April 29, 2010

"What’s an externality?"

"My friends tell me that in the Vondelpark, a delightful reserve in central Amsterdam, it is illegal to let your dog off a leash. But it’s perfectly legal to have sex in the park, so long as it is not in view of a children’s playground. The argument is that the dog may make a mess that imposes costs on the unwary walker, while the couple imposes no costs on other park users. I wonder which of these two actions would be more likely to be outlawed in the U.S. Implicitly, how do attitudes toward negative externalities, as expressed in city ordinances, differ between the U.S. and the Netherlands—or among other Western countries?"

34 comments:

ET1492 said...

If you were having sex on the ground in a park, would you want other people's dogs on leashes or off?

If you were walking barefoot in a park, would you rather step in dog excrement or strangers' sex goo?

paul a'barge said...

Guess who the only people are who want to have sex in public parks?

Gays.

Get a freakin' room, already.

David said...

I'll explain this after someone explains the following headline in the Friday NYT:

"Europe Acts Swiftly on Long Delayed Greek Bailout."

Huh?

Enjoy the weekend. The world may look a lot different on Monday.

shoutingthomas said...

Slightly off topic... but,

Given the burgeoning Muslim population of Amsterdam, gays are risking their lives screwing in the park.

Theo Van Gogh was murdered on the streets in Amsterdam.

I think I'd outlaw unleashed dogs, and publicly screwing gays.

David said...

Last time I stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam (with my wife), the two guys in the room were having audio control problems. L-O-U-D.

I should have said, "Get a Park."

Joe said...

I wonder which of these two actions would be more likely to be outlawed in the U.S.

What a moronic question. I doubt having sex in a public park is legal anywhere in the U.S.. There are many parks where dogs are allowed to run without leashes.

Is this author really that stupid?

Beldar said...

I suppose that at least among adults of normal sensitivities, whether that particular externality is a negative one depends on how attractive one finds the lovemakers.

WV: stsemis ... vaguely religious and procreative

Fred4Pres said...

How delightfully libertine of those Dutch. At least until you make a reference against Mohammed and some guy runs up and jams a kitchen knife into your chest with a note about jihad.

Fred4Pres said...

Although a lot of Muslims hate unleashed dogs as much as open sex in the park...so who knows? Maybe this is some sort of Dutch compromise.

themightypuck said...

Since many Americans believe in the wrath of God (Methodists anyway and Pat Robertson) sex in public parks, especially gay sex, will likely lead to negative externalities like earthquakes and volcanoes and plagues of locusts.

Skookum John said...

I expect that the set of people who would be willing to have sex in a public park in broad daylight has only an infinitesimal intersection with the set of people I would care to see doing so.

I think the law should forbid such shenanigans to all people except non-butchy lesbians whose age and BMI are both less than 25.

economic said...

really this post is excellent.
Given the burgeoning Muslim population of Amsterdam, gays are risking their lives screwing in the park.
Anyway thanks for sharing.
goji berry

edutcher said...

When homosexual activists want to add a city to their list of places where they run the show, the organize group sex in public places, such as parks, expecting to go Alinsky on anyone who objects. This is how they created 'The Gay Riviera' in Florida. I guess the Gray Lady is cool with that.

ET1492 said...

If you were having sex on the ground in a park, would you want other people's dogs on leashes or off?

If you were walking barefoot in a park, would you rather step in dog excrement or strangers' sex goo?


Which will give you a disease?

themightypuck said...

Since many Americans believe in the wrath of God (Methodists anyway and Pat Robertson) sex in public parks, especially gay sex, will likely lead to negative externalities like earthquakes and volcanoes and plagues of locusts.

No, only boobs do that. Or support sodomy in public places.

Ron said...

So if I have sex with a leashed dog it's ok? But if I have the leash, it's not? Clearly the Dutch are indifferent to the bondage vote...

