I am sitting alone in my living room catching up on the day while I await the arrival of the KP Spouse so we can dine. I am indulging in a favorite alone pleasure: Virgin Radio UK on the spiffy music server (it’s too pop-y for the KP Spouse).
Franz Ferdinand’s “Do You Want To” has just come on. I love love love Franz Ferdinand. I have both of their CDs, and I have played them to death; I can play this song in my head and sing it in its entirety, and can play it any time I want on the home stereo, my computer, or my iPod.
So here’s the question: why does the unexpected pleasure of hearing it on the radio produce such a frisson of pleasure? Why is the experience of hearing it in this context so different, and so pleasurable? It’s not like it’s a scarce good; I own it, can play it whenever I want, as much as I want.
I find the same thing with DVDs I own, particularly with episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Even though I own them, whenever I come across them on TV I watch them, and am excited to find them.
Ooooh, now Virgin Radio UK is playing Human League! How can the KP Spouse not like this? Oooh, now they’re playing Snow Patrol “Chasing Cars”! I was just listening to this on the way home! So why am I so excited that they’re playing it?
Edmund Phelps has won this year’s Bank of Sweden Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Can’t argue with that, very important macro work that revealed the complexity of the interaction between inflation and unemployment.
Tyler’s of course got the summary, and his take mirrors mine:
But Phelps is not an economist who has influenced my own thinking much if at all. His major contributions were absorbed, and were standard fare, by the time I was a young’un. For instance I drunk the same macro milk through the writings of Milton Friedman. I find him to be a murky writer, and often he is frustrating to read and hard to pin down. His advocates would characterize him as a “rich” thinker.
For my money, the value of his work is in dialing down the hubris of the government policymaker who thought that monetary and fiscal policy were dials that they could twiddle to control and manage the economy. Phelps’ work helped to introduce some humility to counter that control-oriented exuberance.
This David Weigel article from the November issue of Reason made me very glad that I don’t live in Pennsylvania anymore (not that Illinois politics offers me any attractive choices either).
The not-so-secret twist of Pennsylvania’s Senate race is that both candidates are trying to reshape their parties’ coalitions by tacking hard to the big-government, social conservative center. Casey, an old-school liberal on taxes, wages, trade, and union issues, is also an anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research, pro-Iraq war conservative. Santorum, who started his career in 1991 as a tax-cutting, small-government conservative congressman, has evolved into a visionary Republican leader in using government to fund religious charities and pay families to stick together.
Yikes. This certainly reinforces my deep conviction that the best route to civil society and individual well-being is to take as many decisions as possible out of the political process.