06a13. utterly fabulous.
Friday, April 14, 2006
hey guys. was reading some econs stuff for some reason (don't ask me why haha), and came across this ridiculously funny and witty article put forth by some baby-hating economists. oh yea and its not my fault if this article convinces you ha. oh yea and all the brackets in the article are my random comments. Enjoy.
Mum's the Word. When Children should be screened and not heard.
We live in increasingly intolerant times. Signs profilerate (like as in nuclear proliferation) demanding no smoking, no spitting, no parking, even no walking ... Posh clubs and restaurents have long had "no jeans" rules, but these days you can be too smart. Some London hostelries have "no suits" policies, for fear that boisterous city traders in suits might spoil the atmosphere. Environmentalists have long demanded all sorts of bans on cars. Mobile telephones are the latest target: some trains, airline lounges, restaurants, and even golf courses are being designated "no phone areas" (what will phone companies do man. their business KO le.)
If tolerance really has to be the spirit of this age, The Economist would like to suggest restrictions on another source of noice pollution: children. Lest you dismiss this as mere prejudice, we can even produce a good economic argument for it. Smoking, driving and mobile phones all cause what economists call "negative externalities." That is, the costs of these activities to other people tend to exceed the costs to the individuals of their proclivities (wah must learn this word . so cheem) The invisible hand of the market fumbles, leading resources astray. Thus because a driver's private motoring costs do not reflect the costs he imposes on others in the form of pollution and congestion, he uses the car more than is socially desirable. Likewise, it is argued, smokers take too little care to ensure that their acrid fumes do not damage other people around them.
Government typically respond to such market failures in two ways. One is higher taxes, to make polluters pay the full cost of their anti-social behaviour (haha smokers = antisocial. lol.). The other is regulation, such as emission standards on smoking in public places. Both approaches might work for children. ( i am thinking now of taxes and regulations being imposed on children. makes children a kind of commodity don't you think?)
For children, just like cigarettes or mobile phones, clearly impose a negative externality on people who are near them. Anybody who has suffered a 12 hour flight with bawling babies in the row immediately ahead, or a bored youngster viciously kicking their seat from behind, will grasp this as quickly as they would love to grasp the youngster's neck (haha. i somehow get the mental image of wringing chicken necks and plucking out their feathers. ouch). Here is a clear case of market failure: parents do not bear the full costs (indeed young babies travel free), so they are too ready to take their noisy brats with them. Where is the invisible hand when it is needed to adminster a good smack?
The solution is obvious. All airlines, trains and restaurants should create child-free zones (like smoking free zones yea?) Put all those children at the back of the plane and parents might make more effort to minimize noise pollution. And instead of letting children pay less and babies go free (free as in dun need to pay for bus rides, not free as in set free in the wild, like animals; or go scot-free like criminals), they should be charged (or taxed) more than adults, with the revenues used to subsideize seats immediately in the front of the war-zone (haha.)
Passengers could then request a no-children seat, just as they now ask for a no-smoking one. As more women choose not to have children and the number of older people without young children increases, the demand for child-free travel will expand. Well yes, it is a bit intolerant - but why shouldn't parents be treated as badly as smokers? And at least there is an obvious airline to pioneer the scheme: Virgin (get it? this is funny.)
- This is the end of the article. Hope you all enjoyed it. -
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