Paul Zrimsek said...

the couple imposes no costs on other park users

This is equivalent to saying that there is not a single park user who would pay money to be rid of them-- highly unlikely. (In positive economics, a thing is an externality if there's anyone who experiences it as an uncompensated cost, regardless of whether you think they ought to feel that way about it. Pop economics tends to be more judgmental than that.)

VW: bilema. Should I cheat on my girlfriend with another woman, or cheat on my boyfriend with another man?

MadisonMan said...

Curious, I clicked the excrement tag. There are lots of posts concerning excrement.

MadisonMan said...

Or maybe I should say, Holy Sh!t there are lot of excrement posts!

I'd rather step in sex goo. (Someone asked). Dog feces attract rats.

A.W. said...

I think the best definition of an externality is a lazy excuse for a law and eoonomics type to justify big government intervention.

The lamest version of that is Ian Ayers claiming that if you use a laptop in class, and you surfed the web to a site unrelated to class, it would discourage other students, thus, ta-da! an externality!

Erik said...

Having lived in Amsterdam for a number of years, I can assure you that the sidewalks, streets and playgrounds are absolutely littered with canine externalities.

And I've certainly seen more unleashed dogs than happy loving couples in the Vondelpark.

Daniel Fielding said...

The gay activist, Bruce Bawer has written articles about how gangs of young muslim guys go through public parks, public bathrooms, and other places gays congregate at, in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities and towns, beating the hell out of gay men. And being gay, the guys getting beaten, dont fight back, so the muslims get away with it.
No Pink Pistols groups in Amsterdam, I guess.

EDH said...

I think I've commented about this before in "Massachusettes."

New Rules Alter Line Drawn on Public Sex
Boston Globe, March 2, 2001

Massachusetts State Police will not automatically roust people meeting at roadside rest areas—even people believed to be engaging in sexual activity, according to new guidelines disclosed yesterday.

Having sex in public places such as rest areas, beaches, and parks would not be considered illegal if the activity was adequately hidden from view, according to the two-page order.

The policy was issued to settle a lawsuit brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders on behalf of a gay man who was banned from highway rest stops on Cape Cod. Gays have long complained that they are harassed by police when they gather in public places, said Mary Bonauto, who represented GLAD in the case.

"This order, included in the [State Police] policy manual, is an incredibly positive first step," said Bonauto.

"This is major," said Captain Robert Bird, a State Police spokesman. "The State Police don’t want to infringe upon anybody’s rights and I think this order will help clarify exactly what those rights are."

The plaintiff in the case, called John Doe in court papers, had been convicted a year earlier for having sex with another man in the woods next to a Wareham rest stop.

"We’re not making specific accusations," Bonauto said, "but troopers need to be aware that just because they see something doesn’t mean it’s public activity and a criminal offense — far from it."

The new rules codify informal ones issued by State Police in October 1999, after Middlesex Superior Court Judge Wendie Gershengorn barred police from expelling the Cape man, who is 57, from rest areas.

Bird said yesterday that the new policy "instructs our troopers to follow the way the Supreme Judicial Court has interpreted the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

The rules make clear that "socializing and expressions of affection" are not considered sexual conduct. And public sexual conduct is not illegal unless there is a "substantial risk" that the conduct will be observed by a casual passerby, the order says.

"There’s a difference between doing it on a pitcher’s mound in the middle of the day and obviously taking steps to secret yourself," said Bonauto.

However, one police source yesterday called the new policy "ludicrous" and predicted troopers will continue to roust gay people from parks and rest stops.

"These rules are lawyer psychobabble," said the source. "They won’t change anyone’s behavior. If someone is doing that in a public place, a rest area, where passersby have access, it isn’t right. And this is not going to change any [trooper’s] approach to enforcing the law."

shoutingthomas said...

A good time to talk a little reality about the supposed "oppression" of gays in America.

My closest friend for the past 30 years is a HIV positive gay man who lives the sort of sex life you would expect in Manhattan.

