In The Price of Fish, Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris examine in a unique way the world’s most abiding and wicked problems – sustainability, global warming, over-fishing, overpopulation, the pensions crisis; all of which are characterized by a set of messy, circular, aggressive and peculiarly long-term problems – and go on to suggest that it is not the circumstances that are too complex, but our way of reading them that is too simple. Too simple and often wrong.
Economics also often overlooks the individual tendency to make choices that are contrary to enlightened self-interest. In fact, communities tend to be better than individuals at reaching logical economic decisions.
People are bad at making intertemporal decisions such as saving today for tomorrow’s future. For instance, in Chennai, India, street vendors pay high interest rates to get enough capital to conduct business. These same desperately poor micro entrepreneurs also buy two cups of tea a day. A vendor who skips one cup of tea daily could save enough in a month to do business debt-free. Yet most street sellersa re unable or unwilling to commit this seemingly simple act of self-discipline.