Yet, he is a happy camper. He shows no envy of less imbecilic Professors. How has he attained this blissful felicity?
But why not sample the nitwit's sublime silliness for yourself?
Suppose you’ve got 1000 students to assign to two schools, each with 500 slots available. Everyone prefers the Good School to the Bad School. Which of the following is a fair way to decide who goes where?
Method A: Give each student a coin to flip and count on the Law of Large Numbers to insure that just about exactly 500 will flip heads. Those students go to the Good School.
Method B: Randomly assign each student to one of two groups. Then flip a single coin to determine which group goes to the Good School.
Method C: After taking note of the fact that, coincidentally, exactly half the students are white and half are black, flip a single coin to determine which race goes to the Good School.
Method D: Assign all the white students to the Good School.
....Economists often interpret fairness to mean that the mechanism should be envy-free, meaning that at some stage in the process, no student wishes he could trade positions with another. Certainly that’s true of Method A, where everyone gets a fair coin and there’s no reason to prefer your neighbor’s coin to your own. And certainly it’s true of Method B, where we’re assigned to our random groups and all await the outcome of the same coin flip. And certainly it’s true of Method C, where the groups are race-based but once again, we’re all awaiting the outcome of the same coin flip. On the other hand, it seems to be quite untrue of Method D, where all of the black students believe (correctly) that they’d be treated better if they were white.
Do economists really believe that I won't envy you for getting a Maserati while I get mugged just because a coin-toss determined that outcome? Does a gambler who loses not feel jealous of the one who wins?
No. Of course not. That would be silly. Wikipedia says 'An envy-free division is a division of a resource among several partners such that every partner feels that his allocated share is at least as good as any other share.'
As I say in my (not yet banned) comment on his blog-‘the mechanism should be envy-free, meaning that at some stage in the process, no student wishes he could trade positions with another’That’s not what envy-free means. The stages don’t matter. Only the final allocation. Thus so long as one School is better than the other, no allocation is envy-free. Resources need to be concentrated on equalizing the Schools for envy-freedom to obtain. Alternatively, the cost- whether monetary or in terms of acquiring relevant entry qualifications or in terms of staying the course- has to be differentiated.
That last sentence needs to be qualified. Subjectively, we might say that regret-minimization could be linked with envy-freedom so you feel there is no point envying someone else's slice of the cake provided our own allocation 'minimized regret' according to the relevant algorithm. This isn't actually what envy-freedom or 'super-fairness' means. It is simply about seeing whether final outcomes are such that no one wants to swap places with any one else.
Landsburg thinks tossing a coin is enough to make any outcome whatsoever proof against envy. But if you accept his notion of envy freedom there is no need for any coin toss.
Define Good School as that which has alumni who suffer a sense of shame when they say stupid things and who envy those of their peers who say sensible things. Define Bad School as that which has alumni who are happy imbeciles. Landsburg belongs to the latter school. Far from envying his sensible colleagues he happily hurls his feces at them in the belief that he is scoring a great intellectual victory. Yet no one tossed a coin to send Landsburg to the Bad School. If final outcomes don't matter, envy is meaningless.