Daily Archives: November 18, 2013

Movies that understand economics # 14: The Darwin Awards

The Darwin Awards

I will not be surprised if you missed this movie. While it is based on something we all love, The Darwin Awards, those delightful and often unbelievable tales of idiots removing themselves from the gene pool through gross stupidity, the movie which attempted to follow them comes up a little short.

Since you probably haven’t seen it let me give you a quick summary. The film follows Michael Burrows (Joseph Fiennes) a former police profiler, after losing his job, tries to get a job at an insurance firm by showing them they can refine their models for risk by finding common denominators between the Darwin Award winners who cost the insurance company millions every year.  He is joined by an insurance investigator (Winona Ryder) as they investigate several Darwin Awards cases looking for the common thread between all of them. Sadly most of the Darwins they investigate are the famous urban legend versions of the Darwins (such as the famous JATO rocket incident) rather than real Darwins even though they’re presented as real in the film.

And it is this attempt to create a profile for an insurance company that the economics comes in.   The point of creating such a profile, if one were possible, (I’m not sure one is, but I would almost bet that for the next few years Obama, Santorum, Paul, and Gary Johnson voters will make up a disproportionate amount of Darwin Award winners*), it would be for the creation of an actuarial table.  This table would be used to set new rates for people with these risk factors, rates that would be higher so as to ensure that people with these factors either survive or at least pay enough that they don’t cost the insurance company their profits.

Now, right about now I can hear some people gasping with shock that the evil really mean and bad insurance companies would actually charge the idiots that really insurance more for their insurance. Dry reason that they actually need insurance. To which I respond: duh.   What did you think, insurance was somehow different than every other business in the world. They’re out to make money.  Every business is out to make money.  If it’s life insurance then they’re betting that you will live longer than you’re insured for and you’re betting that if things go wrong your family will be taken care of.  And they adjust your premiums to reflect how much of a risk you are so to ensure that even if they do lose their bet and you die prematurely, they still will make a profit.  It’s the only reason they do what they do.
Now some fool out there is probably thinking, but I have a right to health insurance, it’s not there just for some business to make money.  Again, I respond: No you don’t and that is the ONLY reason they do what they do.  You do not have a right to anything provided by someone else…if it’s provided by someone else you only have the right to negotiate with them trading one thing of value for another.  Health insurance especially because you don’t have the right to tell doctors, nurses, drug companies, medical equipment companies and all the rest you shouldn’t have to pay them for the time and energy and study and research they have put in just because you want something.

But, but, but…those actuarial table make prices so high, the whine goes.  Wrong.  What made those health care prices so high is the HMO’s the government created which ruined the system set down in those actuarial tables**.

The point here, as is made reasonably clear is that the insurance companies aren’t evil.  Just like you they’re trying to make an honest living, and due to that they will hold you to the agreement you made and, just like you, will try to get the most out of it that they can.  And as Adam Smith showed us by both looking out for their own interests everyone benefits.

*Yes I really do think they’re all that stupid.

**And let’s keep in mind those HMO’s were created to solve problems created by the Great Society of LBJ, which were attempting to fix problems that at their core were caused by the New Deal, which was trying to fix problems caused by Hoover and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which was attempting to fix problems caused by bad policy by the Fed…notice a pattern here?  Doesn’t solve problems, it attempts to solve problems it created and only ends up creating more problems.

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Filed under Economics, Movies, Movies for Conservatives

Monthly Meditation: Pray that everyone reaches enlightenment

 

Enlightenment If you have to pray for something, pray that you and everyone you know reaches Enlightenment as quickly as possible.

Wish everyone the best. At all times in all circumstances. Wish them what is best for the development of those souls.

Every person you meet, without exception.

 

Yes I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it’s not.

 

This point came to me recently when my best friend applied for an internship on the other side of the country. An internship that could very well lead to a full time position. Now while I want the best for my friend, it’s just a little hard to pray that someone you care about moves away.  So at least at a surface level there appears to be a Contradiction. Hence my resolution that I will pray for what is best for her path toward Enlightenment.

 

By praying for this I do not face the contradiction of having to choose between praying for my friend’s happiness or her company.   I don’t have to feel guilty about the very human desire to want to spend time with those you care about. I don’t even have to worry about the outcome, or judge it as good or bad because I have prayed for the best of all possible ends for my friend and be comfortable in any outcome because I know enough to know that no matter what happens in the next day, week, year, or even lifetime I know that minor setbacks or victories can always be necessary steps toward ultimate bliss.

And as an added bonus it works as a prayer for people you dislike as much as ones you care for. If there is a truly terrible person in your life pray that they reach Enlightenment quickly as well. Think about it, if your assessment of a person is accurate and they are as terrible as you think then the only ways for them to reach Enlightenment is either they will experience some kind of spiritual revelation that will radically change their outlook and behavior…or what is far more likely for this kind of wretched person to get closer to Enlightenment is for karma to come calling to collect on all those terrible things they have done. Let the joy of the Schadenfreude wash over you for a second…and now realize you never wished them harm or discomfort, only Enlightenment…so none of the negativity that would come from wishing harm to another is attached to you, if harm befell them it’s their own damn fault for incurring that karma, you merely wished them to progress on their journey.  By focusing on the final end you don’t have to worry about the intermediary stops, and you never have to be worried about whether or not your prayers have been answered or not as you can merely assume that they are being answered and you just can’t see far enough down the road to see how the pieces fit together.

 

If you only pray for yourself and that for others what happens is in the best interest of everyone reaching Enlightenment as quickly as possible (actually the universe already tries to do this but because people become fixated on wrong ends they make the journey unnecessarily longer and more complicated) we never have to be worried about  how everything turns out, we never have to give into our egos and wish ill on others, and we can rest assured that no matter what, we wish the absolute best for those around us.

 

I pray that whatever events occur it is the best interest of you reaching Enlightenment with as little delay as possible.

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Filed under Faith, God, Meditation, New Age, Religion, Spirituality