Sit-up or pay up

Thought Provoking

Tim Harford on how economists can help you get a six-pack.

If I do not do 200 press-ups and 200 sit-ups each week, they’ll start sending my money to a charity, $100 at a time. (I chose the hugely deserving DC Central Kitchen.) They will shortly offer the same dubious privilege to countless others via a new company, – customers name their own pledges, sign pro-forma contracts, and put their cheques in the post.

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Travel Insurance

Thought Provoking, Travel

From the Undercover Economist

My girlfriend and I were planning to fly to Frankfurt on a budget airline. We were offered travel insurance, which I didn’t think was worth the £4.95. Still, my girlfriend insisted on both of us taking the insurance. Assuming the chance of surviving a plane crash is negligible, you do not get to enjoy the benefits of the insurance should a disaster happen. Most likely your family will get paid for your death. So the worst-case scenario is that you’re £4.95 poorer and dead; or at best, alive, but still £4.95 poorer. What is the rationality of taking out the insurance?

Great answer, especially the final line of the answer.

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Boring Millionaires


Another interesting story from Vallywag about an entrepreneur during the early days of tech. The funniest paragraph is shown below.

Too many Valley millionaires have no good stories to tell, and no firsthand advice on getting rich other than “Get hired at Google in 2002.” That doesn’t qualify you to be a VC, or to start your own company, or hahaha to make it as a model. It makes you what Burn Rate author Michael Wolff dubbed “the walking dead” — rich guys no one wants to talk to. And if you’ll pardon my snobbery: Suddenly having a lot of free time and a new laptop doesn’t make you a writer. Are boring, self-aggrandizing Googler memoirs now circulating among book agents and publishers? Tragically, yes.

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