He is no sissy. He's Charles Atlas. His workout regime is spectacular. At the age of 55, he looks like a Greek god.

He doesn't muscle up just for aesthetic purposes. The gay life of mating with a different partner every weekend is fraught with danger.

This is where the "oppression" business is such a lie. It's not hetero men that gay men fear. It's other gay men. When you're getting naked with a different stranger every weekend, you are exposing yourself to considerable risk of being attacked.

The attempt of gay activists to pin the blame for this on "homophobia" and hetero men is damnable. The worst example of this I've ever seen is "Brokeback Mountain," a vicious propaganda motive also designed to deflect the blame onto hetero men. Every generation of kids seems to buy into this lie that hetero men are prosecuting a war of terror on gay men. It's a crock.

Now that a real, as opposed to imaginary, threat to gays exists... the jihadists... I wonder if the stupid rhetoric about "oppression" and "homophobia" in the West will cease.

Don said...

Well I guess just so long as they are using orange condoms. Fijne Koninginnedag! Happy Queen's Day!

Michael said...

"Guess who the only people are who want to have sex in public parks?

Gays."

I had sex in a public park, and it wasn't gay.

It was also one in the morning, though. I do have some sense of decorum.

Maybe people could have sex in the park if they're required to carry a little dogbone-shaped dispenser of blue plastic bags to clean up after themselves.

SteveR said...

Sex in a park is overrrated.

Original Mike said...

"In economics, an externality is a cost or benefit not transmitted through prices"

Alex, I'll take ObamaCare for 20.

Moose said...

Don't they call that "dogging" in the UK?

Tibore said...

"SteveR said...
Sex in a park is overrrated."


Sex while parked, however, is a rite of passage. ;)

(*ducks*)

Paul said...

This is one of the stupider comments I've seen recently, one obviously made by someone who's never walked around any actual parks frequented by actual couples having actual sex -- because if you think piles of used condoms are less disgusting than piles of dog poop, you obviously have no idea what you're talking about.

Think: how long is a pile of dog crap nasty for -- a day or two? Depends on the weather, sure. But let's say by around day four or five, you wouldn't really be that disgusted by it, even if you accidentally trod on it. Because (let's all say this together, kids), "it's organic and is very quickly broken down into odorless, harmless compost!" (It even does the soil some good.)

A used condom, on the other hand, will last for months and months, and eventually breaks down into a gooey mass that will stick to the bottom of your shoe like used chewing gum.

Sheesh!

E.M. Davis said...

But do I have to keep my lover on a leash? or off?

Europe is so confusing.

Paul Zrimsek said...

CURB YOUR BITCH.

Gabriel Hanna said...

In San Francisco you can be fined if you're dog takes a crap on the street, but you cannot be fined if YOU take a crap on the street (if you're homeless anyway).

A park where people routinely show up to have sex and leave condoms everywhere is not a park I would care to frequent, or take my kids to. Neither would I care to take my kids to a park where people shoot up, even though their shooting up doesn't inconvenience me as much as this guy thinks dog crap does. Or a park where people go to drink or smoke pot.

It's because of the type of people you find doing these things in public.

May be different in the Netherlands. Just like the people in Germany who drink before noon are a totally different bunch of people from Americans who drink before noon.

rhhardin said...

In the 50s, dog poop was not a social problem.

That was before self-righteous outrage became a virtue, which was probably the 60s.

A co-worker in the '75 told me of a trip to NYC and how amazed he was to see somebody gathering up his dog's poop. So for Ohio at least that bit of culture had not arrived even in the 70s.

The common 50s sign in cities concerning dogs was "Curb your Dog."

Picking up did not come up.

How well we are trained today!

Data point: my dog poops in the yard and I don't notice it except for the spring thaw, when poop that had been preserved for months by snow appears all at once. It's no different today than it used to be.

Poop is biodegradable.

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