Tyler and I Have a New Business

Mike Moffatt has signed up with Stickk.com to try to lose some weight and he wrote to Tyler and myself.

I need to find people to give the money to if I fail, so I
thought I’d ask the Economics blogging community for help.
If you agree then if I fail at my goal, I will pay Marginal Revolution, or the charity
of your choice, $100. 

Here is my response to Mike:

Hmmmm….I am not sure whether to be pleased at the prospect of a free
$100 or upset that you consider $100 in our hands to be such good
motivation!  Speaking personally, however, I understand the difficulty
of losing weight thus I want you to know that if we receive the $100 we will not send it to India, we will not give the money to cancer research, we will not give the money to any cute
animals instead we will use your money to squash the poor, to fight
against universal health care, and to gas up our Hummer.  Moreover, we
will do this while drinking fine wine, smoking cigars, eating foie gras
and laughing uproariously.

There that ought to help.

If there are other left-wingers out there who would like more motivation to accomplish their life goals then do know that Tyler and I are here to help.


This is hilarious. :D

foie gras = pièce de résistance

I have actually done a similar thing with my girlfriend. If I don't meet my stickk.com weight loss goal, she's going to donate my $100 to a political candidate (of her choice) who I hate. The possibilities are endless and motivation is great.

Is this hummer a sort of corporate vehicle, owened by Marginal Revolutions as an entity, or do the two of you own a hummer jointly in your own name? I sort of hope it's the former, and that it has your official logo and the like painted on the side.

Hey, Dick McKenzie wrote in the January 4, 2008 WSJ about his having "heeded the suggestion of Tyler Cowen" and "contracted with a friend to pay her $500 If I had lost nine pounds at the end of 10 weeks." Dick said it worked, and he certainly is no left-winger. The title of Dick's article: "Dieting for Dollars."

As a leftie, I insist on more specificity. Exactly what methods are you going to use to quash the poor which you aren't already using? I'd insist on some new and innovative increment of quashing. As best I can tell, Tyler already spends his life eating good food, drinking fine wines, etc. so that's no incentive at all.

unless you care about losing you're money that you could be giving to the poor, or better yet, the government. ;)

I mentor high school students through a group called Community for Youth. One of the things we do to help them make their goals is to get them to "ante" something. Like in poker. They get it back if they make their goal. They pick what to give up, but they don't get to give it to someone they like if they lose. One of the other mentors has a weight-loss goal. I have in my wallet a check she wrote to a Republican gubernatorial candidate (she's a rabid Democrat) for $250. If she doesn't make her goal, I drop it in the mail. Not only will she be contributing to something she doesn't like, she'll be on all their mailing lists.

A couple of years ago, the heads of two prominent think tanks in DC had a weight-losing bet of $1,000 for each to lose 20 lbs. If one person reached his goal and the other didn't, the loser would donate the $ to the winner's think tank.

If neither reached his goal, $2,000 would be donated to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Need I say that provided an enormous incentive not to lose. However, how to explain that one of the participants didn't lose a lb., while the other reached his goal.

Free rider principle at work?

Check out this alarm clock. I think it is very much in line with the current discussion. Now what we need for this case is a scale that works on the same principle. You put in your target weight, and every time you go over it, it sends some amount to a hated organization of choice.

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