User:Dweller/Dweller's Lungs Economics

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Dweller's Lungs Economics is a principle of economics, first outlined in 2010.

It states that there are commodities (such as Dweller's lungs) for which the price remains equal to "priceless", regardless of circumstances.

As such, Dweller's lungs (and similar commodities) are exempt from the usual laws of price elasticity and inelasticity.

In short, no matter how much demand there is (whether zero, one or even infinite) the price for a set of Dweller's lungs remains "priceless". Dweller would theoretically turn down an offer of infinite money, particularly given that there are no guarantees of shopping in the afterlife, however it may manifest.

Note that the "s" in the word "lungs" is of peculiarly important importance.

Commentary[edit]

Supply-and-demand.svg

User:SteveBaker wishes to point out that the devil is in the details. Consider for example:

  1. Delivery date: Should the delivery date for said lungs be set (let us say) in the year 2110, with invoice payment due in full next week - then the aforementioned commodities could very well attain a real (albeit small) price.
  2. Terms and conditions of purchase: It should be possible to specify certain contractual obligations on the purchaser - such as (for example) the requirement to leave the lungs inside the person of User:Dweller. With sufficient care, it might be possible to negotiate reasonable terms for the transfer of ownership of these organs. (See also: The Merchant of Venice).
  3. The law of Supply and demand applies here. The law states that "The price P of a product is determined by a balance between production at each price (supply S) and the desires of those with purchasing power at each price (demand D)." We know that the production of Dweller lungs has been zero for a considerable number of years so S=0. The present owner represents a concrete demand for two units so D=2. Sadly, economists have a penchant for graphs with no numbers on the axes. (See right) which puts them right up there with philosophers as purveyors of useless information. What the heck you do with the red and blue curves on the graph in order to determine P (measured in 2010 US$) is a complete mystery. This speaks a lot to the problems of the financial world.

SteveBaker (talk) 04:19, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Genius. I look forward to an economist's response. --Dweller (talk) 13:47, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Heh. You will have to forgive me, I've only got pretty low level economics qualifications, so I'm 99% certain to be overruled, but I may be able to address a few of the more minor details. Firstly, I should make it clear that, in general, economics applies to markets, and are therefore generalisations. The best comparison that comes to mind is that of half life: after x minutes, you'll have ~50% less. Great. But what only if you only have one radioactive atom? Now the system starts to break down. And, hence, why we have the problem here.
Now, to respond to your third point. "We know that the production of Dweller lungs has been zero for a considerable number of years so S=0." Mmm. Really, "production" is a bad word to use. No more Van Goghs are being produced, but you can still create a supply schedule for them. In other words, "being made available for sale" is a much better wording. S could therefore equal 0, 1, or 2.
Yeah, sure economists do. It's their basis in mathematics - particularly, mathematical formulae. But to get back to the point, you can put real numbers of those axes. This is how I would go about proposing the economic argument. Firstly, to pick up on one of your points, Steve, we must discard Dweller's own "demand" for his organs. [break] Okay, I've just tried drawing a diagram like that one on the right, but really, it's discrete to a point where it's much simpler to think about it without using a diagram. If the cost to Dweller of making his first lung available for sale is greater than (or equal to) what the market will pay for it, he won't sell. Ditto for the second. Did we decide that you could live on one lung? If so, then one can model that, and you would find that Dweller would sell his first lung if the price was great enough, but not his second (i.e. as is intuitive). I hope that rambling helps :) - Jarry1250 [Humorous? Discuss.] 18:12, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm also not sure how you conclude that the price is infinite.

  1. There is a market for cocaine and an associated market price, even though it's not legal to purchase in my country. Similarly, there is a market for assassination. Surely for the right [finite] price, Dweller's lungs could be procured.
  2. People have been known to fall on a grenade to save the lives of their squadmates (paying, among other things, their lungs for the lives of their comrades). User:Dweller may not be so altruistic, but it's at least plausible that there are sufficiently extreme circumstances that might yield a finite price.
  3. The argument implicitly assumes that Dweller's life is of positive utility (to Dweller). But there are circumstances under which a person assigns a negative value to one's own life; in these circumstances, the price of Dweller's lungs might be not only finite but small (possibly negative).
  4. The market for life insurance (and the existence of wills, etc.) shows that it is not uncommon for people to assign positive utility to events occurring after their death.
  5. User:SteveBaker has already discussed the importance of delivery. Arrow–Debreu generalized goods, like "Dweller's lungs for 2110 delivery", can surely have finite prices.

CRGreathouse (t | c) 19:56, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

" What the heck you do with the red and blue curves on the graph in order to determine P (measured in 2010 US$) is a complete mystery. " - you estimate them empirically from real world data.Volunteer Marek (talk) 06:50, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Further reading[edit]