Octavo Dia

Friday, April 27, 2012

Airlines Should Charge Baggage Fees for Carry-Ons.

When the airlines introduced the baggage fee for checked baggage, people responded, as economic theory would predict, by reducing their consumption of checked baggage.  The new baggage fees, however, also changed the demand for the substitute good of carry-on baggage.  Since carry-on baggage is still free, people have an incentive to consume as much of it as possible--leading to ever larger carry on bags and "personal items".

However, just because it's free doesn't mean it is without cost:

  • The airline bears the cost of creating a separate stream of luggage handling (the gate check).
  • All the passengers (and the airline) bear the cost of increased boarding and de-planing times (as people wrestle with luggage).
  • The passengers who board last are often shut out of the "free" resource and have to sacrifice their comfort (legroom) because of 
If the airlines did add a carry on fee (or at least enforced the carry-on size limitations), people would value it appropriately, rather than forcing the costs off on the airline and their fellow passengers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Socially Acceptable Eating Disorders

Have you ever noticed that far more women take up restrictive diets than men do? The vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, low-this, high-that, diets? (I'm excluding the ones purely for weight loss and those for a legitimate health need, e.g., gluten free for those with Celiac disease.) Maybe it's just that women talk about food a lot more than men do. Maybe it's because women are just naturally more attuned to their health than men are, but maybe not.

Most eating disorders aren't actually about the food: they're about control. When a (usually) woman thinks her life is spinning out of control, she fixates on her diet, one thing she can control. Every time she doesn't eat something, it's a mini-victory. An affirmation that she is in control.

But whereas eating disorders like anorexia are recognized as such and roundly condemned, a woman who goes on a restrictive diet gains not only control, but often a community of like-minded individuals, praise ("I could NEVER do that!"), and innumerable opportunities to set herself apart as special ("Oh, I'm sorry, but I can't eat that.")

In short, more women than men are on restrictive diets because it is a socially acceptable eating disorder.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Set Term Limits Without Setting Term Limits

It's really quite simple, every time you run for re-election, you have to win by a greater margin than you did in the previous election. So, the first time you're elected, if "x" is the number of votes cast, you have to win 0.5x + 1 in order to win. If you stand for reelection, you have to win 0.51x + 1 votes to win, a second reelection would require 0.52x + 1 to win, and so on. This would automatically offset the incumbent's advantage in seeking re-election, but it would allow a truly popular and effective leader to win more terms than a strict term limit allows.