On Women and Assets

by Don Boudreaux on May 29, 2008

in Energy, Politics, Prices

Here are two letters sent today to USA Today:

You suggest that women are
less likely than men to seek political office because women have fewer
political role models, and because "no one urges them to run"  ("Our view
on women in politics: Reluctant to take the plunge
," May 29).  I offer
a different reason: women are more decent than men.

Fewer women
than men itch to lord it over others.  Also, women are less willing
than men to perform the countless asinine stunts and soul-shriveling
pandering necessary to win political office.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

And

Re your editorial "One
bright sign emerges in a gloomy housing marke
t" (May 29) and the
general dismay about falling real-estate prices and rising gasoline
prices: What principle of economics suggests that markets are working
well when the price of one asset (say, housing) rises, but not when the
price of another asset (say, petroleum) rises?  What principle of
ethics dictates that owners of one asset (say, housing) are entitled to
capital gains and to enjoy these gains however large they might be, but
that owners of another asset (say, petroleum) are not so entitled to
their gains?

Finally, what moral precept advises us, in the case
of petroleum products, to sympathize with buyers and demonize sellers,
and in the case of housing, to ignore buyers and sympathize with
sellers?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 25 comments }

kook May 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Good points in both the letters!

mcwop May 29, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Because people that own oil assets are evil, and people that own homes were hoodwinked by sub-prime mortgage companies. Duh….

Gil May 29, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Eh. John Lott Jr. reckons there a high correlation between womens' rights and increase in Socialism.

Bret May 30, 2008 at 12:20 am

"Fewer women than men itch to lord it over others."

Hmmm. I'm skeptical. For example, note that it's Mothers Against Drunk Driving, not fathers.

M. Hodak May 30, 2008 at 12:53 am

"Women are more decent than men."

A nice demo of soul-enhancing pandering?

Niels May 30, 2008 at 2:48 am

This article could shed some light on the first matter (less women running for public office):

http://denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm

sethstorm May 30, 2008 at 5:32 am

Finally, what moral precept advises us, in the case of petroleum products, to sympathize with buyers and demonize sellers, and in the case of housing, to ignore buyers and sympathize with sellers?

It's a matter of who yields more practical power in each case.
In the case of oil, parts of it come from speculation, rabid environmentalism, and the actions of OPEC.
In the case of housing, it's a matter of de-regulation, plain and simple. Those who did not carefully look at the borrower lost out in the end as well.

I_am_a_lead_pencil May 30, 2008 at 7:59 am

sethstorm,

You are nipping at the edges rather than answering the question directly. Here is the direct question:

"Finally, what moral precept advises us, in the case of petroleum products, to sympathize with buyers and demonize sellers, and in the case of housing, to ignore buyers and sympathize with sellers?"

You should begin your response with:

The moral precept is….

Keith May 30, 2008 at 8:19 am

"I offer a different reason: women are more decent than men."

What's the definition of decent?

At the risk of being general and sounding sexist, it's been my experiance that women are far more likely to have/hold an opinion because of what they think/feel and no amount of logic or reasoning will change it, especially when it comes to "moral" issues.

Tony May 30, 2008 at 9:21 am

I respectfully disagree with your notion that women are somehow more 'decent' than men. I lend my support and almost agree with the above post by Keith.

First, the term 'decent' encompasses a whole manner of sins, doesn't it?

Second, even if there is a consensus on its definition, I would offer a bevy of ways I've seen women behave that would be hard to classify as 'decent'.

And lastly, if Mrs. Clinton's behavior on the campaign trail can be generalized writ large to women seeking political office, then it's clear that women are no less different than men with regard to lording over others. Nor are they "less willing than men to perform the countless asinine stunts and soul-shriveling pandering necessary to win political office." Women, it seems to me, just have fewer opportunities to do so.

John Dewey May 30, 2008 at 10:50 am

Don Boudreaux: "Fewer women than men itch to lord it over others."

I don't often disagree with Professor Boudreaux, but this statement has me puzzled. In the corporate world I have seen little difference between male and female power accumulators. And I have seen just as many agressive women as men in recent years. So I wonder if the nature of men and women differ, as Don seems to suggest.

I have noticed, though, that motherhood seems to reduce the ambition of some women more than fatherhood does for men.

L Burke Files May 30, 2008 at 11:06 am

I have worked in many political campaigns. The difference in gender is starteling behind the doors – so to speak. Men are ready to fight and do what is necessary to win. Women try to appeal to voters logic. Both will go to the gray areas if behind, and take the moral high ground if ahead.

The error, voters have no logic. But they are predictable. They project what in thier mind is a leadership figure they want to see and than choose it. It is based upon their upbringing and not their logic / thought process. A leadership figure in childhood is the model they will use to choose a candidate in elections.

It is a most interesting thing to see from inside the different campaigns.

