Published: February 16 2007 17:11 | Last updated: February 16 2007 17:11
My stepfather is an alcoholic and spends his time and money on nothing but self-intoxication. This results in me experiencing great anger and wanting to do something stupidly aggressive.
My mother has less and less money to run the house. I no longer live there but will soon have to contribute money to prevent my mother entering a downward spiral of debt. How do I control an alcoholic who is content only with a bottle in his hand? How do I solve the financial problem? How do I stop myself becoming wound up by my stepfather’s actions?
Name and address supplied
Your stepfather is addicted to alcohol, but your real problem is that your mother is addicted to your stepfather and you are addicted to her. There are economic ideas about how to break an unwanted addiction (Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling coined the phrase “egonomics”) but they presuppose that the addict wants to kick the habit. It does not sound as if any of you actually wishes to break his or her respective addiction, which would make them “rational addictions”, as theorised by Gary Becker, another laureate, and Kevin Murphy. Taking into account all the costs and benefits, each of you would prefer to stay addicted.
You should therefore not be focusing on addictions but externalities. Your stepfather is imposing a grievous cost on you and your mother but not offering any compensation. Ronald Coase - yet another laureate - suggested that externalities could be bargained away. You could just pay your stepfather to stop drinking, or he could pay you to stop complaining about it. The problem is that Coase’s theorem requires that you are able to negotiate without costs in time, trouble or embarrassment. In your case, alas, this seems unlikely.
Tim Harford (trust me he's an economist gsn :P) geed unuu "Freakonomics" ene ter shig ediin zasgiin onoluudaar udur tutmiin amidraliig tailbarlah gej orolddog neg nuhur bii. Hervee bi buruu sanaaguy bol Oxford tugssun baih. Anh Hashaa-giin bichlegiig huuj yavsaar baigaad mani eriin bichleguudtey anh taniltsaj bilee, hehe. Odoo bol niitlel buriig ni ali boloh algasalguy unshihiig boddog bolson. Harford yamar ch hun oilgohoor mash engiin goyo bichlegiin helberteyn deer asar complex zuilsiig ediin zasgiin onol ashiglan mash urnaar tailbarladag. Tegeed ta buhend hervee bolomj oldvol doloo honog bur tuunii Financial Times deer hutuldug column-iig unshij baihiig zuvluyu.
Aan tiim, sayhan tuunii "Undercover Economist" geed nom garsan. Nomiin delguurt hartal jaahan huuhdiin comics ene ter shig sanagdahaar ni avaaguy yum. Bolomj garval olj unshnaa :D