Baseball Economics

Dennis Coates and Brad R. Humphreys lay waste to the claim that DC baseball will be an economic boon to humanity in their Cato Briefing Paper, “Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball.”

I find wealth transfers to millionaires, well, unjust, don’t you?

Meanshile, in other baseball economics news, Dan Akst pitching in at Marginal Revolution reports on a new paper taking into account the existence value of professional sports franchises for the residents of municipalities:

. . . according to economists Jerry Carlino and Ed Coulson, whose highly readable recent paper on the subject tries to take account of the intangible value people derive from sports teams. “We found that once quality of life benefits are included in the calculus,” they write, “the seemingly large public expenditure on new stadiums appears to be a good investment for cities and their residents.” The authors liken having an NFL team to having an old-growth forest–it’s something people enjoy even if they never visit. This is to say nothing of the pleasure and unity they derive from rooting, discussing, etc.

Yes, and I can imagine a world in which torturing Michael Moore on live televison would provide huge amounts of enjoyment to huge masses of people. It’s something people might enjoy knowing had happened, even if they didn’t happen to see it. To say nothing of the pleasure and unity they derive from rooting, discussing, etc. A good investment!

A eugenics program aimed at engineering supermodels might be good investment too, since it’s so nice to look at beautiful people, and it’s nice to know that they’re out there even when you’re not looking at them. You can fantasize about them, talk about them. Great fun. The state should look into it! Good looking people might be like old growth forests.

And, now that I think about it, it’s pretty clear that a huge number of Americans derive great pride and pleasure from knowing that the USA is the strongest nation in the world with the most kick-ass military. So maybe tthe cost of war in terms of dead soldiers and billions of dollars is a bargain relative to the utility value of American pride in (the perception of) our insuperable dominance.

Anyway, yes! Large public expenditures on DC baseball. Let’s go ahead and do that!

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center