The Economics of Weiner's weiner, a funny example of economics -, Learning Economics... Solved!


The Economics of Weiner's weiner, a funny example of economics

Anothony Weiner has been in the news a lot lately, because of his apparent tweeting of lewd body parts to a female friend through twitter.  Recently he has come forward to admit that he in fact did make the tweet, and that he was not hacked.  You may be asking yourself why you are reading about Weiner's weiner on an economics website but there is a good reason, two actually.  The first is that we could predict something like this to happen using economics, and the second is because sometimes people want to learn economics through something besides math and monetary examples.

Lets consider first Weiner's behavior to decide to commit this act in the first place.  Economists believe that individuals are rational meaning that they act in their own best judgement to maximize their utility.  So lets think about this, Weiner decided it was in his best interest to
send a lewd photo to one of his female friends on twitter.  That means that his marginal happiness of getting that attention was worth more than the possible costs associated with the move.  Or in other words, the:

Benefits > Costs.

So what are the benefits of conducting such a strange act?  Attention, power, exposure?  In order to get a high benefit from this action, he either enjoys living on the edge, or he isn't getting enough attention at home.  We know that the benefits of female attention are high for males, just look at a club downtown every weekend.  The biggest difference  for Weiner is the costs associated with going through with that action.  For an unknown unmarried single guy, the costs aren't that high, maybe some family and friends find out, but for Weiner the potential costs are huge.  His credibility and job are now completely destroyed.  People say that Weiner shouldn't have done it, but I would like to quote Chris Rock's joke about the Clinton scandal:

"lt is just Bill Clinton.
He's just a man. A man's gonna be a man.

A man is basically as faithful as his 
That's how faithful a man is,
no more, no less.
You see all these
fat Republican guys going:
''l would never do such a thing.
This is a travesty.''
l'm like, ''Nobody's trying to blow you.''
Ain't no   20-year-old girls
trying to blow Orrin Hatch."

So I guess that the fact that Weiner has to deal with this problem has some benefit.  At least he has a problem to deal with, their is no shortage of girls (apparently) trying to see Weiner's weiner.

Now onto the problem about why he would lie about it.  Here we have to assume that he again is acting rational.  With all of the hacks that have occurred recently, why wouldn't it be feasible that someone hacked his account?  However, it seems to me that his wife should be able to identify the photo, to see if it was a hack or not.  We can model Weiner's decision with expected Utility theory, here his expected utility or happiness from lying is based on comparing probabilities:

As we can see from the above comparison, if Weiner wanted a chance of staying in office, he would have to lie!  If he were to tell the truth, then there is 100% probability that he would get bad press and would have to resign, at least by telling the lie, their is a >0 probability that he would stay in office.

But I think this is common knowledge, that is why all people initially lie about the bad things they have done.  Finally for some fun, here are some crazy headlines regarding this whole event:

"Weiner and Nevada woman exchanged raunchy messages, planned to meet".
"Donald Trump slams weiner" 
"Bun in oven may not be Weiner's"
"Despite attacks, Weiner able to shake it off."
"Weiner Has A Solid Staff; Says He'll Stick It Out"
I would not be proud to be a "Weiner" right about now...