichotomy. There are more reasons that this to honor a dead (or brain dead) person's wishes. From an economic point of view, perhaps knowing that your remains will be taken care of according to your wishes provides so much utility while you're alive that it out weighs the utility of the living who are concerned with your remains. Such utility can only be enjoyed if a legal right to control your remains posthumously exists. Without that right, then people would not have assurances that their wishes will be carried out.

More broadly, I want to control my body and therefore I want to protect and establish the right of everyone to control their bodies. I suppose that is more of a political way of framing it. Still, econ isn't the only way of studying preferences. Political actions are definitely an important indicator of preference.
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