The Pros and Cons of Choices

29 Jul

Let me start with an observation.

My wife, son and I travel to London from Edinburgh every few months. In theory, there are five ways to get to London: plane, train, taxi, driving or walking. In practice, only plane or train are viable options. I don’t want to drive for seven hours, I don’t want to spend seven hours in a taxi and I certainly don’t want to try walking over three hundred miles. In short, three of the five options are non-starters.

That leaves two.

On one hand, flying means spending only an hour cooped up with a toddler on a passenger aircraft. However, it also means a 40 minute trip to the airport, an hour in the airport waiting for the flight, being groped by airport security, the traditional bumpy flight and another hour or so travelling from Heathrow to London Kings Cross. Time: 3.5hrs. Cost (obviously variable, based on when you want to fly): £595.18.

On the other hand, the train goes from Edinburgh City Centre directly to Kings Cross. There are no security hassles, no absurd restrictions on baggage, a great deal more legroom and no turbulence. However, it means spending 4-5 hours in a train with a noisy toddler and, while the trolley service is better than airline food, it does tend to pall after several hours. Time: 4.5hrs. Cost: £136.

Now, as I noted above, there are a lot of variables here. If you buy an airline ticket weeks in advance, the price is often quite low. You can also get a reasonably cheaper train fare if you fiddle with the prices and suchlike – there’s also the reasonably excellent chance of being able to board a train and find a seat without needing to reserve in advance, not something you can do on the plane.

Point is, there are pros and cons to every choice.

Ok … so what?

There is no such thing as a perfect choice. I’d like to be able to step through a portal and arrive in London instantly. It’s not going to happen, barring a major technological breakthrough. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages. People pick the choice with the advantages that (they think) outweigh the disadvantages.

For example, if I was going to London to catch a plane to Malaysia, I would probably fly from Edinburgh. That would save me from having to find my way from Kings Cross to Heathrow. Even if I was going to London, there would be certain advantages to only been cooped up with a toddler for an hour … although I would also be cooped up with him in the taxi or tube.

But if I was going to London proper, I would probably prefer to take the train. There would be no hassle on the far end, no need to get into London and even room for my toddler to run around. And I’d have more comfort at a more reasonable price.

This whole train of thought was started by a discussion on politics; people wondering why certain categories of people would vote for Donald Trump. Others chimed in to wonder why people would vote for the Tories or the SNP or whoever. And still others wondered why anyone thought Angela Merkel could possibly win yet another German election.

In 2016, there were only two choices: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Both of them had their advantages and disadvantages. (The only other competitors had very little hope of winning a majority – their only real role was to act as a potential spoiler.) The electors therefore had to decide if they should hold their nose and vote for one … or the other.

A single-issue voter might decide to back one over the other because of that issue. But most voters are not single-issue voters. This is a problem with a person likes some of a candidate’s policies and dislikes others. For example, a homosexual voter might dislike Donald Trump’s stand on LGBQ policies, but like his stance on illegal immigration on terrorism. Or a businessman might approve Hillary’s stance on Wall Street, but disapprove of her position on Third World debt. No candidate enjoys complete approval from the vast majority of voters – they just have to choose the candidate closest to their views.


Or, as Homer Simpson put it, before voting for Sideshow Bob:

“I don’t agree with [Bob’s] Bart-killing policy, but I do approve of his Selma-killing policy.”


13 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Choices”

  1. Dave July 29, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

    Nor is it all about logic. Some people just like to travel by train / plane. Or have always voted for one party no matter who the candidate is or what their policies are

    • Billy July 30, 2017 at 3:00 am #

      I am very thankful Trump won.

      Hillary would have been Government by bribery. When you want her to do something, you give her money. (And a lot of it )

      Don’t give her foundation money and you will get nothing from her.

      She would have turned america into a banana republic.

      • Don July 30, 2017 at 5:37 am #

        Yeap Trump sure like to milk the office of the President. He seem to love golf and obsessed over Russia.

        Where is all the winning that I would be tired of it.

        I want health care fixed and something done about North Korea.

      • Sprout July 31, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

        I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under, but this is basically how the us government works. Currently money in politics is a huge issue. Basically most with the exception of very few, has and will go beg for money from wealthy donors in order to get elected.

        This is actually part of what made Trump so appealing to people, an outsider who doesn’t participate in the usual bullshit. Not to me personally, but I can see the chain of events well enough.

  2. merr49 July 30, 2017 at 5:15 am #

    Train are great
    Trains in my county have been having problems ever since a polition decided to weld the tracks together to make the ride smother. (- – – ——).