Decentcy Schmecency :-)

Burke

Per Kurowski May 30, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Good brownie points the first letter, they can always come in handy, just plain good points the second, though with the caveat, coming from an oil cursed country, that we should differentiate between countries were the oil is either in private hands or shared out in revenues directly to the citizens, and countries were oil revenues are used to make the governments economically wealthy independently of the citizens… and therefore obnoxiously arrogant, in the best of cases.

John Dewey May 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Over the 230 years the U.S. has existed, only 29 women have served as governors of states. But 8 of those women currently hold that office. So perhaps women were once "decent", as Don has suggested, but are rapidly becoming less so.

John Dewey May 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Clarification to my last post: I was referring to real women. As Governor Schwarzenegger has pointed out, there have scores of girly-men holding the various political offices of our nation.

Carzzi May 30, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Hmm… read John Lott's comment on the seeming correlation between women's suffrage and the growth of big government…
http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/FoxNewsBiasAgWPol052608.html

OregonGuy May 30, 2008 at 9:44 pm

I'm attempting to overcome the 18th–and 16th, 17th, 19th and 20th–century impulse to look for organizing rules for human behaviour.

From what I can tell from the current policy debate taking place over such issues as Carbon Cap and Trade, energy and marriage, each thing is best thought of as being a single point at a single point in time.

Rather than being hobbled by a set of inelastic rules, the future will be guided by a process known as Visioning. If enough people at any given time Vision a thing, that becomes the goal. Then legislation can be passed to mandate the goal of the Vision. Anyone not working to the mandated goal will be fined. Fines will be used for education. Education will allow us to reach our goals.

Oregon. We do things differently here.

Mayson Lancaster May 31, 2008 at 5:39 am

Of course, both the oil and housing crises stem largely from insane government subsidies and consumer short term thinking.

Mesa Econoguy May 31, 2008 at 11:45 am

Per, what the hell does this mean:

…coming from an oil cursed country, that we should differentiate between countries were the oil is either in private hands or shared out in revenues directly to the citizens…

?

How, exactly, is one "cursed" if one resides in a country with the world's largest GDP and highest standard of living, which utilizes oil?

That makes zero economic sense, and is quite a stupid assertion…

Eric May 31, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Mesa: Per was talking about the country he is from, not the one you're from. Parochial much?

Per Kurowski May 31, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Mesa: Per was talking about the country he is from, not the one you're from. Parochial much?
Posted by: Eric | May 31, 2008 12:47:14 PM

Yes, thank you Eric. I was talking about Venezuela where all the oil revenues are placed in a hugo chávez pocket so that can buy up those many that are for sale in my country and also those many that are for sale in other countries, like yours, like those who gladly without worrying about its provenance say yes to a bit of cheaper oil or make politics with it.

sethstorm June 1, 2008 at 1:15 am

i_am_a_lead_pencil:
Fine enough. Even if you were steering the question, I'll at least answer.

To answer the question, it would be moral relativism as the precept. Behind that is a desire for direct accountability. This also explains why action is desired now, and not down the road.

reginald musgrave June 2, 2008 at 7:09 pm

Doesn't the booming porno industry belie the claim that in general women are reluctant to perform "countless asinine stunts and soul-shriveling pandering"? Maybe the money's just not good enough in politics.

Brian-NJ June 2, 2008 at 10:17 pm

"women are less willing than men to perform the countless asinine stunts and soul-shriveling pandering necessary to win political office."

Well this is smoke blowing out your a$$, I disagree with this statement, while I may not disagree with the fact there are fewer woman in politics, I certainly wouldn't site this as a reason. I will assume this was a humorless joke.

Methinks June 6, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I offer a different reason: women are more decent than men….

women are less willing than men to perform the countless asinine stunts and soul-shriveling pandering necessary to win political office.

HA! BS, Professor. Obviously, as a man, you're not in the inner circle of women.

Women (if you'll pardon my generalizing, I'll pardon yours) are all about politics. I've rarely met a woman who says what she means and means what she says. They are masters of soul-shriveling pandering and asinine [political] stunts. I've never been in more treacherous waters than sitting in a circle of women. Women are mean girls.

This is why I prefer to work in with men in a male dominated industry. Men are aggressive but straight forward and I would trust my husband, my male friends and colleagues before almost any of the women that I know. And I am as rare a woman as a woman in politics – I am a female trader.

Please don't make sweeping asinine generalizations about the purity of women's souls. For one thing, women are individuals. Some of us are decent and some are b*tches. The reason more women don't go into trading, politics and other aggressive, male dominated professions are varied. The biggest reason is that these careers demand so much time and energy that they are not conducive to pregnancy (bearing children is physically difficult and dangerous). Often, women choose family over career if the career interferes too much. So, they tend to either drop or stay away from careers that are too demanding not because of decency but for practical reasons. Make no mistake, though, women are masters of politics. If they weren't master manipulators, how would you explain your impression that us (or is it "we"?) girls are all sweetness and decency?

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