Something fishy about economics
WHAT a challenge it must be to study economics these days. Particularly if also wishing to make sense of the word. Yet economics remains up there with business studies in popularity.
A “switchable” career path awaits the eager young economist. Everything is subject to economics in one way or other. Where it all gets a bit confusing is when economics begins the inevitable co-habitation with the politics of the day. What are obviously apples on Monday, become pears by the weekend, even when using the same data.
If the fishing industry is anything to go by, economics goes deep sea. Three-quarters of the fish we catch in UK waters is exported to the European Union, whilst the vast majority of the fish we eat in the UK is imported. In economics, the consumer choice factor is particularly odd.
Arms began waving at the very suggestion of we Brits having less choice in what we eat in future, particularly anything to do with fish.
Less choice is, in theory, an economic positive, despite the chucklesome arrays lining the supermarket shelves convincing us otherwise.
How exactly the economics student will reconcile the choice of 40 different styles of bread, the dilemma of choosing one of 37 different type of teabag, and browsing enough toothpaste brands than there are human teeth, with fairness in the supply chain, and the wonky playing fields of competition, is anyone’s guess.
Equally troublesome is the prospect of encountering a “double whammy” of import/ export tariffs.
We have the absurd example of a pizza company importing flour and tomatoes from Italy (with a potential import tariff) only to then export their industrial-scale frozen pizzas back to Europe (with an export tariff to add to the flavour).
The UK has some of the finest specialist flour producers in the world, and we can even grow tomatoes if we try hard enough.
One might even question the economics of importing European pizza boxes to add to the tariff whammy. Is it the economics or the politics messing things up?
Well, it depends how you fancy both an import and an export tariff until you start taking economics seriously.
On Boxing Day, 23 million people in the UK will go shopping. But not until we have thrown the equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper (enough to wrap an area the size of Nottingham twice over) into a hundred million black bin liners within a 24-hour period.
Hardly room for the five million plastic Christmas trees that get dumped within a week of purchase. The economics of choice. Probably easier to sort out than the fish problem.
David Briggs The Green Kingston on Soar