Great World Cup! But can't they ban the vuvuzela?
The vuvuzela, a meter-long plastic horn, is annoying and has been linked to health risks. Should it be banned or is there a market fix?
Donald B. Marron is director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. He previously served as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and as acting director of the Congressional Budget Office.
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For those who haven’t tuned in yet, the vuvuzela is a meter-long plastic horn whose name translates roughly as “making a vuvu noise.” And make a noise it does. When thousands of fans start blowing, you’d think a swarm of bees was taking over the soccer stadium … and your living room. Highly annoying.
And that’s not all. According to Wikipedia, the vuvuzelas raise other concerns:
They have been associated with permanent noise-induced hearing loss, cited as a possible safety risk when spectators can’t hear evacuation announcements, and potentially spread colds and flu viruses on a greater scale than coughing or shouting.
In short, the vuvuzela creates a host of externalities. So it’s not surprising that FIFA is under growing pressure to ban them.
I’ve been unable to come up with a market-based approach for dealing with the vuvuzela — there won’t ever be a Pigou club to limit the vuvu noise — and I would personally benefit from such a ban. So I’m all for it.
It is worth pondering, however, whether there are less drastic actions that might address some of the vuvuzela nuisance. Here’s one idea: ESPN and ABC should figure out a way to cancel out most of the vuvuzela noise. I still want to hear the cheers of the crowd and the screams of players who pretend to be hurt, but those are on different frequencies than the dreaded vuvu noise.
I don’t know how technically challenging that would be, but the marketplace is already providing similar solutions for consumers. According to Pocket Line, you can change the sound settings on your TV, purchase an anti-vuvuzela sound filter, or even build your own filter at home.
Or you can go really low tech and use your mute button.
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