…ignoring the effect of becoming an economist
on your material welfare, do you believe that the economist’s mindset
is conducive to a happy life – or does a knowledge of economics lead to
a life of misery?
Nikos already has an answer, and yes he defends economics:
1. I cherish my consumer surplus. I value most of the stuff I buy way more
than what I have to pay for them; vanilla ice cream makes me happy
beyond belief, and the same is true for the music of Dream Theater and
the (soon to be purchased) Apple iphone. And what am I asked to pay for them? Peanuts.
2. I cherish my producer surplus. I am getting paid way, way more than the
salary that would make me indifferent between supplying labour and
staying at home.
3. I never have regrets: I did the best I could given the information available to me at the time.
Judging I could have done better using information I acquired at a later date makes as much sense as regretting the existence of gravity. On a related topic, I understand the irrelevance of sunk costs.
4. While I do care for my welfare in relative terms, my welfare in absolute terms looms large in my utility function – and, boy, look how its value has been growing.
5. The selfishness of my fellow human beings does not make me anxious or depressed. Adam Smith
(or was it Mandeville?) taught me that humans, selfish as they are, can make happy societies. And perhaps more to the point, they can make me happy.
Just think, consumer surplus from your consumer surplus. Only the fixed point theorem prevents him from reaching pure bliss. Most generally, (good) economics insulates people from expecting the impossible, and that does make for greater happiness and contentment. Do you all agree?