Greg Mankiw lets out his moralist

by on July 5, 2006 at 4:44 pm in Philosophy | Permalink

Ten percent of Greg disapproves of gambling.  More than anything I am baffled by gambling; to me it would be as fun as paying to count pennies.  I genuinely cannot understand the adrenalin rush but I don’t enjoy driving really fast either.  If I let out my moralist (who is more than ten percent, I might add), I would disapprove of people who are usually late, people who smoke cigars in restaurants, people who play loud music late at night, and people who are not curious.  Call me a prude if you want, but might these people be, in some fundamental sense, partly evil?  Seriously. 

1 MJ Memphis July 5, 2006 at 5:25 pm

I, too, do not understand the lure of gambling, but I certainly do enjoy being close to a big casino town (Tunica). While the slots hold no allure for me, I do enjoy the sub-market priced (and very good) seafood buffets available there. Sometimes, it is fun to be a free rider.

2 Timothy July 5, 2006 at 5:46 pm

My father has been trying to get me to go to Las Vegas for gambling with him for the past few years. I always say the same thing: I have no interest in gambling, all I can think about are the odds. He seems to think that I’d enjoy gambling his money…but if he were to give me cash to gamble I’d rather just pocket it and go out to lunch.

3 mschrist July 5, 2006 at 7:14 pm

I have a lot of fun gambling on sports. It enhances the experience of watching sports: suddenly, I care a lot about the outcome, and I find myself watching the game really carefully.

Slots can be fun for no other reason than the bells and whistles and spinning things are entertaining. I can’t get into table games.

There is an obvious economic rationale for all four kinds of people you disapprove of–all impose costs on you! You do not like waiting for late people, or breathing cigar smoke while you are trying to eat, or listen to loud music while you are trying to sleep.

The uncurious impose an opportunity cost–you wish they were curious people who could give you some insight you might not have yourself.

4 josh July 5, 2006 at 7:22 pm

I think moralizing is partly evil.

5 Peter July 5, 2006 at 10:52 pm

ESPN Magazine had a recent article looking at why so many top athletes are big gamblers. While to some extent it’s because they have the money, the article suggested that extremely competitive people like professional athletes simply enjoy the competitiveness that high-stakes gambling offers. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a big reason why many “ordinary” people are big into gambling. There aren’t all that many outlets for competitiveness, especially if one’s job offers little along that line.

6 Nathan Sharfi July 6, 2006 at 2:16 am

Under what sort of moral system might the incurious be called evil?

7 Ted Craig July 6, 2006 at 8:49 am

Here’s something that occurred to me lately: casinos are considered adult entertainment while video game arcades are considered childish, despite the fact that an analysis of the two would prove this to be reverse logic.
In many circles, if you said you spent your Saturday afternoon at an arcade you would receive odd looks while if you said you spent it at a casino that would be perfectly acceptable. Yet in most ways your money is better spent at the arcade. If you play slots at a casino (which is one of the main activties at any casino) you are engaging in a monotonous activity in which you have no control over the outcome. Your only reward is you may win some money. If you play a video game at an arcade you can increase your investment through skill (by prolonging the length of the game) and the activity is very stimulating. There is even some evidence video games sharpen your mental skills. It would seem the trip to the arcade is the more mature choice on how to spend your time and money, yet it is seen as the opposite.

8 dearieme July 6, 2006 at 10:33 am

I briefly ran a bookmaking business at school. It was great fun but, of course, there was no gambling involved for me.

9 Jason L. July 6, 2006 at 11:11 am

This is my favorite explanation for why people enjoy gambling, as posted on my favorite blog.

10 Donald A. Coffin July 6, 2006 at 11:24 am

I’m with Dagon, conceptually. If one
Enjoys the games–blackjack, craps, pokes–
then gambling (losses) can simply be
treated as the price one pays for engaging
in an enjoyable activity. For me, the issue
is that I don’t enjoy the games. So I’m not
willing to pay in order to play them.

And, yeah, reality TV is way more weird than
gambling…and reality TV shows featuring
gambling (poker shows) are just too weird
for words.

11 lannychiu July 6, 2006 at 1:11 pm

I have to say that I really enjoying gambling, in my mind it combines some of the most interesting parts of economic analysis in a real-world environment;

1) Statistical Anaylsis – Forces you to find definable quantifable strategies where you can get a advantage (I won’t bet if I don’t think I have an edge)

2) Game Theory – In situations like poker, what is your opponent likely to do and what is my optimal response strategy

3) Optimization – How much should I bet given my resources and expected advantage.

And not only is it theoretically interesting, but if I go to the Casino I get free or discounted food and drinks. If I am sports betting I get to read about and follow information about activities in which I have a lot of interest.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable (and mentally stimulating) activity.

12 Derek Lowe July 6, 2006 at 1:49 pm

. . .and this would be a good time to break out an old line: the proper response to anyone who says that poker is not a game of skill is “Your deal!”

13 tylerh July 6, 2006 at 3:25 pm

The appeal of gambling is probably largely a function of brain chemistry. Alone amongst the behavorial “addictions”, gambling really is addictive in the clinical sense of the word and activates many of the same pathways as pharamocological addictions.

See Science 21 January 2005 307: 349, for one recent result.

14 RFJason July 8, 2006 at 3:54 pm

I genuinely cannot understand the adrenalin rush

Please stop being retarded. There may or may not be an adrenaline rush for a gambler. And, it may or may not be a motivating factor. A compulsive gambler is addicted to gambling and receives an entirely different hormone from adrenaline. A professional gambler does it as a job to make money. He is driven by success and profit motives. That an adrenaline rush may result is irrelevant. A social gambler does it for friendship and entertainment. A private gambler (some little old lady who buys her lotto ticket every week) does it for the fantasy value of dreaming about millions of dollars.

That you have made the sweeping decision that all gamblers are driven by the need for an adrenaline rush shows your sheer ignorance and general mental incompetence. You should kill yourself now.

15 linda October 9, 2006 at 6:21 am
16 baclofen June 3, 2007 at 8:53 am
17 valium June 3, 2007 at 8:58 am
18 Anonymous October 14, 2008 at 1:51 am

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