Negative Externalities

by on January 24, 2011 at 7:05 am in Economics | Permalink


Snopes verified. Hat tip: Ben Cahill.

1 David Wright January 24, 2011 at 3:09 am

Roanoke is in Virginia. Southern Virginia. In the Appalachians. Need I say more?

2 Winston McGrain January 24, 2011 at 4:08 am

A follow-up article several months later:

3 Thomas January 24, 2011 at 4:23 am

If she smoked only occasionally and had to listen to the jackhammers all day, she was probably correct in her evaluation of the risks.

4 Andrew January 24, 2011 at 5:17 am

She can worry about the smoking, but she can't worry about the smoking AND worry about the jackhammers.

5 dearieme January 24, 2011 at 5:22 am

"Quitting smoking is hard": then don't bloody start.

6 Cliff January 24, 2011 at 5:49 am

What would be dangerous about jackhammers?

7 gorpnik January 24, 2011 at 6:03 am

Of course, if we take the theory of externalities seriously it shouldn't matter how bad smoking is relative to noise. But then, that might reveal how useless the theory is when weighing it in the real and complicated world of offsetting factors.

8 Robert Speirs January 24, 2011 at 6:58 am

She's obviously a committed intellectual Darwinian trying to make sure she has the fittest baby possible. Any child that can survive jackhammers and nicotine in the womb is clearly worthy of life. Or perhaps she's a surrogate mother and has no reason to care.

9 k January 24, 2011 at 7:09 am

who came to the nuisance first?


10 Alex Tabarrok January 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

Matthew makes a good point. Name blotted.

11 Ron Potato January 24, 2011 at 7:38 am

"Official says wait for end result"

A classic civil servant maneuver, whereby the policy is already entrenched before you are allowed to consider whether to establish it.

12 mulp January 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

Jack hammers are the sound of big government road and other public infrastructure spending which is harmful to individual welfare.

Tobacco is a free market good which is always a virtue that promote the individual welfare and is an expression of individual liberty.

And after all, the free market in scientific study has shown for decades that smoking tobacco is good because it calms people and provides an aid to weight control.

13 Jim January 24, 2011 at 8:01 am

"Roanoke is in Virginia. Southern Virginia. In the Appalachians. Need I say more?"

No need — your bigotry is crystal clear. Thanks.

14 Thedo January 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

I get the irony and all, and it's a hoot, but what struck me was the caption, which should read: "[name], a Bullitt Avenue resident, worries about the effect from the sound of jackhammers on her unborn child."

Or does the caption writer know something we don't that this woman's baby was conceived with the sound of jackhammers?

15 Andrew January 24, 2011 at 10:02 am

Stress is probably worse than smoking. So, taking abusive calls from righteous douchebags didn't do the baby any favors.

16 Michelle January 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Nicotine is addictive because of the combination of Nicotine with an MAOI. It's actually a pretty effective anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drug. Consider how many smokers lack access to mental health services.

17 Matt B January 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

There is nothing more courteous than letting stupid people hang from their own rope. I'd guess that Matthew also believes that 100% of the stupid public should be voting in all elections.

18 Scott January 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Wait for end results. It says it all, no?

Her name was published by the paper, and Alex was discreet enough to remove it, but anybody who fails to see the irony in this entire image is blind, and they may have 20/20 vision at the same time…

19 Chip Hessenflow January 25, 2011 at 4:41 am

Ba ha ha ha!

20 Aaron January 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

Jeff, Internet meme adoption among those over 35 is fragmented. As such you'll see a lot of extremely old stuff pop up from time to time. I constantly get forwards from the pre-Bush years from my parents. I'm waiting for Mr. T Ate My Balls resurgence. Followed up shortly by emails about how funny and fresh this new All Your Base video is.

21 Vehicle Driver January 25, 2011 at 10:01 am

Smoking is bad for pregnant women, sure. But that is not why there is outrage over a pregnant woman smoking.

Smoking, culturally, has switched from something glamorous in popular culture, to something that denotes working class in popular culture. In the 1930s, it would be someone rich and posh in a movie smoking… in the 21st century, a movie would use smoking as a cue that they are working-class, like a truck driver or factory worker.

So while eating a vegan diet while pregnant, or forgoing vaccinations because of autism-hysteria, or having a birth with a midwife in your bathtub instead of going to a hospital, are all behaviors that put an unborn baby in the same sort of risk… People aren't going to be outraged by it, because all those behaviors are indicative of the upper-middle-class lifestyle.

We are outraged, because we are conditioned to show a healthy disrespect for lower-class people, lest we be mistaken for being lower class. We posture against working-class behavior, trying to signal that we ourselves are not working class.

22 John Doe February 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm


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