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If someone else is paying, I'm having filet mignon

Those wonderful people at the Department of Communities and Local Government, or so it styles itself this week, are crowing about the choices it makes with public money that people responsible for their own spending do not. In this case it is money spent on roof insulation, cavity walls and the like. Apparently "Over three quarters (77 per cent) of social sector housing has cavity walls, compared to just over two thirds (67 per cent) of private homes. Just a quarter (27 per cent) of private homes have adequate loft insulation, while almost a half (44 per cent) of social sector houses boast 150mm of insulation or more." And Yvette Cooper reckons "Council houses are now much greener than private homes". Well whoopee do.

This raises a number of issues. Spending one's money on double glazing, cavity wall insulation or rolls of that ghastly yellow stuff that makes your skin itch for days may well be an economically sensible choice, but if all of our choices were strictly rational private health care spending and the like would be considerably greater. However, faced with a range of possibilities for spending, private property owners are not rushing to do Yvette's bidding: "The most energy inefficient stock tends to be older, privately owned, larger housing and is often amongst the most valued housing". Perhaps they have precious little discretionary cash left over after they have paid the mortgage, or perhaps they make 'bad' choices with their money and choose to eat out and go on holiday. Or perhaps they consider that the degree of energy inefficiency from sash windows is the price that one pays for having a period property, rather than ripping them out and replacing them with uPVC horrors.

As to those people in social housing now swelling with pride at their greenness, I very much doubt that they were ever asked where they wanted the money spent. After all, an infantilised population cannot be expected to make the right choices, can it?

The headline is part owed to a useful analytical tool from Nozick (I think), who posed the four possibilities involving cost and value when choosing how money is spent:

My money spent on me - cost and value are both important considerations.
My money spent on someone else - cost and value considerations vary.
Someone else's money spent on me - I'm having the filet mignon.
Someone else's money spent on someone else - who cares?

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Blogger hatfield girl said... 4:39 pm

'I'm having filet mignon.'

No,no - changed my mind, instead I'll have:

Filets de poisson en souffle' with sauce mousseline saboyon;

followed byyyy - oh I'll stay fishy and have homard thermidor; and a few concombres persilles

Mmm, can I give in and have crepes fourrees et flambees?

No, no coffee - a tisane?  

Blogger Croydonian said... 7:38 am

That sounds a rather tempting repast. Nice of whoever it is who is picking up the bill.  

Blogger hatfield girl said... 11:04 am

If that lot was on the menu I'd pay for it myself; which suggests there's more to this than the categories given; as long as there is a difference between the price and what I'm prepared to pay for such a meal, ie a consumer surplus, I'd eat up.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 1:19 pm

Can I join you Hatfield girl? Will you pay for me as well?

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