April Fools' Festival Day III: Robert Lucas
Looking for the Shovel: Why Stephen Moore Is Making Me Write for Medium

Sir Terry Pratchett: April 28, 1948-March 12, 2015:


Terry Pratchett: The Pratchett Quote File v6.0: "You can't make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago 'Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world's music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, travelling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don't have to die of dental abcesses and you don't have to do what the squire tells you' they'd think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say 'yes'.

For the record, let me say that the ten or so Terry Pratchett books that I have read have made me happy:

If I do not live in the New Jerusalem, it is not Sir Pterry's fault.

In fact, let's back this out: how much of the New Jerusalem has Sir Pterry built so far for us? He has by now sold perhaps 100 million copies worldwide. The used-book market in Pratchett's is flourishing. So figure 100 million readings at 3 hours per reading means that humans have spent 300 million hours reading Sir Pterry's books, and being, the rough consensus is, overwhelmingly entertained thereby.

Guess at the average wage for North Atlantic economy Pratchett-readers: $20 an hour, with some (Welshmen, perhaps?) earning considerably more. Subtract off the $5 average cost of each book and get $55 per reading...

By this calculation, that's $5.5 billion in true wealth that Sir Pterry has created for us all...

And I would say that there is more. For most Pratchett books I have, if Mephistopheles offered me $60 to spend on thing $new$ and $shiny$ in return for excising my reading of the book from my life and memory, I would be tempted. But I would gladly have paid $200 for the privilege of reading Guards, Guards!; $500 for Lords and Ladies with its description of Morris Dancing-as-martial-art; and easily $1000 for Small Gods. So not $600 but more than three times that is the right number covering that hard-to-measure upper-left corner of the consumer surplus measure.

So not $5.5 billion but $20 billion in happiness and entertainment.

Rest in Peace, or, as Pratchett might perhaps write, WALK THIS WAY…

And all kudos to the workers in the vineyard whose products we get to drink: David and Eileen Pratchett; Hay-on-Wye, Bucks., England; High Wycombe Technical High School; and the Beaconsfield Public Library…

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