Saturday, June 16, 2007

Oh this is good, this is very good...

Continuing my recent fascination with economics and economists:

Economist's View points to recent research that finds that, under experimental situations, people derive pleasure not only from giving money voluntarily, but also from paying taxes. The conditions of the experiment are restrictive (the money goes to an undeniably worthwhile cause: a food bank) but, even bearing the restrictions in mind, the experiment adds to the mass of evidence (not to mention plain common sense) which suggests that human beings are far from purely self-interested. This is bad news for those who wish to use simplistic takes on economic theory as a justification for right-wing view points and it also has interesting ramifications for concepts such as Pareto Optimality. But that's not what got me chuckling; this was:

The study gives economists a novel look inside the brain during taxation, said co-author William T. Harbaugh, a UO professor of economics and member of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass. “To economists, the surprising thing about this paper is that we actually see people getting rewards as they give up money,” he said.

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