They serve no purpose.

Question: why do men have nipples? They serve no purpose.
Answer: Because females need nipples and generating a male body without nipples is biologically too complicated.

Welcome to Costs Matter, a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to better manage costs. The costs are frequently economic though not always. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim these costs are the only reason things are as they are. To read more in the series, visit https://medium.com/galileo-onwards/costs/home.

Humans (and, for all I know, all sexually reproducing species) have a huge…


Image taken from Hy Conrad’s Giant Book of Whodunit Puzzles (1999) © publisher. Usage: fair use.

You can brute force the solution to a puzzle but should you?

There’s a class of puzzles, called logic puzzles, which can be solved by simple programs. For instance, consider the following puzzle titled “Inspector Walker feels the heat”. It is taken from Hy Conrad’s Giant Book of Whodunit Puzzles (1999, pg 115–6).

Rather than copy/pasting the puzzle (not easy when I have a print version), below is a summary. (If you want to read it, you can see the puzzle on Google Books [link].) The puzzle is as follows:

A crime has been committed. The police have 5 suspects at least one of whom is guilty. The suspects are Chase, Decker…


Question: Why did Jeff Bezos, then working in New York, establish his startup all the way across the country in Seattle, Washington?
Answer: Because Washington’s small population meant buyers from the more populous states would not need to pay sales taxes thereby reducing Amazon’s costs.

Welcome to Costs Matter, a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to better manage costs. The costs are frequently economic though not always. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim these costs are the sole cause. …


Image generated by author using figlet. License: public domain.

Question: Why regardless of your ailment do hospitals check your vitals (height, weight, pulse rate, blood pressure etc)?
Answer: Because the doctor might need these vitals and his time is more valuable than the time cost of a useless measurement. This saves costs — possibly in lives.

Welcome to Costs Matter, a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to better manage costs. The costs are frequently economic though not always. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim these costs are the sole cause. …


Question: Why does Apple provide free engraving for its earphones (AirPods® and other variants), tablets (iPad® and variants), and other products? [ref]
Answer: Because the engraving reduces their resale value, which reduces the resale market’s supply, which increases new product sales thereby increasing profits.

Welcome to Costs Matter, a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to better manage costs. The costs are frequently economic though not always. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim these costs are the sole cause. To read more in the series, visit https://medium.com/galileo-onwards/costs/home.


Question: Why are the turn signals (direction indicators) on a Volkswagen always left of the steering wheel?
Answer: Because it keeps their manufacturing costs down.

Welcome to Costs Matter, a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to better manage costs. The costs are frequently economic though not always. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim these costs are the only reason things are as they are. To read more in the series, visit https://medium.com/galileo-onwards/costs/home.

Image taken from volkswagen.co.in (pdf) © the website. Usage: Fair Use.

Compare the above image with a left-hand-drive Volkswagen.


Because licensing and royalties cost less than producing original content.

Question: Why don’t radio stations produce their own songs? Services like Netflix produce original content but why don’t radio stations?
Answer: Because the radio’s licensing and royalties cost structure provide no incentive to.

Welcome to Costs Matter, a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to better manage costs. The costs are frequently economic though not always. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim these costs are the only reason things are as they are. To read more in the series, visit https://medium.com/galileo-onwards/costs/home.

Licensing agreements and royalty payments are…


Source: generated by author using figlet. License: public domain.

Because film-makers didn’t have to pay patents fees from Hollywood, California thereby saving costs.

Question: Why is the US Film Industry established in Hollywood, California?
Answer: Because film-makers wanted to make films without paying patent fees thereby reducing costs.

In the early 1900s, New York was the film industry’s head quarters. However, the patent for movie making equipment was owned by Thomas Edison and he enforced them. The following excerpt is from Lawrence Lessig’s 2004 book, Free Culture:

Creators and directors migrated from the East Coast to California in the early twentieth century in part to escape controls that patents granted the inventor of filmmaking, Thomas Edison…. California was remote enough from Edison’s reach…


Because it reduces their taxes.

Question: Why is Facebook headquartered in Ireland?
Answer: Because Ireland has a low corporate tax rate thereby saving costs and increasing profits.

See below for details.

The more technical name for this phenomenon is called the Double Irish Arrangement or Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). Wikipedia has the details:

Under OECD rules [for example], if Microsoft charged a German end-customer, say $100, for Microsoft Office, [for] a profit of $95, [that profit] would be realised in Germany, and German tax payable. [However], Microsoft can additionally charge Microsoft Germany $95 in IP royalty payments on each copy of Microsoft Office


Source: generated by author using figlet. License: public domain.

Because rural employees are paid lower salaries and that cuts down Zoho’s costs.

Question: Why does the Zoho Corporation establish itself in rural areas?
Answer: Because this reduces its operating costs thereby increasing its profits.

The salaries Zoho pays rural employees are much lower than the equivalent in urban areas. This reduction in operating costs translates to greater profits for the Zoho Corporation.

Costs Matter is a series that asks different questions all of which have the same answer: to keep down costs. The series focuses narrowly on the impact of costs. It does not claim costs are the only reason things are as they are. …

Vijay Lakshminarayanan

Infrequent writer

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