  3. clbeam July 30, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    I think you should re evaluate the car it may be a longer trip but it has freedom of moment, you will be bound by your own schedule. I assume you and your wife both have are valid drivers you could always switch and if any one need to use the falsities you can stop. if you want a more think of the children argument. taking a infant into a rail car or plane will be annoying to other and a health risk for the infant stuck in a small room with so many foreign people and there germs

  4. Billy July 30, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

    There are two options on the driving yourself with a car.

    My wife has to make a 7 hour trip every so often. (Every 3 or 4 months)

    Instead of using her car and having all that wear and tear on it,
    she rents a car. Renting a car , she gets the benefit of being able to drive a new car on her trip.

    The rental agreement here has unlimited mileage, just a charge by the day.

    Renting a vehicle may be a good choice, depending.

  5. merr49 July 31, 2017 at 10:34 am #

    What about the bus more options than the train. (Not shore what intercity bus’s are like in your country but in mine its a thing).

  6. Anarchymedes July 31, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    Don’t get me started on Trump (again), but… what’s wrong with driving for 7 hours? It must be summer in the UK now, no snow, no ice – a nice day’s trip, and saves you bucketloads of money, too. Here in Australia it would be a non-event: one guy I work with drove himself and the family from Melbourne to Darwin (not sure, but must be around 3000 clicks), and I drove from Townsville to Darwin (2500 clicks). And Australia, especially the Northern part, isn’t nearly as densely populated as the UK: there may be literally absolutely nothing for a hundred clicks.

    • sjallen343 July 31, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

      Was some fun times when there were open speed limits.
      Straightest. Road. Ever.

    • Pyo July 31, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

      Dunno what petrol prizes in Australia are (probably comparatively low?) but in Western Europe chances are that a 7-hour trip back and forth isn’t _that_ much cheaper than a cheap train or plane ticket (hard to generalize. In France for example you’d also have to pay to use their motorways, while in Germany you wouldn’t have to).

      And of course you have to expect traffic everywhere, which can be exceptionally annoying.

      Trains are fairly relaxed unless you have to stress about connecting ones, and the kids can run around a bit.

      On mainland Europe there’s lately also been some improvement in long distance buses – not reaaally suited for a family with small kids, but super-cheap.

  7. Veraenderer August 1, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    “And still others wondered why anyone thought Angela Merkel could possibly win yet another German election.”

    Whoever wonders why Angela Merkel will win the next election has no idea of germany.

    Basicly it give in germany following political parties: CDU, SPD, FDP, Grüne, Linke, Afd
    The AFD is far to right for the mainstream and the infighting is strong in the partie.
    The Linke is to left for most and they have decided that they want to be in the opposition (so no coalation)
    The FDP is seen as the lobby party of the rich and Neo-Liberalism isn’t very popular in germany,
    The Grüne are sometimes weird.
    The SPD is the second most popular political party but since the Agenda 2010 and a lack of charismatic leaders the party is on Bundesebene on the backfoot, but still strong in some of the local elections (Hamburg for example). Their chancellor candidate is Martin Schulz (who is as boring and uncharismatic as Merkel and isn’t seen as more capable).
    The CDU is the biggest political party. Their chancellor candidate is Angela Merkel.

    The CDU wants traditionly make a coalition with the FDP, while the SPD wants traditionly make a coalition with the Grünen. If both, the SPD and the CDU, don’t have enough seats with their prefered coalition partner they create a “Große Koalition” basicly SPD and CDU gouverns together with the bigger parties chancellor candidate becoming chancellor.

    So all in all Angela Merkels victory is certain.

  8. Shrekgrinch August 3, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    That choice logic with regard to travel is exactly the problem the bogus High Speed Train to Nowhere here in California is doomed thereby.

    EVEN IF it were built to go from San Francisco to LA (which it is currently not going to be…hence the title ‘Train to Nowhere’), the cost would be so high relative to flying for 20 minutes for as cheap as $120 or taking the Greyhound bus for $40 on a 7 hour trip, nobody would use it unless the ticket prices were heavily subsidized.

    BTW, ‘electors’ in the US means Electors of the Electoral College. That is why the term voters is used instead or ‘electorate’ (which means the voters and not the Electors, confusing I know but I didn’t make up these rules). And the Electors usually are chosen loyalists of the candidate who vote for them no matter what, which is expected. The few Electors who stray are called Faithless Electors and are usually never chosen to be Electors again.

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