Smart guy

I should have a series entitled "Smart People" because there are a lot of them out there. Like Tim Harford. He's a British economist and excellent writer. That guy's brain must be bubbling all the time, and what spills out in his book and elsewhere is both informative and entertaining. I don't know how people achieve that balance.

Here's an example:

The other day I was hurrying to lunch on somebody else’s expense account at a very nice Washington restaurant, The Oval Room. I began to fret that clad in my weathered racing green leather coat, I had as much chance of talking my way into the White House across the street as getting past the maitre’d without a jacket and tie.

Summoning up indignation in advance, I angrily asked myself why anyone would turn away the guest of a paying customer. Scruffs pay the bill the same as anyone else, so isn’t the dress code of jacket and tie commercial suicide?

Actually, the smart restaurateur, armed with the swift feedback of market forces, does what governments tend to find rather difficult: balance the competing interests of different people. Some people will pay to eat a meal surrounded by the smart set. Other people will pay to eat a meal without having to dress up. The restaurateur gets to decide whose wishes count - the snobs or the slobs.

He then proceeds to discuss economics, and I can hardly tell he is. I read an excerpt of his book, and the economic explanations were interesting and virtually painless there, too.

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