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New Models of Economic Reasoning

March 31, 2001


This discussion is consequent to a discussion I had two nights ago with my two roomates:

Dan and Jay. I’m writing this while a little drunk, after having had an absolutely incredible day at Tom Pepper’s house.


American society is designed to make people unhappy. People who are

content don’t feel compelled to work 16-hour workdays.

People who are happy with their lives don’t feel the inherent need

to spend every last dollar on some fleeting consumable to make them

feel like they are “good people.” While no evil mastermind is behind

the plans, Americans are being engineered to be pretty miserable.

They are not being engineered to be completely miserable because

complete misery inspires a certain apathetic despair that doesn’t

boost the economy at all. Instead, the ideal is to have you at the

point where you are at the edge of losing hope, where you are desperately

willing to try anything to infuse your life with a little meaning. Where

you are willing to honestly consider that maybe a shade redder of

lipstick *will* make you attractive enough to catch that man who will

finally bring happiness and meaning in your life; where that extra 50

horsepower really *will* make you feel like a man and feel like life is


Happy people just want some food, some shelter, and a great deal of

company. Once they have this base level of sustenance met, they can

pursue their inner happiness without a great deal of concern for

other material goods. They find their happiness in existance and in

sharing life with the people around them. A nation full of happy

people is a nation full of people who don’t need goods to fulfill


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