| Big Breasts |

Micha has already jumped bravely into the Big Breast fray, so I think I'll hop onto the pleasantly jiggling bandwagon with some similarly mixed comments. To catch up, here is Libertarian Girl's original post, and her response to Micha.

First, I think it's sad that some of her libertarian readers are so zealous and economically ignorant as to react to this suggestion with calls that her "libertarian card" be revoked. The idea that taxing zero-sum activities is economically efficient is a very non-controversial one, at least among economists. And while natural rights libertarians might argue that its morally wrong to support any tax, I can assure you that a perfectly reasonable consequentalist libertarian position is "I think taxes are bad, but if you're going to have taxes, they should be as efficient as possible, and taxing rent-seeking activity is efficient."

That said, I think it is far from clear that breast implants are an entirely zero-sum game. LG writes:

If women with breast implants have higher "self-esteem," it's only at the expense of other womens' self-esteem which surely goes down when their breasts become smaller when compared with surgically augmented women

She is making an assertion that only relative breast size matters to self-esteem and attractiveness, and not absolute breast size. She has not supported this assertion, and I really don't think its true. While I'm sure that relative size matters somewhat, I bet that absolute does do.

As one example, I am sometimes in environments with large numbers of attractive women. Other times I am in environments where attractive women are rare. In the former case, I do not become desensitized to all the hot young women, (or at least, only a little bit.) I still react differently to the different crowd. Male brains are programmed to react to certain signals of beauty. We are attracted to women who appear fertile, and big breasts are part of that (although perhaps for foolish reasons, ie the equivalent of peacock tails). Having more of those signals does not make the signals meaningless. If what we are attracted to is fertility, then if everyone looks fertile we will be attracted to everyone.

If her argument is true of big breasts, why wouldn't it be true of any other measure of female attractiveness? Is all beauty relative? Hell, no! A man in a crowd of 22 year-olds will do more ogling than a man in a crowd of 60-year olds, even if he is in those crowds long enough to adjust his beauty scale. He may become choosier about which 22-year olds he finds attractive, but he will still find a higher proportion of the women attractive.

I think another reductio ad absurdum works well here also. Suppose that we could costlessly set the size of all female breasts. By her argument, it would not matter what size we set them at (in terms of female self-esteem/attractiviness). Hence we might well set them to be tiny or nonexistent, so as to put minimal strain on female backs. Is it really true that male attraction to females would be the same in a society where all breasts were tiny as if all breasts were large? I am very sure that it would not.

So we end up with a situation like advertising, where we have an activity with some value creation and some rent seeking. We can deplore the rent seeking, but we should still admit the value creation. We should prefer to tax these industries to taxing ones with more value creation, but we should still not be delighted to tax them.

P.S. For those not familiar with mathematical notation, vertical bars are the symbol for absolute value, hence the title of this post...

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The same argument is

The same argument is frequently made in favor of wealth distribution. If a large part of the utility in possessing wealth comes from the status benefit of having more wealth than others, it is a zero sum game. I assume Libertarian Girl wouldn't buy into that argument (and if she does, she DEFINITELY needs to have her libertarian card revoked), but I don't see how the breast size thing is any different.

Patri, "And while natural

Patri,

"And while natural rights libertarians might argue that its morally wrong to support any tax, I can assure you that a perfectly reasonable consequentalist libertarian position is “I think taxes are bad, but if you’re going to have taxes, they should be as efficient as possible, and taxing rent-seeking activity is efficient."

Do you find anything in her post to suggest her tax proposal was offered as an alternative to inefficient taxation?

She can have my libertarian credentials, I have no use for them.

Xavier, it is conceivable

Xavier, it is conceivable that the utility properties of breasts and money are different.

But as you say, all she gave was her assertion that the two were different; an assertion I find unconvincing.

I must say though, I always like seeing people breaking the mold, even when that mold is the Libertarian one. I'd much prefer we continue to be a group of argumentative free thinkers, than a swarm of political clones.

Xavier - I'd agree that both

Xavier - I'd agree that both are the same: in both cases it seems completely clear to me that some of the utility is from relative status and some from absolute. The ratios may be different, but I don't think its reasonable to argue that either of them are all relative, or absolute.

JTK - you are right that she didn't say this, perhaps I was projecting.

Scott - agreed on both points!

She can have my libertarian

She can have my libertarian credentials, I have no use for them.

I'll give you a bowl of lentil soup for 'em.

Carnival of the Capitalists

Carnival of the Capitalists
Welcome to this week's edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists. There were tons of great posts last week in the capitalist blogosphere: David Tufte wondered, in voluntaryXchange: "when is a good worth more when you remove what makes...

Male brains are programmed

Male brains are programmed to react to certain signals of beauty. We are attracted to women who appear fertile, and big breasts are part of that (although perhaps for foolish reasons, ie the equivalent of peacock tails)

This is very speculative biology, by the way; anyone with children will be aware that 1) the size of a woman's breasts alters during pregnancy, and the size of a woman's breasts before she has had her first child is not much of an indicator of what they will look like by the time they come into use, and 2) having large breasts is not an advantage in feeding a child; women with small breasts feed their children just fine, and indeed women with large breasts often have more problems because the baby feels like he is being smothered (yes really).

There might be all sorts of reasons why large breasts are (sometimes in some cultures) considered a sexual signal, but they've got nothing to do with the role of breasts in their most important use.

The fact that men are

The fact that men are attracted to signs of fertility is not speculative. Breasts as a sign of fertility is very speculative, that was why I qualified it with the "peacock tail" comment. I think breasts are one of the least understood features that men are attracted to - most are either signs of youth or directly relevant (ie wide hips).

There are a number of theories, but all are pretty speculative - Playboy this month actually lists 5 of them in an article about breasts.

some men like big breasted

some men like big breasted womens.big breasted womens look beautiful.

:sleep: first vote labor and

:sleep: first vote labor and why have'nt you got any picturs or boobs

please send xxx photo

please send xxx photo

Patri, Breasts as a sign of

Patri,

Breasts as a sign of real increased fertility are not speculative - at least for natural sized breast. The bottle-shaped body (and not just the big breasts) is more fertile and it has more of estradiol. See my post Women With Hourglass Bodies Have More Reproductive Hormones for the details.

:twisted:

:twisted:

Lluiza I think heaving big

Lluiza
I think heaving big boobs is great.And i would love to have dds im only a teen and im size B and i really hope and want for my boobs to get bigger i just love to have big boobs.

get me connected with some

get me connected with some big boobs ladies in Scotland-UK