Sunday 11 December 2011

Which inequalities matter?

Pity the borderline Asperger's investment banker who, despite his financial success, seems at a bit of a disadvantage in dating. Reddit posted the 1600 word email that the would-be suitor sent to the woman who dumped him after the first date; it's since shown up all kinds of places. But folks snickering at it seem an awful lot like a rich one-percenter laughing at a pleading email from a starving man.

If I can play armchair psychiatrist, the same Asperger tendencies that helped this poor guy in investment banking have killed him in dating.

If you're an egalitarian, what is appropriate policy? Is this guy better or worse off than the poor musician who dates easily? With whom would you rather trade places, taking both their positions and their characteristics? If we redistribute income because the investment banker's last dollar is worth less to him than it would be to the poor musician, think too about the marginal utility of the musician's last date relative to the banker's.


  1. I go for the poor musician. Men have red tube now. It can fix you up in minutes. Sex with women is grossly over rated. Once you start it you can not stop. You eventually get children like Eric, and then everything fades to family.

  2. I say the solution is to tax attractiveness/height and give this taxation to the uglier/shorter people. We just have to work out how much the attractiveness/height is worth on average and where each person sits on the scale.

  3. Is it not obvious that the answer is state-funded prostitutes for Aspies?

  4. @Peter: You're just trying to signal that you're at a point on the quantity axis where marginal utility is low. Braggart!

    @bmk: It has been proposed. If you start on the project, you have to tax all the margins. And there's no end of plausible hierarchies.

    @Eli: Obvious enough that I thought it could go without saying.

  5. @bmk, I don't think that would be very "fair". Afterall we don't tax people on their education, or their potential income, but rather their actual income. We would have to tax them by their actual dates/sex not their attractiveness. So I'd suggest a system like the following:

    0-50 sex acts a year gets you a 0% "tax rate"
    50-100 sex acts a year gets you a 10% "tax rate"
    100-500 sex acts a year gets you a 20% "tax rate"
    500+ sex acts a year gets you a 30% "tax rate"

    The "tax rate" would be "paid" by attending a government run brothel where you would be randomly assigned to someone who is attracted to your gender who's on "sexless benefits".*

    You could claim "sexless benefits" if you where under 100 sex acts a year, though the highest rate would only be available for people under 20 sex acts a year, and it would decrease progressively from there.

    Of course there would be some questions about what qualifies as a "sex act", and should there be some things that only qualify as half a sex act? I think also we'd have to give a discount to married couples, say something like sex with your spouse only counting as 2/3 of a sex act (since we provide taxation discounts to married couples already)

    This would be simple, progressive, and most importantly "fair". Of course we would have to start a major new government agency dedicated to stamping out "under-the-table"/non-registered sex, but that's the cost of "fairness"

    * There would of course be various forms of corruption involved in this "random" lotto, but that's an acceptable cost.

  6. Anyone else think TimP is taking this a little way too seriously?

  7. @TimP: Alternatively, we could adopt Comic Book Store Guy's proposal: mandatory Ponn Far.

  8. I think TimP is correct. We shouldn't seek to remedy all inequalities with money. Income inequality is best addressed through income redistribution, but to address other inequalities by redistributing money merely propagates the Western imperialist worldview that money is all that matters.

    TimP proposes an excellent methodology fir addressing inequalities in the frequency of sexual acts, but gutter work would clearly be required to address quality-related inequalities. Performnce caps perhaps.

    Unfortunately, inequalities in height, attractiveness and intelligence will require some form of surgical redistribution. Whether we'll have any surgeons left once we start redstributing intelligence is an open question. But then it would be a form of stereotyping to say that a surgeon of mediocre intelligence would be less effective than a highly intelligent one.

  9. I meant 'further work'. Silly autocorrect.

  10. Actually addressing inequality is very simple. It just requires the government to give me heaps more money to overcome my feeling of inadequacy/inequality.

  11. @nzclassicalliberal: I oughtn't read your stuff about performance caps in an open plan office in which guffaws need be explained.

  12. I'm not sure I'm particularly happy with the way the incidence of a sex tax would fall mainly on the shoulders of men in the current sex market.

  13. Matt (and Tim). I'm assuming solo sex acts wouldn't count for the purposes of the sex tax. Otherwise this become a bit pointless.