Thursday, July 05, 2007
What would they do?
Tim Worstall's comment to Tyler Cowen's post is spot on:
If we close off or limit one form of status seeking, another will simply take its place. At various times and places status has been determined by how much you give away or destroy ("potlatch" societies), order of birth (aristocracies), religious fervour (theocracies), skill at decapitating peasants with a broadsword (feudalism) and no doubt many other forms I've left out.Adam Smith had already figured this out.
If competition for social status there is going to be then that over the size of your yacht seems the least bad option: after all, in working to earn that your production has provided consumption goods for others, something that none of the other alternatives provide.
I often wonder whether figuring out the "black box" that is the utility function is really getting economics anywhere.