Monday, July 17, 2006

Incentives

For a little 'light' reading, I'm currently enjoying "The Armchair Economist" by Steven Landsburg. I read it for a managerial economics course a couple years ago and was fascinated by Mr. Landsburg's ideas. Really, if anyone is even remotely interested in economics, you have to check out this book!!

Anyhoo, he devotes the first chapter to one of the eternal laws of economics; people respond to incentives. My favorite bit was when he pointed out that seat belt laws resulted in an increased number of accidents. His argument is that when people think they are safer in their cars they drive more recklessly. Before, when their cars were less safe, people had an incentive to drive safely. Of course, safer cars meant fewer deaths per accident, but the number of accidents increased to the point that there are as many deaths now, after the seat belt laws, as there were before the laws were enacted. Please don't misinterpret, this man is not against seat belts. He just tries to find reasons for seemingly odd occurrences. Afterall, another law of economics says that all human behavior is rational. There's no accounting for taste, but people tend to act rationally. So, economists like to find the rational reasons behind seemingly irrational behaviors; like why products see an increase in sales when a celebrity, even one without a particular expertise, endorses the product. Why buy Pepsi just because some famous actor/actress is being paid to say they like it? Actually, he comes up with a pretty good answer, but you'll have to read the book to find out.

The point is, after reading this chapter I've started thinking about what some of my incentives are. Here are some I came up with:

1. I shower so I don't feel grimy. I love when I get out of the shower feeling all clean and fresh, but I hate the thought of showering. I'm not sure why.

2. I read the Old Testament so I don't look and feel foolish when standing in front of my class every other Sunday. A wonderful side effect of this is what I actually learn from studying the Old Testament.

3. This week I'm going to work at 8am instead of 9am in order to marginally make up for the many hours I lost because I took three days off last week for the Shakespear Festival.

4. I write in my journal 1) to have someone to tell all my secrets to, 2) therapy, 3) to pass on what I've learned and who I am to my descendants.

5. I call people to organize getting together with them, NOT to chat forever. Unfortunately, I don't get to see all my loved ones all the time, so speaking with them on the phone is the next best alternative.

6. I wear shoes I think are ugly because they are comfortable and airy.

7. I read to learn and to escape.

8. I'm staying in Cedar (at least for the time being) so I can be close to my family, to play with my friends, and because the thought of quitting my job makes me sad.

9. I like cooking because I enjoy mixing things together to make something wonderful, the smells, and because I like to eat.

10. I'm not married because I don't date. I won't list the reasons I don't date; they're too numerous and personal (sorry).

11. I stay up late at night to finish a good book, to play Monopoly on my cell phone, to talk to friends, to think about work, to daydream (I know, it's silly to daydream at night but I can't seem to help it), to watch a movie or "As Time Goes By", or to clean/organize my room.

12. I pay tithing because it's a commandment and because I've been blessed too many times to ignore.

13. I sing to entertain myself and my nephews and niece. To everyone else, I'm sorry.

14. I dream because there are so many places to go, people to meet, and things to do and I want to experience them ALL!

15. I pray to thank God, seek inspiration and guidance, and just to talk to my Father.

10 comments:

tearese said...

That was quite informative, and it really makes you think. I don't like the thought of having to take a shower either, but like you, I'm always glad that I did.
What did you do at the Shakespear festival?
I used to love writing in my journal for the same reasons, but now that I'm married I have the hardest time feeling inspired to write. I guess its 'cause I have someone else to talk to now?

FrogTracks said...

I liked this post on incentives...it made me think of why I do what I do. Probably Karma, cause and effect. Anyway I'm not shore why people have hard time with showers/hot tubs... I love them! This list sounds like a good recipe to give one peace and joy!

Cardine said...

"...to watch a movie or 'As Time Goes By,'" - what does that mean? What is "As Time Goes By?"

That was a great post. I always like to philosophize about why we do the things we do. It's good that you know.

Framed said...

It's funny. I've given up analyzing why I do the things I do. Maybe I'm just not very analytical. But I enjoyed reading why you do what you do. I've often wondered.

Adam said...

No need to apologize. I liked hearing you sing.

I can certainly see how one could take the point of view that everything we do is based on incentives.

I'm not sure that would be my own philosophy of the choices I make or the things I do, but I don't disagree.

Thanks for sharing!

julie said...

Adam, thank you, that was sweet to say about my singing. I won't argue, though I'm tempted. :)

Cardine, "As Time Goes By" is a British sitcom I adore. I finally broke down and bought the entire series (nine seasons) a month ago. A few nights I stayed up really late watching it.

Tearese, I watched plays at the festival; all 6. Many members of my extended family come to Cedar every year and we go to the play, eat, and visit. It's a lot of fun. This year my favorite play was Hamlet. Brian Vaughn played Hamlet and was absolutely wonderful. I also thoroughly enjoyed Merry Wives of Windsor, Room Service (also with Brian Vaughn), and HMS Pintafore. The other two plays were On Golden Pond (most people really loved it, but I just liked it) and Antony and Cleopatra (zzzz). A&C could have been great, but it wasn't, unfortunately. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading, everybody!!

Refi said...

That is interesting how people think that modern conviniencies and technology will compensate for becoming stupider. Although I don't see why they would drive recklessly because of a seat belt, since I've been in accidents and they are not fun, even if the belt saved me from merging with the winshield.

As for my own incentives, I will have to think about it. Thank you for this thought-provoking post!

booklogged said...

Jewels, I enjoyed reading this post. What am I saying?! I enjoy ALL your posts. I still mulling over what my incentives are for my weird behaviors. I'm afraid the answer to all of them is comfort. Just keep me cool, fed, watered and provide me with good reading material, solitude and I'll be comfortable and happy. Oh, and a nice pillow and quilt at night. Is my life really that simple?! (rhetorical question - please don't answer. I'm working through this myself.)

Alyson said...

The first thing that comes to mind after reading this post is that I hate to go to bed at night and I hate waking up in the morning. I've always thought that was interesting. I think I hate going to bed because I have so much to do and want to get things done, but in the morning that reasoning is long forgotten in the wonderfulness of sleep. And so I sleep in too long because I love to sleep. Kind of a catch 22. Maybe someday I'll be one of those morning people who wake up early even if they go to sleep late. Hahaha

c jane said...

I read mes bijoux because it's always interesting and makes me think.