High Tide Haiku

Tempest hits your isle
Closed ears to men in lab coats
Ignorance is Bliss

God’s plan with his might
Your bed time story at night
Victor Frankl’s right

If there’s meaning in
Life, there’s meaning in suff’ring
Victor Frankl’s line

Tinder and Mate Values

Gone are the days of courting women you met at church or at the park. Today, the college scene, parties, and online sites are where I see my friends gravitating towards to meet partners. Tinder, an application for smartphones, is just the newest advent.

I wonder, why would people with extremely low superficial values use an app like Tinder? Would a Tinder user not reject any potential dialect upon seeing someone who reflects an abomination?   Would someone considered to be in the 99th percentile not find more productive means to find a life partner?   I cannot imagine coming across an Aphrodite on Tinder

If we assume that beauty has a standard normal distribution then the extremes one standard deviation from the mean contains 68% of the population, two standard deviations contains 95% of the population, and three deviations contains 99% of the population.

Common sense tells us that the vast majority of Tinder users come from withing one standard deviation. This probability is further reinforced by my theory that it would be counter productive for anyone in the extremities of the distribution to use the Tinder. For those who are in the lower extreme of a beauty distribution, I believe your best chances of finding a significant other is by letting them get to know you, and showing off other traits that attribute to your mate value.

What I mean by “mate value” is the aggregate value of the desirable traits you look for when looking to date, love, or marry. Such traits include beauty, human capital(intelligence), wealth, income potential, etc. It is not just sex appeal. If you’re funny, exploit that strength. If you’re brilliant, again, show it off!  If you are in the high extremes, I don’t have any advice for you and you probably wouldn’t need it. For those of use who are single, lowering your standards will go a long way, at least that’s what my economic training suggests.

Economic’s Insight into the Age-Old Argument of Waffles or Pancakes

Last night my best friend and biological brother argued that Waffle House and its waffles are better than IHOP and its pancakes. I was playing the devils advocate and argued that pancakes are better because the long-run has given us more IHOPs than Waffle Houses, at least that seems to be the case here in northern Virginia. My brother’s rebuttal to the long-run was that we are not talking about the long-run, we are talking about the present.

Our argument last night was cut short  to yield way to a heated FIFA match and it was only until now, Tuesday morning, that I remember to pick up where we left off.

My argument against my brother’s rebuttal is that the long-run has taken us to the present. Imagine a racquetball aficionado anguished by the crowds he encounters when trying to rent a court. The natural reaction would be to wish that there were fewer racquetball players showing up at the court. The economist in me argues that the crowd is not large enough. If there were more racquetball players in the city, then the entrepreneurial-spirit would invest in more racquetball courts.

Upon further inspection, it looks like the consensus is that pancakes are more popular than waffles simply because we see more IHOPs. Chris and Bill, the people have voted with their dollars and they have voted for IHOP.

After googling what a “waffle” is, I have to agree that waffles are more satisfying than pancakes.

The Market for Soulmates

Professor Bryan Caplan,  Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center, once said “Everyone who is single is voluntarily single.”

What he means is that if we lowered our standards enough, we could guarantee ourselves a significant other. Evidently we have high and almost unrealistic expectations for ourselves. If you curse Valentines day because you are without a significant other, you only have yourself to blame. You could have tried romancing with the chubby girl who is always complementing your smile or the girl who everyone shuns. You had to set your eyes on the high hanging fruit, the girl everyone dreams of, the girl who is clearly out of your league.

Bryan Caplan may also suggest that part of the reason you are single is due to an “information problem.” The market is not perfect, there are opportunities for trade that go unfulfilled. In a market for significant others, the best way to correct for the information problem is to ask as many girls out, also known as the shotgun method.

This method may seem unreasonable to some, and there is a bit of a social stigma for those who do employ this method. This is especially true if they are girls. But someone will appreciate your initiative for lowering the information cost, and there is a good chance you will eventually find someone who reciprocates the feelings. Let us say that the chances are higher than if you were to stay at home writing blog posts.

