Here is a recent column of hers, but I would have answered the readers' questions differently. A' la Tim Harford, let's see how the advice of this economist might have come out...
Question: After several years of searching for Mr. Right, I have met someone who holds great promise for a long-term relationship. He is a soft-spoken man who treats me with great respect. He’s been a widower for many years, raising his children alone and doing a marvelous job. He’s a hard worker, honest, and seems very smitten with me. We have a great deal in common including our profession, which has been a real challenge for me since I have a nontraditional job in agriculture. The problem is, he’s an awful kisser, something I find pretty important when it comes to intimacy. How do you tell someone that the way they kiss is a real turnoff and not hurt their feelings? It’s not like we’re kids, we’re in our 50s.
Tyler: This is a signal that you don’t adore him as much as you think. Some basic technique is required, but kissing is ninety percent psychology and connection. Cut through the self-deception and ask yourself the honest questions. Why didn’t you write "I love him"? Your second, fourth, and fifth sentences make him sound like a dullard whom you will grow to despise.
The economist can be brutal, no? Let us try another one:
I been involved with a lady for two months. We have much in common, and in many ways it’s a very satisfying relationship. Recently she dropped a bomb. In the middle of conversation she announced that she was going to kill herself when she was 75. Did not want to go through the usual body/mind deterioration. She made this choice at 18, after watching Harold and Maude. I watched the movie but could see little that would cause one to make such a brutal decision and stick with it. She’s 51 now. We are on a month’s sabbatical from the relationship. I’m just coming out of deep mourning and feel it’s my role now to try to convince her of the wrongness of her decision. I’ve decided it’s the most selfish, arrogant act imaginable. She wants family and friends there to cheer, "What a wonderful life. What a glorious death." Out of love, I must try to dissuade her from this wasteful end. Any advice? Why did she have to tell me this late?
Tyler: Have you heard of "cheap talk equilibria"? It is unlikely she means to carry out her plan. Probably when she was eighteen she thought she would kill herself at age 51. That being said, read my advice to the first question above. You probably don’t want her anyway, and you are writing Prudie [Tyler] to put off facing this unpleasant truth about yourself. You are still not out of your mourning, and that will wreck this relationship whether you want it to or not.
Let’s skip the question about non-intersecting offer curves and move to the next:
I am engaged and we are in the process of planning our wedding. There is a huge debate over what is OK to put in the invitations and what is not. My fiance and I have been living together for a little over a year and we aren’t planning on registering because we already have so much. So, monetary gifts would be great for us! Now, how do you put this in your invitation? A few suggestions have come up but we don’t want to seem rude or crass. Please help!
Oh, what a softball. We have already blogged on the deadweight loss of gift-giving, here and here. So my major advice is simply to read MarginalRevolution on a regular basis. I can add only that if you are going to ask for money, set up a college fund. Your kids-to-be are not yet experiencing the impatience of waiting for the money, which implies an arbitrage opportunity with g > r, or the growth rate of the funds greater than the rate of time discount. Nor do I think that the mechanisms of Ricardian Equivalence will fully offset this transfer. Got that?