Another interesting problem is raised by vice effects involving envy. Envy wisely got a very strong condemnation in the laws of Moses. You remember how they laid it on with a trowel: You couldn't covet thy neighbor's ass, you couldn't covet thy neighbor's servant girl, you couldn't covet…. Those old Jews knew how envious people are and how much trouble it caused. They really laid it on hard, and they were right. But Mandeville - remember his fable of bees? He demonstrated convincingly - to me, anyway - that envy was a great driver of proclivity to spend. And so, here's this terrible vice, which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments, and here it's driving all these favorable results in economics. There's some paradox in economics that nobody's going to get out.

When I was young, everybody was excited by Godel, who came up with proof that you couldn't have a mathematical system without a lot of irritating incompleteness in it. Well, since then, my betters tell me that they've come up with more irremovable defects in mathematics and have decided that you're never going to get mathematics without some paradox in it. No matter how hard you work, you're going to have to live with some paradox if you're a mathematician.

Well, if the mathematicians can't get the paradox out of their system when they're creating it themselves, the poor economists are never going to get rid of paradoxes, nor are any of the rest of us. It doesn't matter. Life is interesting with some paradox. When I run into a paradox, I think either I'm a total horse's ass to have gotten to this point, or I'm fruitfully near the edge of my discipline. It adds excitement to life to wonder which it is.

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