Saturday, May 05, 2007

Racism and The Tragedy of the Commons

Externalities have always been my favorite field of economic study. The costs and benefits that accrue to people outside of an economic transaction.

A simple example of an externality is that of a homeowner who fixes their place up and also adds to the value of their neighbor's homes as well (a positive externality). Or the flipside, a homeowner who is a slob, who drags down the value of his neighbor's homes too (a negative externality).

The most famous statement on externalities is probably The Tragedy of the Commons:

It descibes a public pasture where farmers are free to graze their cattle. The benefits of adding one more cow to the field accrue only to the farmer, while the cost (in less well-fed cattle) is borne by every farmer who has a herd grazing in the pasture.

Taken to its extreme, there will not be enough food for any of the cattle to survive on, and they all die.

While studies of externalities usually focus on things like polluting factories, I see a Tragedy of the Commons problem developing in racism in America.

It's fairly obvious that racism is being employed for political and economic gain these days. The people who want to continue the war in Iraq demonize all Muslims quite blatantly. Talk radio hosts practice a milder form of racism to increase their audience. Politicians push the fear of a Mexican invasion to win votes. etc.

But I think all these "farmers" of race have gone too far. Too many have jumped into the racism game in the last few years, and the ones already in the game have become even more racist to hold on to their audience in the face of competition.

I think they've triggered a backlash from the majority of Americans who realize that the corrosive effects of racism, taken to the extreme, will tear America apart.

Don Imus had his herd put down.

Who's next?


Blogger happyfeet said...

Bet you a dollar to a donut it's Katie Couric. Americans realize the corrosive effects of her liberal, anti-Christian bubbleheadedness, and are rejecting her as the tragically common trollop that she is.

9:35 PM  
Blogger happyfeet said...

Did that sound hateful?

10:18 PM  
Blogger alphie said...

Hehe, happy.

"Liberal" isn't the flipside to racism.

4:57 PM  
Blogger happyfeet said...

Ok, but you did cite a demonization of Muslims along with the racism, and Katya sure doesn't go out of her way to put those Christian people in a flattering light.

The sure bet is that her departure will undeniably bespeak a verdict of the market. Cf. Ellerbee, Linda

5:21 PM  
Blogger alphie said...

Maybe CBS will bring Bob Schieffer back?

I actually watched network news for the first time in a long time when he was behind the anchor desk.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alphie…Beliefs play a part in cultural differences and related statisics. ‘Honor killing’ is a dirty old belief as is the claim that males (including those educated as doctors) cannot assist a female in childbirth. Likewise is the additional claim that females need not be educated. Many Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan yet believe that if any male assists a female in childbirth then both are commiting a Sin. Where such beliefs guide a society the statistics for untimely female deaths are horrendous.
In the United States 17 per 100,000 females die annually due pregnancy/childbirth complications.
In Afghanistan: 1900 per 100,000
In Pakistan: 500 per 100,000

It also stands that males murder females at a greater rate than females murder males—everywhere, unless you can cite an exception.
In the United States blacks are about 10% of the population but the rate of murdered female victims per 100,000 in the population has been historically far greater for black females than for white females.

According to your post at Michael there is no need for the UN to bring about reform related to ‘honor killings.’ But the bottom line for these statistics is: reform needed, whatever the dirty old belief.

12:08 PM  

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