Friday, October 24, 2008

Get On Your Bikes

Dom Sansom (Suva) writes to the editor of the Soloman Star, the island’s leading Daily Newspaper, 24 October, HERE:

“DEAR EDITOR – If you are worried about the global economic downturn how it may affect us, the father of economics, Adam Smith, (1723-1790) and author of The Wealth of Nations, theorised that the behaviour of rational people is governed by enlightened self-interest.

It’s hard to think of a better example of enlightened self-interest than giving up the car and going by bicycle.

Do that and you’re guaranteed to save a four-figure sum (self interest part) every year while dramatically reducing your carbon footprint and helping the environment (enlightened part) at the same time.

If divorcing the car is a step too far, cycling to work just three days a week could easily save you hundreds of dollars a year, while contributing to your fitness and well-being.”

But why do readers buy cars in the first place, all imported into the Soloman Islands, along with bicycles too?

Yes, because people can afford them. Adam Smith noted that people had ‘a coach and four’ because they were rich; they weren’t rich because they had a coach and four; and the same with car ownership and bicycle use. They will do what they do because they can or can’t do it (some people who can afford to drive cannot ride a bicycle).

Dom Sansom’s letter, however, is topical; the Island’s Prime Minister, Dr Derek Sikua, is in court charged with driving under the influence of liquor. Perhaps the good Dr will lead the way by taking up his bicycle and save money, reduce his carbon footprint, and save the environment too. More likely, the taxpayer will provide him with a personal driver.

But Dom Sansom is to be congratulated by applying modern economics (though not quite Smithian) to a problem and, with a single policy, addressing several objectives too.



Blogger Velomancer said...

I confess I worte this letter... but not to the Solomon Star. It was to the Editor of the Fiji Times. This is not a problem I s'pose as long as the message gets across. Dom

3:00 am  

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