The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

see, algebra is useful

Stephen has posted on Philosophically Made about a young woman who kindly picked up a 5c piece he had dropped. He asks if it is worth picking them up at all.

Well if it takes 10 seconds to pick up a 5c coin, then if you are paid more than $18 an hour it is simply not worth your time.

(10 seconds = 1/360 of an hour
360 x 0.05 = $18.00)

But given that the average wage is approx $20.25 then for many workers (and many more beneficiaries) you should pick them up while you still can.


Richard said...

But how about the energy expended in bending over? That might be using up a couple of cents of food. ;)

STC said...

I think a 5c coin is worth less than five cents, I mean, when was the last time you actually paid the bus driver in 5c coins? They get really angry if you try to give them a pile of twenty cents, plus you always lose 5c coins in various ways.

The point my economics teacher made was about marginal utility - is 5c enough for me to bother picking it up? If it is on the floor of the uni cafetaria, that means you have to place your hand in a potentially very dirty place.
Its potentially much more cost effective to avoid that and walk away.

Asher said...

I have a magical 5 cent coin, I've had it for about 4 months now.

I have a small hole in the coins part of my wallet, which is just big enough for a 5 cent coin to fall out of. Which it does. EVERY DAY.

So at the end of every day, I pull my wallet out of my pocket, pull the 5 cent coin out, put it back inside the wallet.

It's become such a tradition that even when I have the chance, I don't want to spend it.

Xavier said...

[Scientist hat]You're calculations are based on the implicit assumption that a person picking up 5 cent coins would be doing so for every 10seconds of every hour for (presumably) 8 hours a day. I don't believe that that assumption is justifiable. Could you come up with a way of testing it?[/scientist hat]

span said...

X - No I'm basing it on the assumption that the person's time is worth 5c per 10s. so they are taking 10s out of their other activities to pick up the 5c piece.

You are correct that they would have to be performing the pickup during working hours for my calculation to really have any validity though.