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Archive for January 18th, 2011


Perception is not always reality

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about something Dr. Simmons said in class this morning, so I decided to post my thoughts here and see what you all think.

Dr. Simmons stated that negative externalities are over-produced and positive externalities are under-produced. This seems like a reasonable enough statement, but in thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder if we only perceive a higher quantity of negative externalities. These ideas stem directly from a book I recently read titled “The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley. Within his book he states that “people are programmed to desire, not to appreciate.” In a society filled with entitlement, pessimism, and victimization, I am prone to think that positive externalities may be just a common as negative externalities; we just fail to appreciate and recognize them. Each of you provides a positive externality for me with your presence in class. If none of you registered for this class, it probably wouldn’t be taught just for me. Your blog posts and comments in class also provide a positive externality for me because I am able to consider different viewpoints and learn more than I otherwise could. Perhaps this is a cheesy example, but hopefully you get the idea.

Then again, perhaps Dr. Simmons’ statement doesn’t so much refer to the quantity produced, but rather the dichotomy between what is demanded and what is produced.