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What to do With an Old Pair of Shoes?
Today I went into my closet and realized that I had an old pair of shoes that I no longer wore. The shoes are still pretty serviceable, so I’ve been wondering what I should do with them. To an economist, this question does not have an easy answer.
Here are my options:
Throw them away. By doing this, I would probably destroy any value that the shoes might still have in the global economy. They’d just take up space in a landfill somewhere, with the attendant cost to society. That’s where organizations like Planet Aid come in.
“When you drop off your unwanted items in one of our many conveniently located yellow drop boxes, you divert them from a trip to the landfill or incinerator,” their website proclaims. “Your donated items will find new life with a new owner, who will value them as much as you did when you first purchased them.” Which brings me to my next option…
Donate them. As luck would have it, there’s a Planet Aid box down the street from me that collects clothes and shoes for shipping to countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But economists often refer to organizations like Planet Aid as part of the “Stuff We Don’t Want” or “SWEDOW” problem. It sounds like a nice idea to give the things we no longer use to poor people in other countries, but sometimes our gifts can be more trouble than they’re worth.
If we deluge poor countries with free used clothing and shoes, we’ll cripple local sellers and manufacturers of those products. Moreover, the money we spend to ship the SWEDOW overseas might do more good in the pockets of the people we’re trying to help. To figure out whether donating still makes sense, Scott Gilmore of Building Markets made up a handy flowchart. In many cases, the flowchart recommends selling the SWEDOW and sending the money to help poor people to buy products locally or use it as they see fit. Which brings me to my next option…
Sell them on eBay. Fortunately, human ingenuity has created the world’s biggest marketplace for second-hand shoes. I may be able to get some cash for these shoes, though I’m not sure how much I’d be able to charge given the cost of shipping them. If they’re worth $20 to someone and shipping is $10, then there’s only $10 left for me – and that’s before paying eBay’s fees. But I’m not sure I really want to take photos, list the shoes online, and make a special trip to the post office for $9 and change. I’m guessing my hourly rate would be better at McDonald’s.
So what should I do? Even if I wanted to donate the proceeds from selling the shoes on eBay, I may be better off just tossing them and writing a check. Of course, the situation might be different if the shoes were more valuable or if I could gain some economies of scale by selling a whole lot of SWEDOW. As things stand, though, I’m left with the uncomfortable feeling that I have no good options to dispose of these shoes – and that’s something to consider next time I’m thinking of buying a pair.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.