The economics of Mrs Lovett


Image courtesy of Rose Colligan.

Most economic research is a process of adding to ideas that have already been thought of. In Mrs Lovett’s case her grand plan involves adding concepts to Sweeney Todd’s welfare policy.

Now if you haven’t seen the movie yet, this might be a bit more of a spoiler than the previous post. As a result, think carefully before you click below the flap.

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Yes, it IS the referee’s fault!

You always here about how biased referees are from football fans. However, Matt and Agnitio are model football fans and seem to rarely criticise the referee, even when Liverpool are getting walloped. Now Robin Hanson links to a study which gives them a reason to lambast the ref a bit more:

Referees, who are appointed to be impartial, tend to favor the home team by systematically awarding more stoppage time in close matches in which the home team is behind. They also favor the home team in decisions to award goals and penalty kicks.

Not that we should be surprised by this news: it would be odd if referees were such a different breed that they could block out all the incentives to appease the home crowd. Why should we ascribe some superhuman power to them that none of us possess? Fans everywhere can rejoice in the knowledge that all referees are likely to be biased towards the home team, or whatever team they personally sympathise with. It’s just human nature and we can expect no more of them. Read more

Sweeney Todd’s welfare policy


After recently watching the movie ‘Sweeney Todd‘ one question popped into my mind, is the welfare policy he derives optimal? Below the flap I will discuss his welfare policy – if you haven’t seen the movie or watched the broadway show then read at your own risk. Although I don’t talk about the movie itself, and the welfare policy won’t tell you anything you wouldn’t find by watching the trailer.

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Expensive tomfoolery

I’m always told about how bean-counters everywhere like to cut costs, but every now and then something slips through the net. Apparently Japanese researchers are developing a paper airplane to fly from the International Space Station to Earth! As much fun as that sounds, I am baffled as to how they got funding.
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Acquitted but not necessarily innocent

We mentioned a while back that the way politicians’ reputations are besmirched by allegations of misconduct coudl be due to the mistaken recollections of their constituents. Of course, there are rational reasons to mistrust politicians who are investigated for misconduct too, as Stuart Armstrong points out:

more guilty people get tried and acquitted than the average of the population. So … the trial is evidence of guilt – noisy evidence, but evidence none the less.

So, barring a complete exoneration (rather than a mere acquittal) perhaps I am silly to have faith in people who’ve been tried for crimes or misconduct. Our justice system is designed to prevent the conviction of the innocent, rather than preventing the acquittal of the guilty. As such we should expect that far fewer people are wrongly convicted than are wrongly acquitted. Given that there are a reasonable number of convictions overturned in light of later evidence, it must be that plenty of those acquitted are guilty of what they are accused of. They can’ t be punished but that doesn’t make them innocent, and our beliefs should rationally reflect that.

Subconscious nationalism

I hate nationalism, I agree with the idea of valuing your nation above other nations, it just seems like an arbitrary way of dividing people. However, I just had what I think was a nationalistic experience. I was reading this article about how a Trans-Tasman publisher had its first-half profits driven down by a poor performance in NZ. As I was reading I felt embarrassed, I could hear myself thinking “I’m sure New Zealand is as good a market as Australia (if not better 🙂 ), they just must not be trying to sell their product properly”. However, after hearing myself think that statement, a statement that made practically no economic sense, I realised I was just being defensive. I was being defensive about the performance of the New Zealand publishing market.

We are all boundedly rational, and so we all need to follow rules of thumb in order to make quick decisions, or quickly analyse things. As people we can’t comprehend a world made up of individuals, we have to put people into groups in order to interact with society, this is one of our rules of thumb. However, it is important to realise how ridiculous I sound standing up for the New Zealand publishing market in my head, as that is how ridiculous we all sound when we argue things on a nationalistic basis.