Irrationality Assumption

Freelance writing requires a digital workhorse, and my Asus netbook, running Windows XP Student Edition, is a tired old mule. It’s bluescreening out of spite and taking 30 seconds to like, open the control panel. I’m pushing it too far and too much, I know. It’s time for an upgrade. A rational person at this point  buys a new laptop and ends the story.

Here’s what I’ve done:

1. Research: My hacker cousin messaged me a list of laptops. Good start!

2. Budget: Consulted with the Budget Committee (my husband, Sal) and line-itemed the purchase.

3. Store: Fry’s Electronics, because they are nice to me. They have a rodeo theme. That’s quirky and fun.

This was all decided days and days ago. So why am I typing this blog on Mr. Bluescreen? Why am I flailing my arms at him, stomping around, making idle threats?

Why haven’t I bought a new computer?

It’s a phenomenon of purchasing behavior that economists have missed. I know this because there’s no sexy term for it.* It goes like this: you know you should upgrade a thing – you’ve calculated the benefit / cost ratio and rationally it makes sense. But the one-time hassle cost of the purchase looms in your perception as greater than the accumulation of 30-second mini agonies of your present, outdated thing. Neither self-awareness of your irrationality nor clear benefits of the upgrade are enough to push you to change.

What will ultimately propel me is an explosion of frustration. I predict it will be 3:00 am, midweek. I’ll floor it to Walmart, and buy the first computer I can see through the rage-fog and a pane of glass, to replace the one Mr. Bluescreen broke.

I sent this text to Sal 59 minutes ago:

“I can’t take it anymore. The 12 seconds between every bloody click are tiny eternities binding me in DIGITAL HELL! If we don’t update my laptop to one that works you may come home to find this netbook roped off in a crime scene!! AHHHHH SAVE ME FROM MYSELF!!! love u.”

I’m getting close.

 

*Feel free to correct me if there is a word for this phenomenon. I’ll use it, acting like I knew it all along.

 

 

A book on economics that mentions Quentin Tarantino…

…I am so geeking out right now.

Thomas Piketty: the French economist bringing capitalism to book | Business | The Guardian.

beetroot theory

I was plucking chunks of mud caked to the skin of a beetroot when it hit me.  This is further evidence that Rational Choice Theory is flawed!  This beetroot!

dirty beet

I don’t like beets, but they come in my weekly veg bag, so I have this problem where I end up with a pile of dirty beets and nothing to do with them.  Rational Man might try to sell these beets on ebay, or chuck them at someone they dislike, perhaps, or chuck the nasty little beasts in the food recycling, where they belong.

Rational Man would NOT, however, be standing in the kitchen on a Sunday evening, dusting off beets to make them slightly more presentable, only to bring them to work and distribute them for free to his (bizarre) colleagues who (ACTUALLY) like beets.

What utility-maximising person would do this?

THEY WOULDN’T!  Yet here I stand, cleaning dirty veg for others!  Ergo, Rational Choice Theory has a beet-shaped hole in it!

I resume my task, feeling vindicated in this small, but satisfying, jab at neo-Classical economics.

 

tea time with the deceased

Look, just once, ok?  Just once I’d like to have tea with John Maynard Keynes.  Is that so much to ask?  I’ll make the tea, I’ll bring scones and clotted cream.  I just want to hang out, have a few laughs, talk about the weather, you know.

I spent the weekend reading a biography about economic magicians of the past, basking in their cerebral glory, and it made me a little sad.  And a bit wistful.

Where are the great philosophers? Where did they go?  Why is my time on this planet not chock full of renaissance people and beautiful prose on monetary policy?  Why does the universe produce greatness in spurts?

We could use a little greatness right now.  I ain’t saying Keynes or Hayek could get us out of this wacky financial tangle we’ve woven.  It’s not their place anyway; it’s our mess, we ought to clean it up.  But I sure would like to have their two cents.  (Tuppence?)

Sigh.  There’s nothing more pitiful than a melancholy nerd.