I read an interesting book at the beginning of the year, the Armchair Economist by Steven E. Landsburg. I picked it up because I enjoyed another book he wrote, More Sex is Safer Sex. I have to admit, there is something to be said for a title grabbing your attention, especially when it has sex in it but purports to be a book on economics. Both books explore everyday situations from an economic perspective. I’m going to guess lots of people would disagree with many of Landsburg’s conclusions and might even find some of them offensive; like certain people having more sex makes us all a little safer or how we might be better off putting computer hackers to death rather than some murderers. Agree or disagree, his books are thought provoking and much more interesting that traditional economics where they typically just chart supply and demand.
movie Hall Pass that illustrates this well. In one scene a group of guys are staring at a group of girls. One girl stood out because she was taller and prettier than the others. Then one of the guys tells the others, “Tall blonde, right here. She surrounds herself with less attractive women to make her look like a 10.” As the guys move their hands so they can’t see the other girls the tall blonde doesn’t look so hot after all. Of course the film makers use make up to emphasize the point but don’t think there aren’t some people out there who wouldn’t purposely hang out with other less attractive people just to stand out. Compared to what, or who?We would do well to always ask ourselves what we’re comparing to and whether or not it’s a valid comparison or the best comparison. For example, I heard on a conservative news channel the Illinois state legislature was considering a 66% increase in the state income tax. Wow, that should be cause for revolt in this economy! But here’s the perspective from the other side; the state income tax would only go up 2 percentage points. And here’s where both comparisons come from; the tax will go from 3 percent to 5 percent. That’s 2 percentage points, a 66% increase. I’m sure those opposed to the tax talked about a 66% increase whereas those in favor focused on the 2 percent change. Both are valid and both will elicit completely different responses! Compared to what?
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.