I've just sent the following cheeky email to Tim Harford:
Dear Tim,I'll let you know if he replies.
I read with interest your most recent “Dear Economist” reply to the student concerned about his lazy economics lecturer.
You advised that were he to blow the whistle on his lecturer, he should keep it in-house, lest any potential employer find out and refuse to hire him on the basis that his degree is a sham. But isn't the efficient market outcome the one that would occur if all parties had access to all the information that is available, and by encouraging him to conceal the fraudulent nature of his degree you are imposing a cost on his future employer greater than the benefit the student would receive?
Why are you favouring the welfare of the student at the greater cost to the rest of society in this way? I wonder if your reply is revealing information about the details of your remuneration package. Do you, perhaps, receive payment directly from your correspondents? Will I be billed for sending you this note?
Apologies if my questions are too intrusive.
UPDATE: Tim Harford replies:
Good question, but I'm sure you have by now realised that "Dear
Economist" seeks to advise my correspondents, not save the world...
Thanks for writing.