Nick J

Two specific questions regarding cable come to mind...

Poker is all over the place on television, but why is there not a dedicated Poker or (Gambling) Channel?

There has been a busts in many markets (auto, housing, finance) observed in the last few years, but why has there always been a growing number of TV channels. Why is that and will this hurt job growth considering the unemployed now have so many channels to watch?


Tipping after a meal.

Or more explicitly, tipping a server after a meal in a restaurant in which you are not a regular.


Homo Economicus would be the first thing that doesn't make sense. People are not completely informed nor do they make decisions dispassionately. Put another way, we're Kirk, not Spock. Spock, with his vast reserve of information and totally dispassionate decision making style is Homo Economicus. Kirk, making decisions by the seat of his pants with insufficient information, is a better description of real people in the economy.


Efficient markets


I love Economics taught via Star Trek examples. Every subject should be taught using Star Trek characters... in international relations, for example, the original Star Trek's Federation represented NATO whereas the Klingons were the Soviet Bloc. The Vulcans clearly represent the Germans. In the post-Cold War era, much like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Putin leads a resurgent Russia that looks like the Romulans - antagonistic, opportunistic, and untrustworthy. Meanwhile the Indians are Ferengi.


@Nick J -

I take it you are not familiar with the Poker Channel -

The US laws for poker/gambling go along way to explaining why there isn't something US-based, but if you look a little further a field you will find some top quality poker shows.

L F File

Austrian School.


purchase power parity



Star Trek is merely a convenient metaphor.


Speaking of cable, why we can't choose which cable channels we want instead of paying for a "gold package" with a lot of channels we'd never choose to watch?


Why is it socially accepted to tip a waiter more than say a barber or car washer?


The Billable Hour. I do not understand how the billable hour has not become an obsolete form of billing legal services. It breeds inefficiency, encourages unnecessary and often redundant provision of work, and ultimately costs more to clients in the long run.

Tom G

Regarding cable & satellite packages, it's the current business model accepted by networks & cable/satellite companies. To summarize, traditional cable networks make money two-fold: carriage fees & advertising. The more subscribers carried by providers, the more they can make in advertising.

Cable networks negotiate carriage fees and ad space with cable & satellite providers, and many times (Disney, FOX, Discovery, Viacom, NBC Universal etc) leverage their way onto the tiers. These tiers make it possible for networks to secure potential viewership, increasing ad revenue, which help pay for programming. With individual line-ups, this model fails because overnight ESPN and others would lose potential viewers.

With digital cable, it's now possible to deliver channels a la carte, but it would be difficult for cable/satellite providers to alter their agreements to offer channels a la carte. Imagine the fights Comcast or Time Warner would have trying to extract ESPN from basic. ESPN would have no incentive to lose potential households for its network or the litany of other ESPNs or Disney networks.

If advertising revenue is out of the picture, you'll pay a premium for programming like you would for Showtime/Cinemax.

This business model probably needs amending as online services like Hulu offer pay-per-view or monthly subscriptions. But, for the time being, it would be difficult for lumbering cable companies to adjust. Some possible options include more personalized ads and rating services.



Health care costs. The more abundant the providers, the higher the cost.


New Scientist doesn't say these are "things that science can't explain"--as if "science" were a thing, or a committee. It's a playful story about stuff people don't understand yet. "Science" is the process we use to keep hammering away at the questions.


The government does a bad job at something, so we raise taxes expecting performance to improve.


How come rational actor theory still has such a strong grip on economists despite tons and tons of scientific, social science based, and anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

more of the same

Artificially high property taxes so that the owner can get a 'rebate' or 'credit' to reduce their taxes to a lower excessive amount.

Christopher Strom

The private sector does a bad job at something, so we lower taxes and/or reduce regulations expecting performance to improve.

myron w


If a business venture with insufficient capitalization will probably fail, why should we expect anything different from an underfunded government program?

But to the question at hand:

Why should all other societal considerations be constrained by maximum market efficiency?

Wouldn't free market policies leading to social turbulance imply that the market is imposing externalities and therefore not in compliance with the theory of competitive markets that externalities are low?

Isn't it more correct to think of market regulation in terms of forcing economic agents to internalize the true costs of their actions and therefore a benefit to the competitive marketplace?