Academics Find a New Target: “Workaholism”

A new article from Ed Hudgins begins:

Governments often get their wealth-destroying, morally depraved ideas from our often misnamed institutes of “higher learning.” The latest that’s popping up in bulletins, newsletters, and probably soon in legislation is from a 2005 study on “The Economics of Workaholism,” co-authored by Joel Slemrod of the University of Michigan and Daniel Hammermesh of the University of Texas in Austin.

The study starts by stating that “Economists have recently re-considered whether a range of individual behaviors are self-destructive, and possibly addictive, and have proposed that it may be Pareto-superior to tax them in order to induce people to abandon or cut back on them.”

“Pareto superior” is an economic term that refers to some alternative distribution of wealth or resources that makes some individuals better off and no one else worse off. In this context the term means that would-be philosopher-kings pretend to know what’s good for us and what is not and are probably poised to grab our freedom or our wallets and have their way with us.

Sure enough the authors go on to say, “The focus of this ‘new paternalism,’ associated with the burgeoning field of behavioral economics, has been on a set of activities (smoking, drinking, overeating, and gambling, in particular) â?¦ and on public policy responses in the form of ‘sin taxes’ that are highly regressive.” The authors go on to state, “Here we begin to explore the economic implications of a self-destructive behavior that is likely to be more prevalent among affluent people — workaholism.”

See the full article for more.