Logic of Life

Just read Tim Harford’s Logic of Life book. It’s interesting and enlightening just like his previous book, Undercover Economist. It would make much much more sense to me if I can read it all in one or two sittings than snatching a bit here and there on tube journeys, because by the time he’s on Chapter 9 and he’s going ‘like we found out in Chapter 3’, and I’m like ‘what happened in Chapter 3?’ – and even if I remembered…

Hmm, my song Whizz Around the Sun  just came on on my Last.fm library radio. My songs are very distracting to me!

… by the time I read the next line I’d forget what the argument was. Haha.

Harford wrote about whether divorce is underrated, why bosses are overpaid, how politics gets skewed to supporting the few, and many more. As for how politics supports the few, it’s not repeating the same old ‘overpaid politicians’ rant, it’s throwing light on on how trade sanctions (e.g local only sugar) and geographical sanctions (e.g green-belt) are a bad idea. These groups have more to lose, so can throw more money at it and try their damnednest to vote for the party that does them the most favours and supports their cause, while the cost to the rest of the population is only 10p or smth; basically an amount not worth squabbling over, or worth getting out of the house to vote. Harford equates this to splitting the bill at the end of a dinner party at a restaurant; everybody tries to order smth more expensive because the cost is going to be absorbed by someone else. That someone else might not bother fighting over the extra £1 to their share. Add it all up… the cost to taxpayers to appease everyone is a hefty bill.

Harford also mentions that more money is going to rural societies just to prop them up, compared to more economically-viable cities. Another point is also that it makes more sense to make cities bigger because city dwellers use less space, have less stuff, use almost exclusively public transport (me, me, me!), therefore being more environmentally friendly than those out in the country. I would definitely drive if I move out of London; I remember lots of lost time, overpriced bus tickets and rude bus drivers, and couldn’t wait for the day I got my driving licence. If London had more space to develop,  it would also probably help London look less like a sh*thole as it would have more space for trees and greenery, with the right planning policies in place. I see more trees in Singapore than London, and it’s a third the size and is the 2nd most densely populated country in the world. It would also bring more homes into the market making property more affordable. (there are loads of empty properties lying around; that’s another story!) Of course, over-extending London/cities could be a bad or a good thing!

Why is the top honcho in a company paid really highly? To make the people below him/her work harder in the hope they’ll get the prize one day, and to reward high stock market returns. Online contact is not a substitute for in-person contact – in fact it only makes them meet up more.

All in all it’s an enlightening read, with some controversial ideas to make you think.


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