Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Coasean Blues

The weirdest thing about Douglas Baird's podcast of "Coase's Journey" (aside from the disturbing news that I, along with most of the economics profession, have been pronouncing 'Coase' incorrectly for all these years) is what you'll find out if you drop the MP3 file into iTunes. The lecture's genre classification? Blues.

This iTunes revelation, along with my co-blogger’s past efforts, has inspired me. And so I present “The Coasean Blues.” Imagine, if you will, the voice of an aging African-American man accompanied by harmonica and blues guitar. (Pay close attention and you might even learn the corrected pronunciation of Coase.)

The Coasean Blues

I got up this morning and tripped without warning
On the works of a fella named Coase.
He’s got a model and theorem for folks that’ll hear ’em,
And my problem he hit on the nose.

My good neighbors and I got an airport nearby,
The planes wake us again and again.
We could pay them all right, to fly less at night,
If free-riders would only chip in!

The state’s got a buy-way of building a highway
That’ll go through your grandmother’s claim
So would she have sold out, or been a real hold-out?
We don’t know ’cause of em’nent domain!
Yeah you pick and you choose... your property rules;
And if you pick wrong... you’ll be singing the blues.

If you think that Pigou knew the right thing to do,
You’d best be moseyin’ through.
You’ll be sheddin’ a tear if you’re standin’ round here
While I’m singin’ the Coasean Blues.
You can hire an agent to work in your basement
But you know there’s a possible cost:
That dude could be shirkin’ yet oughta be workin’
If you don’t hire monitors, boss!

You can bring on a man to run your food stand,
But your firm could be courtin’ a loss.
’Cause that helpful young man might come up with a plan
To abscond with your so-special sauce!
Yeah you pick and you choose... the markets you use;
And if you pick wrong... you’ll be singing the blues.

I know that one day if my tears go away
Then my cheeks’ll be rosy in hue
But 'til that fine day comes to pass I must say,
I’ll be singin’ the Coasean Blues.
That fella named Coase really knows all the woes
That cause jurists and firms just to quake.
We hang on the cross of a transaction cost
That’ll mess up the deals we could make.
Yeah you pick and choose... institutions to use;
And if you pick wrong... it’s the Coasean blues.
[Update: I've edited the post to fix the meter in one line.]


Tom W. Bell said...

Brilliant! Got music? I'm thinking you'll need something beyond the standard 12-bar blues. . . .

Glen Whitman said...

Just lyrics at the moment, I'm afraid. But somebody's got a tune in mind:
She evens compliments my scansion! :)