Author Archive | tejvan

Asking for the receipt

Yesterday I went shopping at a local health food store. It is in the same location as the former ‘Inner Bookshop’. I loved that shop because I bought many spiritual books there. A health food store is a poor comparison. But I still like to support a few local independent stores – I do enough buying from Amazon and Tesco.

Anyway first up I bought some Paleo organic cereal for £6.75 (375grams) I think I bought mainly because of the outrageous price. In economics, we might call it a Veblen good (the higher the price, the better we think it is – the demand curve goes the other way) I may do an economics blog post on this to justify the purchase (market research and all that)

Anyway, by the time I’m getting to the back of the shop, my inner Yorkshireman is coming to the fore. After spending £6 for a few seeds, I’m looking for a bargain to square the money circle. I see my favourite soup is on special offer £3.39 cut in price to for £2.50 – because it is getting close to its sell-by date. So I take one of these – I can eat it for lunch. I also buy some avocado humous – reduced in price. Continue Reading →

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Kant, Pettinger and Kierkegaard

I was amused to see in Oxford Blackwells my new economics book in between the great philosophers Immanual Kant and Søren Kierkegaard. I’ve always fancied myself as something of a philosopher.

But when I studied PPE at Oxford University, I was hopeless at philosophy. I couldn’t read a page of Kant for love nor money. One of the few rebelllious things I’ve done in life is when I worked out you could more or less fail philosophy, but still pass on to the second year of PPE where you could concentrate on just economics and politics. So I stopped going to philosophy lectures – never read a philosophy book and scrapped a third on the philosophy 1st year exams. Then I dropped the philosophy to a great sense of joy and relief.

In my second and third year, I did start going to lectures in economics and politics!

When I joined Sri Chinmoy’s path, a disciple told me that in his youth Sri Chinmoy read all the western philosophers. But, now he prays to God to be able to forget all this dry philosophy! I was so happy to hear that – because I don’t feel any joy in western philosophy. But, I hope there is a little joy in my philosophical economics book!

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The clever economist gets caught out

With my new book – What would Keynes do? – The brief was to write essays on how famous economists would respond to everyday questions. So for example, with the question – Is it OK to be selfish? I examined how the likes of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Arthur Pigou and Alfred Marshall might answer this question – using their economic teachings.

It was a good experience to research and share the views of different economists, but now I’ve finished writing the book, I’m writing my own perspective on my economics blog.

#2. Should I park illegally?

The essence of this question is that – an economist may calculate it is worth parking illegally and risking a fine because the probability of getting fine is less than the utility of just parking. It is called rational choice theory – we maximise our individual utility by careful evaluation of the different benefits and costs.

It is a philosophy I practise to a certain degree. But, it reminded me of a story where the clever economist got caught out. 

I was in London, and my friend wanted to buy something from a shop. There were no parking spots anywhere, so I parked on a single yellow line, while my friend ran into the shop. I waited by the car, ready to drive off – if a parking warden came. No one did come, my friend got his food, and we drove off. I thought I was clever to save a lot of hassle and park for free.

However, one week later, I got a very nice parking fine (something like £80) from Wandsworth Council saying I spent 10 minutes on a single yellow line. Not only that – they had a picture of me standing nonchalantly by my car, waiting for a traffic warden to appear.

So in that case, the clever economist got caught out by CCTV!

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What would Keynes do?

I have a new economics book published this week. – What Would Keynes do?

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It was good fun to write. In addition to my existing knowledge, I had to do quite a bit of research into the views of different economists. I learnt a lot about the fringes of economics in writing the book.

It gave me a new respect for some economists I didn’t know too well, but with regard to other economists – I don’t want to read them anymore!

Related

What would Keynes do? at Economics Help

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Basil Fawlty Lives

broadway

Some friends hired a cottage in the Cotswolds to record some music of Sri Chinmoy. Rather than risk sleeping on a spare couch, I booked a nearby B&B. More expensive, but you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

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I was greeted at the door by a rather flustered old lady. I mentioned I had booked a room and with this, an even more flustered old man appeared from the kitchen. He said in greeting:

“O no, this is the last thing I need!”

I think he was talking to himself out loud, but maybe he was talking to me.

He proceeded to unload all his burdens and frustrations. His elderly mother had let five gentlemen stay – despite them not having any reservations. As a result, my room was already taken, and it was really a great inconvenience now that I had shown up. He continued:

“I’ve had a very bad day, we’ve had a flood, methane gas escaping from the boiler, the builders causing a problem and my mother overbooking. With you turning up it’s really put the cap on my bad day.”

He explained there was one spare room left – not en-suite like the one I booked – but the room which had experienced a small flood.

I didn’t know whether to feel guilty for turning up or lucky to be given a musty room which was damp despite having no bathroom. Continue Reading →

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