Friday, September 16, 2005

Do We Really Want an Investigation?

I keep hearing on the news and radio that people are demanding a full-scale investigation into why the government response to Hurricane Katrina was so poor. People should be held accountable for their actions, but my faith in government conducting a thorough investigation of government is a bit lacking. Combine that with the cost of an investigation and I'm pretty sure it's not such a great deal after all.

So why do we demand investigations?

Truth be told, I don't think we really do. When we voice our "demands" without taking into account the costs and benefits of those demands, we're only expressing wishes unconstrained by our willingness to pay.

For example, if I were asked whether I'd like a brand new Ferrari, I'd say yes. This is a wish that does not take into account the cost of the Ferrari. However, if I were at the dealership and they handed me a piece of paper to sign stating that I wanted the car, I'd say no. Why? Did I lie the first time when I said I wanted a Ferrari? There exists a price where I would be willing to purchase a Ferrari (e.g. my desire for a Ferrari can be valued at some amount), but at prices above that, I am not willing to make the tradeoff. When I choose to keep my money and not buy the Ferrari, I am effectively saying that I would rather keep my money to buy other things of more value to me.

Still, I'd rather see a brand new Ferrari in my driveway than a politician getting a slap on the wrist.

No comments: