A Fun Way To Look At Economics

This is a repost from my previous blog.  I will be bringing over the best ones over time.

I am started to realize that economics is in my blood. My dad is to blame or to be thanked depending on your affinity towards the subject matter…Here is my post and this time you didn’t have to wait 3 months. So I finally did my taxes with the assistance of one of my mentors and dearest family friends. Yes, I know. I cut it really close and I should have done this weeks if not months ago. From my point of view, I’m just happy that I comfortably beat the cut off time for e-filing the federal and mailing in my extremely modest NJ state return. When I say modest, I do mean modest. I’m not complaining though. If you make out with $1 from NJ in a return, this is cause for celebration. Anyways, back to the point of this post. Some time last week, as I took my time driving home from the Princeton area, I was listening to my girl on NPR’s Radio Times in Philadelphia, Marty Moss Coane. I always find her broadcasts engaging and informative. On this particular day, she had an economist – Robert H. Frank – on her program who was making the case for a progressive consumption tax instead of our traditional progressive income tax that we are all accustomed or allergic to right now. I thought it was poignant that this was discussed at the same time that I was filing my tax returns in one of the most expensive states in the union. The essence of the argument can be found here in PDF format. This was a column posted in the New York Times in November 2008. Although, I won’t be getting into the details of the discussions, I just had to share the story behind how I even heard about this guy. After reading up more about him, the book below seems like a good purchase.

By Robert H Frank

Robert Frank discusses all kinds of topics that many people would never think that economics could answer. It just might be true what they say. Economics can usually answer just about any question about human behavior. Here are a few questions for you to ponder.

  • Why does a $500 tuxedo rent for $90 a day while a $20,000 car rents for only $40?
  • Why do female models earn so much more than male models?
  • Why might retailers deliberately hammer dents into their own appliances?
  • Why do the keypad buttons of drive-up cash machines have Braille dots?
  • Why are child safety seats required in cars but not in airplanes?
  • Why are whales, but not chickens, in danger of extinction?
  • Why is there a light in your refrigerator but not in your freezer?
  • Why do 24-hour convenience stores have locks on their doors?
  • Why are newspapers, but not soft drinks, sold in vending machines that allow customers to take more units than they paid for?
  • Why are brown eggs more expensive than white ones, even though the two types taste the same and have identical nutritional value?

Try and answer these questions with your intuition and post your thoughts in the comment section. I am interested to find out how you wrestle with these questions. Frank answers these questions and many more in his book. If you’re interested, visit his website for more information. Please note that some of the information provided was directly taken from the website of Robert H. Frank and is by no means my own words.


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