New street lamps.
I knew that the council were installing new streetlamps. They flagged it up months ago, when they were resurfacing the road. Then last week there was a letter, telling us they were going to do it now. Then holes appeared in the pavement, and then the posts for the new streetlamps. Instead of being on the kerbside like the old ones, they're on the inside of the pavement, right up against the wall, which is good as it makes parking easier and frees up extra space.
But what a surprise to look out this morning and see the new lamp, in all its retro-Victoriana glory. The sort of thing you might expect in a twee new development, or a tourist hot spot, or a museum... But not in a little cul-de-sac side street off the A57. I wonder how well it will stand up to the weather compared to the previous ones.
For anyone who would like to look at more pictures of street lamps, there are plenty here.
Street lights are interesting to economists because they represent a non-excludable public good. It's impossible to limit the enjoyment of them to the people who paid for them. Once someone has paid, everyone benefits whether they've contributed or not. This means that in a classic free market, they are unlikely to be provided. Everyone will want everyone else to pay, and no one will want to fork out for something that others will enjoy for free, at their expense. So non-excludable public goods provide a good argument for taxation to provide services. You can make it a social contract argument - everyone would be happy to pay their share, as long as they could be sure that everyone else was also paying their share, so they would willingly agree to taxation in order to ensure that everyone pays, and everyone benefits.