More Fuel on the Mommyblog Fire

January 8, 2008

Two points:

First, Falstaff is a cheap guy. He talks about Coase and childfree-airline tickets without referencing me.

Second, a more important point about mommyblogs in general.

I’ve been discussing this point with junta, and the consensus seems to be that kids will become irritating when they are given too much attention. The more attention a kid gets from its parents, the more it thinks of itself. It becomes spoilt, throws tantrums, and eventually the Kansa Society has to be called in.

This is also probably the reason why kids in Delhi and Chennai are the worst behaved. They’re brought up in environments full of doting female relatives. Jobless doting female relatives, who do nothing but stay at home. In the case of Chennai, because they actually are unemployed, and in the case of Delhi, because employment for Delhi women usually means fraud stay-at-home stuff like garment designing. With non-stop attention lavished upon it, the kid becomes a monster. While in Bombay, both the parents are off at work, the kid has to fend for itself, and grows up a clean and sober Goregaon type personality, with excellent social skills, and a bindaas attitude. In my months in Bombay, I saw Gujew aunties abusing Landmark for stocking books. I saw people expectorating with enthusiasm. I saw Jain monks in a fistfight. But I never saw kids throwing tantrums.

I have seen this with my own nephews and nieces also. The one who curls up with a Roald Dahl and generally doesn’t talk is the one whose parents are a doctor and a physiotherapist, and who therefore hardly see him. On the other hand, the Nephew Who Bites has lived his entire life with a stay-at-home mother, a stay-at-home grandmother, a drop-in-practically-ceaselessly grandmother, and a father who is an ameer-baap-ki-bigdi-aulaad, and so doesn’t need to work. Between these extremes, I have a soft-spoken and well-behaved niece whose parents run the nine-to-five gamut. And where I’m concerned, Ma and Papa used to just leave me alone and whack me every once in a while, and I am now a model of manners, rectitude, decency and sobriety. So much so, that people refuse to believe that I’m Punjabi.

Anyway, the point of all this is that a surplus of attention turns kids into monsters, fit only for slaughter by the Kansa Society.

And when it comes to giving kids too much attention, mommyblogging is the pinnacle. Think about it. You devote an entire blog to the kid, and nothing but the kid. And while in the normal course of things, the kid forgets the attention it gets as an infant, here the attention is public, archived, and up to be accessed at will. The Little Emperor generation created by the Chinese one-child policy will be as nothing compared to the generation created by mommyblogging. Legions of spoilt brats will stalk the nation, thinking too much of themselves.

Mommybloggers have a lot to answer for.

Coase and Kansa

November 22, 2007

On the flight back to Bangalore from Delhi, I was on seat 16D. There was a kid on 16C. There was another kid on 14C. And yet another somewhere around row 20. And they all howled through the flight.

Howling kids are always annoying but the problem is even worse on a flight. You can’t walk away to a quieter place. The kid can’t be taken away to a quieter place. You’re basically trapped listening to the howling kid.

In many ways, the situation is the reverse of Alex Tabarrok’s flu vaccination:

People who have the flu spread the virus so getting a flu shot not only reduces the probability that I will get the flu it reduces the probability that you will get the flu. In the language of economics the flu shot creates an external benefit, a benefit to other people not captured by the person who paid the costs of getting the shot. The external benefits of a flu shot can be quite large. Under some conditions each person who is vaccinated reduces the expected number of other people who get the flu by 1.5.

Since a large fraction of the benefits of the flu shot, perhaps even a majority of the benefits, go to other people and not to the person paying the costs, the number of people who get a flu shot in the United States is well below the efficient level.

In the case of Alex Tabarrok’s flu vaccination, there was an external benefit. However, in the case of howling kids, there is an external cost. The kid is suffering, but the kid’s howling makes all the other people in the aircraft suffer more.

What are the implications? Well, Alex Tabarrok is asking people who are benefiting from the positive externality to send him money to compensate him for creating the externality:

I just had my flu shot. Please send your checks to my George Mason address.

I only got the shot because, as you well know, I’m altruistic. I care about you. But do send your checks, that will help.

Applying the situation in reverse, the parents of the howling kid should give all the other passengers money to compensate for the suffering they have inflicted on them through their inconsiderateness. This has staggering implications. If each of the passengers is to be compensated 500 rupees for the suffering they have endured, that raises the cost of carrying a kid on board by 9 kilorupees. The best way to implement this would be to make the price of the ticket for a kid 9 kilorupees – in sharp contrast to Simplify Deccan’s abominable policy of letting infants travel in laps for only a 250 rupee surcharge- and give all other passengers a five hundred rupee discount or rebate.

Alex Tabarrok also says:

Of course, we know from the Coase Theorem that there is an alternative approach. We could charge people who do not get their flu shots. (Thus, if you haven’t had a shot you must still must send me a check.) Or to reduce transaction costs we could fine people who get the flu.

The equivalent of the fine in this case would be making the cost of the ticket for the kid 9000 rupees, but not distributing the extra money to the passengers. That would still have the beneficial effect of making it too expensive to carry your kid on board a flight.

Of course there is a way to cut out transaction costs entirely. You can bring in the Kansa Society, which will slaughter the kid. No howling, and no worrying about surcharge transfers. Oh sacred simplicity!

Divine Endorsement for TASK

November 6, 2007

After support from Shashi Tharoor and Ratan Tata, the Task Force for Annihilation of the Salwar Kameez gets backing from the big guns:

A change in the dress code for women entering Kerala’s famed Sree Krishna Guruvayoor temple has apparently annoyed the deity, according to an astrologer conducting rituals in the temple.

Speaking to IANS, temple manager Vijayan Nambiar said that astrologer Padmanabha Sharma while conducting the ashtamangalaya devaprasanam (astrological consultations) Sunday said that the deity was unhappy over the entry of women in salwar-kameez.

(link, via)

I don’t blame the deity. Any right thinking deity, even a Vaishnavite one, would be unhappy at seeing a salwar kameez. Anyway, this is good news. Our war against the salwar kameez can now be called a religious struggle, and we will become a votebank. Such joy.


August 16, 2007

I am starting another new NGO. This one is called TASK, or the Taskforce for the Annihilation of the Salwar Kameez. I will be the President and A Rod will be the Dictator for Life. And Ratan Tata will be the Patron Saint.

Cull the Kids Instead

April 1, 2007

Right. These days the BMP is klling stray dogs. This has a lot of animal lovers unhappy, leading to many anguished blogposts (two examples here and here). And inevitably these posts attract commentors who shrilly and hysterically go ‘But don’t you know that stray dogs are killing children? Are you more worried about dogs or children?’ Practically the only thing missing is the actual statement ‘Will someone please think of the children?

So I have the solution. After all I’m naturally brilliant. Rather than culling dogs, let the BMP cull kids who stray into public spaces instead.

This solution pleases everyone. Animal lovers will get to see Bangalore’s stray dogs gamboling wild and free. And with no kids on the streets, there will be no attacks on them by dogs either. And the BMP will surely kill the kids more humanely than it is killing the dogs.

Fewer children will also have beneficial downstream effects. To start with, it will reduce pressure on the strained and overburdened education system. Systematic culling will eventually attenuate the supply of students so much that there will no longer be a constraint in the number of university seats. Nobody will be tense about their board exams any more. With seats going free, reservations will also cease to be contentious. In fact, with no new generations to perpetuate it, the caste system itself will cease to exist.

And you thought that the Kansa Society was only about ensuring peace and quiet in restaurants and public transport. Piffle. Our agenda will transform the whole world into a paradise.

My New NGO

March 16, 2007

I am starting an NGO called the Kansa Society. Its aim is to promote the slaughter of irritating kids. I will be the Chairman Emeritus and Kodhi will be the President. But Jabberwock and Nilu are welcome to join.