...together with a menu of exercises designed, so far as I can tell, to explore ways of scamming people out of it. Now strictly speaking, I am no great fan of rent control: I think it often does more (social) harm than good. But "luck"? Why is rent control more a "lucky break" than being born blond, beautiful, Norwegian and blessed with great ski-jumping skills? More particularly, Mankiw operates out of a cohort that spends all its time telling us about the evils of envy and class warfare--wouldn't he want to go slow on promoting the same? I admit I've got friends in New York rent-stabilized apartments who delight in their privileged position, thankyouverymuch. Maybe I've got other friends who, say, bought apartments in the East 60s back in the Dinkins administration when those puppies were going for $65k a pop, tops. I suppose Mankiw might want me to think that those buyers (as distinct from those renters) were operating out of pluck and foresight and deserve every penny of the appreciation that they've enjoyed. I doubt it. I suspect that most of them were hard-working strivers who wanted to live in a nice place (considering) and got, well, lucky. Does Mankiw spend a class hour trying to delegitimatize their hold on good fortune, to figuring out ways of clawing it back from them? Can we look forward to a chapter on
The Luck of Not Having Cerebral Palsey
Well? Why not? There's an episode of the Larry Sanders Show where they talk about a guy who "enjoys," if you can call it that, a handicapped parking space. It's Hank the clueless sidekick who provides the episode's moral compass: "well what did that guy ever do to deserve it," asks Hank, "except dive into an empty swimming pool?" Yes, it's edgy, but the calculus doesn't seem a bit different.