September 19, 2013

How much does parenting matter?

Not much. This and many other questions are asked and answered in Freakonomics Radio: “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting”.

One of many great outtakes.

I think that the hardest thing as a parent is to admit that you’re going to take risks with your child’s life, to actually admit out loud, I take risks with my child’s life. If you said that at a cocktail party, people would look at you like you were a monster.

But of course we take risks with our lives everyday. I take Matilda out on to the sidewalk and we cross streets. Every time we cross a street we’re taking a risk. It’s not risk free to cross the street, or to ride the subway, or to go in the car. Almost everything we do has risks, and as economists I think Justin and I are really comfortable with thinking about risks and making decisions with them. And that means we have to face the really painful thing, which is we take risks with our child’s life.”

Plastic or Paper? (banknotes)

The Bank of England plans to move to cash made from polymer instead of cotton paper. But we have some illusions as to what constitutes money – and from where it gets its value.

I recall two musicians, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond – famous as dance band The KLF – filming themselves burning £1m of their own money almost 20 years ago.

There was outrage at the waste – despite the fact that, as Mr Drummond himself pointed out, all they had done was burn a pile of paper. He had destroyed his own ability to purchase goods and services, but no actual productive capacity had been destroyed – so, logically speaking, he’d donated £1m (in the form of lower inflationary pressure) to the nation. And, if the BoE had objected, it could have printed another £1m quite easily. Yet few people can bring themselves to accept that argument.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *