A good checklist is selective – it doesn’t cover mistakes that are rarely made; no one goes on holiday without their suitcase. Or mistakes that don’t matter – toothpaste is available almost everywhere.
Faced with the choice of over a hundred 100 jams, I reduced the number of alternatives to 30 or so, and then ... well, I finally walked out of the shop without having bought any jam at all. People are overwhelmed by variety of choice.
Activities that are good in themselves are good for the economy, and activities that are bad in themselves are bad for the economy. The only intelligible meaning of “benefit to the economy” is the contribution – direct or indirect – the activity makes to the welfare of ordinary citizens.
The benefit of road improvements is principally the reduced time and strain on private motorists, not the economic advantages to road transport operators: that lesson should influence the way we plan our road networks. Fast roads for light traffic are much cheaper to build than superhighways.
If you want a book on economics to take to the beach, you are spoiled for choice at the airport bookstall. What you will find falls into three categories: Thump books, microeconomics books with little economics and the macroeconomic story-teller.
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