You are at an advantage if what you value most is not a priority for your competitors. For me, soccer abilities take priority followed by their inclination towards libertarianism.

The Morality of Price Gouging and Arbitrage

Price Gouging: pricing above the market price when no alternative is available.
The free market response to either an increase in the quantity demanded or a decrease in the quantity supplied is price gouging.  Today DC finds itself buried in a foot of snow and  as a result snow shovels were cleared off the shelves at retail stores and many found themselves doomed to be snowed in. We need not limit our example to snow shovels, but can expand it to water  and electric generators.  34 of the 50 states prohibit price gouging. Although the law is clear on this issue, is price gouging morally wrong?
Consumer surplus is what economist call the difference between the buyer’s willingness to pay and the price he actually pays. Price gouging discourages buyers who have a lower utility for the good, thus allowing conservation of the good for someone else who has a greater need for it, for someone with a larger consumer surplus.
The alternative would be for the good to be sold off on a first come first serve basis, and the ramifications of dispelling market forces are catastrophic. If prices were fixed, then the first one to show up to buy the electric generator might very well be a father who is running an errand at the request of his daughter, who needs the generator to watch her reality TV show or to straighten her hair. This might be at the expense of another father who is in desperate need of the generator to keep his ailing daughter’s medication refrigerated.  I must ask, is this really the most practical way of distributing goods in an economy?
In an unrestricted market, price gouging would allow sellers to raise the price of a good in the case of a shock, either in the supply or demand of the good. This will allow the man who means to purchase the electric generator for trivial matters to reconsider, and gives the man who’s family is facing a life or death situation, a chance to purchase the generator, albeit at a higher price.
Price gouging, I believe, is perfectly moral and, as opposed to being mortified, should be encouraged. If the price of an electric generator is higher in one city relative to its neighbors it should be expected that the profit incentive will encourage those from neighboring cities to purchase generators from abroad, and bring them into the city that has a need for them, i.e. arbitrage. This increase in the quantity supplied will, in due time, lower the price back to its pre-natural disaster equilibrium price.
Dedicated to Ben A.

Animal Farm

Species extinction is a loaded topic that touches too close to heart to many of my friends and I will do my best to empathize with them.

The Black Rhino has been declared extinct, and we were powerless to stop it. It will only exist in empty museum halls and dusty textbooks, banished eternally from the grasslands it once roamed.

In the grasslands the Black Rhino has become another victim to the Tragedy of the Commons. Individuals, acting rationally out of self-interest, depleted the resource even though its depletion is contrary to the group’s long-term best interest.

They say capitalism was the cause of the Black Rhino’s extinction, however, it could have been key to its salvation. Anti-poaching laws have done little to prevent greedy poachers from hunting down the black rhino to extinction for its horn.

The proper institutions are not in place, government officials are very much bribable. How can anti-poaching laws be enforced if poachers can bribe officials to look the other way? With proper institutions in place, Capitalism coupled with Property Right, a key element of free markets, would have saved the Black Rhino.

Individuals in clear possession of endangered species are best suited to insure their survival. As proprietors of the animal, it is in their best interest to keep something so scarce alive because they know that others value it.

Owning the last pocket of an endangered species screams profit. Rational Choice Theory argues that if there’s value in an estate sheltering an endangered species, then it would also make sense to “farm” them to increase the value of the estate. Yes, I said “farm.”

My friend argues that we would be saving an endangered animal for the wrong reason. I can empathize with her. I too would not want to see an animal caged in its habitat, even if that cage extends beyond its migration patterns. Ultimately I believe that saving an animal for the wrong reasons is better than failing to save them.

If you don’t believe I care about the issue, check out this “endangered species chocolate” bar I bought last night. It’s Rainforest Friendly, NON GMO verified, and Gluten Free!

endangered species chocolate

endangered species chocolate