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On Andy Rooney, Gambling, Lady Gaga And The Huffington Post…

May 17th, 2010 · 7 Comments
Econ 101 · Macroeconomics

My best friend posted this on Facebook last week:

Andy Rooney: ‘I Don’t Know Who Lady Gaga Is’

Andy Rooney waxed on Lady Gaga and the country’s other pop music stars Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” saying that the rise of singers he’s never heard of has driven home to him that he’s out of the American mainstream.

“I consider myself to be an absolutely dead-center, normal average American,” Rooney said. “The things I write and read on television are for regular, normal, average everyday Americans….My question then is this: if I’m so average America, how come I’ve never heard of most of the musical groups that millions of other Americans apparently are listening to?”

Now, my friend may have posted with with the caption “Just die already,” so my natural inclination was to try and be a little less harsh. However, I made the mistake of watching 60 Minutes last night (it was on after the Celtics game), and any charitable attitude I had towards Andy Rooney was quickly swept away by his vast misunderstanding of how the economy works.

On the up side, his ignorance got me a Huffington Post article out of the deal. An excerpt:

Where Rooney really gets it wrong is in his claim that, at casinos, “people fritter away money so they don’t get to spend it on things that someone else has been paid to produce.” The reality is that, according to the same report that Rooney quotes, the U.S. gambling industry employed 328,377 people in 2009 and paid wages of $13.1 billion. These numbers make it hard to refute the fact that the money that people are supposedly frittering away is actually spent on entertainment services that people are in fact paid to produce. Moreover, the claim that “there’s only so much money in the world and if it’s lost at a gambling table, it’s money that isn’t spent on things America makes” is completely unrepresentative of how the economy actually works.

You should go read the article…mainly because I have something to say, but also so that the lovely people at the Huffington Post can be fooled into thinking that people actually want to read what I write. 🙂

Tags: Econ 101 · Macroeconomics

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tim // May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Jody Jody Jody…where do I begin?

    Let me sum: Americans don’t buy things Americans make. Americans buy things OTHER people make.

    Other than that, well done! You should try linking that with short blog posts at some conservative sites that appreciate economics.

  • 2 Rev. Pfloyd // May 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Well, it’s only a political boundary. . . . States are political boundaries too. 😉

  • 3 Avid Reader of EDIWM // May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm


    I’m concerned…did you submit this article to HuffPost, or did the Huff post ask you to write for them? I think you can do better than Huff Post.

    EDIWM Fan

  • 4 Dennis Delay // May 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I have been struggling and researching this
    question for six months. Jodi is correct. Slot
    players take home about 90 % of what they
    put into the machines. Compare that to what
    you take home after attending a Red Sox game
    Yes there are social costs to gambling, but the
    range of those estimates is very wide.

  • 5 Dan L // May 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Ooh, you’re a big timer now!

    You probably shouldn’t get in the habit of watching Andy Rooney, or else you’ll end up complaining about him every damn week.

    But in Andy’s defense (yuck), he wasn’t really making an economic argument. He’s making a value judgment between running a factory and running a casino. Just because economics sees an equivalence between these activities, that doesn’t make his opinion nonsensical (whether you agree with it or not). Or in other words, consider the question: Would the world be better off without casinos? Economics cannot answer this question.

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