Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Alchemy and Pretention

Having gotten a terribly piddling amount of sleep last night, I intended to go to bed nice and early tonight.

Then Dan and I got into an argument about something that wasn't really an argument, but activated all of my argument-nerves or whatever, and then spent an hour processing and discussing that, which then, inevitably, moved into another argument. And now, at midnight, here I am, with a post still to write.

Sleep. The first casualty of an unhappy relationship.

Part of me wants to go off in this direction: talking about how strange it is that Dan and I are this bad even when we're not that bad at all, and you, figuring out what the hell I mean by that. Talking about the point I was making about how he writes off a lot of my behaviors as abnormal when they're really just female, and then talking about how he gets frustrated by my use of "stereotypes" and "generalizations." Talking about how I honestly can't stand people who play the "stereotypes" and "generalizations" card: there are legitimate differences between (most) men and (most) women. These differences evolved from having very separate biological functions and everything that goes along with that.

By and large, the men in my life understand this and accept it as fact. There are many women in my life that don't. (I'm sure I'm misrepresenting them here. So, blah blah blah, sociology, socialization, insert their whole argument here. It's not an invalid argument. But it's my blog, and I'm the one who has to get to sleep, so I don't want to spend twenty minutes here playing devil's advocate in full, fair representation of a whole group of feminists who will never read this.)

My point, I guess, the point I was trying to get around to NOT making, is this: women and men are biologically different, for very important reasons. That biology is incredibly powerful. In this, and in all things, it frustrates me when people put on airs and think that we have somehow transcended our biology. We have not. We are animals. We are the sum of our animal parts, and we our driven by our chemicals and hormones and the instincts they create. Don't be pretentious: we are just mammals that wear fancy clothes and walk upright.

I am a feminist in so much as I don't think there is any moral righteousness in acting one way because you were born that way. But I do think that some things are fundamentally more feminine, and some things are fundamentally more masculine. Large emotional range? That's a pretty feminine trait, in my mind.

This is all totally separate from the only thing I actually meant to come on here to write, which was this interesting point I made about economics. Dan and I were in an argument-- or actually, in a post-argument discussion-- about money. He was making the point (roughly, and this wasn't the whole thing) that money is math, and that math has a right and wrong answer.

I made the counter point that money isn't math: money is economics. And then I made the point that I've tried to make to many people, many times, since I stumbled upon an understanding of it, somewhere during the first hundred episodes of NPR's Planet Money Podcast: Economics isn't solely  about money. Economics isn't solely about math.

Economics it about worth, it's about value. It's about what one will trade on one side to gain on the other side. I remember once that my uncle was saying that he would be willing to buy a hybrid if his company would give him an economic incentive for doing so. I told him that he already had plenty of economic incentive, beyond the financial, if he cares about the other benefits of driving a hybrid: namely cleaner air and water and earth and blah blah blah. (And yes, for the rare reader who might quibble here, I get that the environmental benefits of a hybrid are highly controversial when considering the production of the battery, etc.. Not my point here: stay on task, imaginary, haughty environmentalist reader!)

My point to my uncle was that economic benefit is not the same as financial benefit, because any and all positive effects of driving a hybrid might help to equal out the equation where he decides to spend more on buying one. Little to know, I was barking up the wrong tree-hugger: my uncle, it seems, votes Republican, and all the stunning environmental polices that go along with it.

But back to what I said earlier. I was explaining to him that money is not math, money is economics. It's not about numbers as much as it is about obtaining balance. It's about equivalent exchange.

Economics isn't math. Economics is alchemy.

I'm sure any future economists who wander into this post equally likely to nod in thoughtful agreement or vomit. But any Full Metal fans who stop by will probably be so excited they squirt their juice boxes all over their Pokemon cards, so I got that going for me. (Someone remind me to make a mash-up illustration of John Maynard Keynes with an automail arm. That level of obscurity would gain me some serious points with like, one Econ major in a suburb of Cincinatti.)

Either way, as I said it, it occurred to me it sounded a little profound. So I thought I'd write a post about it.

I, too, wear fancy clothes and walk upright. So sue me.

Day 28. On with it.