What depressing truths my ECON class taught me about people

I’m taking a Economics/Statistics course this semester called “The Power of Data,” and it’s been dishing out some depressing truths about society.

We just finished a unit on the Affordable Care Act, and we learned that affordable health care for everybody doesn’t actually make people any healthier (at least for the monstrous sum of money we spent on the whole production). I bet this is another one of those situations where policies look great on the drawing board, but end up gumming up the entire machine in practice. Also this course has taught me that– god– people are such slippery weasels. Adverse selection? Tragedy of the Commons? Gosh, no wonder perfect systems crash and burn whenever humans start running the show…

I imagine economists or policy makers getting really frustrated with humanity because they understand human behavior in terms of streamlined mathematical and game theory-esque scenarios, and too often see their well-intended models fail in practice. Either people are constantly making dumb choices as a result of an inadequate education, people don’t like following rules, or human nature is just so complex that the real outcomes don’t always meet the intended ones.

For a second, I wondered what the world would be like if people would stop being so driven by self interest, follow all laws and rules obediently and without question, and make sacrifices readily for the betterment of society as a whole. The problem with this? It’s immoral. We have human rights!

Don’t get me wrong though. For me, this is wildly fun to think about. It’s pretty sad, and pretty hilarious that we’re always gonna try to write up beautifully simple rules and models to make the world better, and we’re gonna fail at it pretty much every time.

(this video here is yet another example of how a bunch of old men wearing suits contesting in a congress building failed to do the world any good)

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Writer, Cog-Neuro Research Assistant @ Yale. Presenting my thoughts about self-development and life as a former college student || gloriawfeng.com

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