Saturday, February 16, 2013
A couple years ago (in my very first blog post!) I had an idea to give retail consumers the chance to round up their total and donate the difference to charity. Cash payers would not have to deal with lame coins, and plastic payers would see a nice flat charge on their bill.
Now it looks like somebody has implemented this idea online. Change Round-Up rounds online purchases to the nearest dollar and donates the rounded amount to charity. I'm glad that somebody else has had the idea, and I'm not surprised that the first implementation is online given the relative ease of augmenting online retail infrastructure. I hope to see Change Round-Up at more online retailers soon.
I am still interested in making this happen for brick and mortar stores. If you want to help, let me know and maybe we can get something going!
Speeding fines are designed to reduce speeding by increasing incentives to not drive over the limit, which is presumably set to optimize the balance between safety, time savings, and gas costs. In theory, drivers wanting to avoid paying a hefty sum will keep to a lower speed. But that can only happen when drivers believe they will be fined for speeding, when the punishment is a credible threat. And that pretty much can only happen when there are cops around. So people speed when there are no cops, and don't speed when there are cops. I do it, you do it, everybody (with the exception of old Ft. Lauderdale Jews who can't see out the windshield) does it.
So one issue is that drivers speed when there are no cops around. Some attempts have been made to fill those gaps with other enforcement technologies (i.e. radar and plane observation), but my guess is that little signs on the side of road are not terribly effective. Additionally, cops often position themselves out of easy sight. While probably a tactic to help them reach their monthly ticket quotas, this strategy could potentially smooth out the differences in speed by creating a variable schedule.
But there is another issue at hand, rising from the following question: how do drivers determine whether or not there is a cop around? The answer is simple (they look around), but the implications are significant. Anything that distracts drivers from giving their full attention to the road and prevents them from concentrating on safe driving practices is bound to cause undesirable effects. In this way, by trying to avoid cops so they can travel at unsafe speeds, drivers can become even more unsafe! To the extent to which this effect is more unsafe than high speed driving, perhaps we have too many (or is it too few?) cops on the road.
While waiting for the Giants game start after a rain delay, I finished up my taxes (finally). When the game finally came on four hours later, I was impressed --in addition to Timmy's 10 K's, Panda's power and a great Giants victory-- by the number of fans still in attendance after such a long break in crappy weather.
...Which got me thinking. Did all those fans stay in the ballpark, or did they go to nearby bars to wait out the rain? I know what I would have done: $9 beers are not gonna cut it when there's no baseball to watch.
That is the reason stadiums and other venues can charge such high prices for food and drink. While you are captivated by their exclusive offering (live baseball, big screen movie, or rollercoasters), you are (unhappily) willing to pay $9 for a crappy beer or $5 for a bag of cheap popcorn. But if that attraction isn't there, why would you stay?
Based on this intuition, I have a recommendation for baseball teams. When there is a rain delay, drop the price of beer and food to more standard levels. More fans will stick around, which means a better atmosphere and more money for the team. You might have to keep the prices low once the game starts to avoid pissing fans off, but keeping fans in the stadium will be well worth it.
Perhaps teams could turn rain delays into exciting party times. Just imagine a bunch of fans hanging out by the food vendors with music playing. With that kind of awesomeness, I'd almost hope for a rain delay!
I have an interesting relationship with TV. I love watching it, but I know that there are probably better things I can be doing with that time. I guess it comes down to a laziness factor: I love lying on my couch and vegging out, but I know I could be more productive.