Page 45 Review by Stephen
I came a sceptic and left enlightened - with a few extra laugh-lines on my face.
Education should always be made as entertaining as possible. That's my contention, and I'll let you know if I ever get the hang of it. You're more likely to stay the course, remember the material and master the subject on hand. Economics doesn't half sound dry, not to mention abstract, but the genius of Bauman is that he humanises the basic principles of microeconomics broken down into chunks, so showing the theory in everyday practice. With the help of Neanderthal Mog, a gang of pirates and a man trapped on a desert island (okay, not so everyday there), you'll quickly comprehend exactly how optimizing individuals making decisions for their own benefit can, through interaction, contribute to the maximum practical benefit for all. That, in Stephen The Stupid terms is precisely what a healthy economy means. Rather than the road to mutual ruin which results in, say, a traffic jam (or, as you'll see, longer jail sentences!), some circumstances show self-interest serving the common good.
Take Page 45. I've always been up front about the fact that our primary goal is born out of total self-interest: we want to make as much money as possible. Our chosen method is to introduce as many of the best comics out there to the widest possible readership by a) stocking those comics b) promoting those comics as eloquently as we can, and c) targeting them as accurately as we can in order to build trust and so generate further sales down the line. It works! Our self-interest is successfully achieved. However, the common good is also served on many fronts: 1) the best creators make more money than they would otherwise, 2) the shop contributes to the local community by paying its business rates and drawing in customers from all over the country who presumably buy at least a coffee somewhere else too, 3) the shop contributes to the national economy by paying its taxes, 4) the shop helps Diamond and other distributors make more money, 5) oh, and the better publishers too, 6) you lot gain access to comics you might otherwise never have heard of, and 7) as a direct consequence you are, all to a man, almost broke. Sorry, culturally fulfilled!
The Paradox Of Thrift, Asymmetric Information, Marginal Analysis, Variance, Sunk Costs and Adverse Selection, however bewildering they may sound, are all made as plain as day through showing how roulette is a mug's game except to a casino owner (Variance and the Law of Large Numbers), how drug companies are lying through their teeth when they claim their extortionate prices are set simply to recoup the money spent developing them (that's a sunk cost with absolutely no role in determining prices), and why private American health care is so expensive for all as to be unaffordable to most.
Once again Bauman has chosen his examples well, for they're all pertinent to our everyday lives including The Prisoner's Dilemma which is an absolute revelation. In fact this book isn't about teaching you definitions, it's about helping you comprehend what's happening around and to you, and so informing the choices you make. Similarly much of the humour involves our current obsessions whether it's Facebook, computer games or surviving the sea without scurvy. The cartooning aint all that but it does work which is the most important thing: it gives Yoram the space to make witty outcome tables, side-jokes and all sorts of diversions that wouldn't normally be possible in his stand-up routine. And it gives you to the time to absorb the underlying information in comprehensible bites.