Repeating the Napster mistake is not good for anyone but a select few
Those of us old enough to remember the Napster non-sense are still baffled by how many billions of dollars the entertainment industry was willing to give up to be able to stick with their old business models.
When Napster first came on the scene, they could have moved ahead and co-opted it for mere pennies. They could have shut it down later if things did not work out. Of course, now we know things would have worked out and worked out very well indeed, for one simple reason: While the marginal cost of allowing one more person to download an MP3 is close to nothing, people are willing to pay at least a dollar for a genuine, high quality audio file.
Nooooo, it would have been heresy for a bunch of lawyers to settle for a win-win solution. No sir! We must win and customers must lose even though what we win is but a miniscule portion of the dough Apple made with iTunes. Coincidentally, the inventor of the intarwebs was available to lend a sympathetic ear, and the stupid DMCA was passed with one significant "loophole" that allowed more win-win solutions to be developed: Safe harbors.
Now, we are at a crossroads again. There is a win-win solution: The large content publishers with their stockpiles of cash can take chances on innovative startups and find new ways of making even more money. But, nah, the lawyer mentality balks at that. Someone must always lose. There can't be win-win.
Therefore, we get SOPA (which actually means "stick" in Turkish ;-)
When a pair of ostriches bearing the young meets another pair, the parents will fight and the winning pair will be parents of both pairs' offspring. It has been reported that the biggest group of ostriches contains 300 offspring!
If true, this is kind of curious, and suggests somehow that possession of others' offspring enhances the fitness of one's own.
There's a longstanding myth about ostriches that, when frightened, they will bury their head in the sand and pretend the danger isn't there. This, of course, is ridiculous. Such horribly unadaptive behavior would have been bred out of the species by the evolutionary process (or by whichever God you believe in tweaking his code a bit) as hungry African predators would have delighted in seeing stationary feathery meals.
Of course, if such behavior were triggered after the ostrich had a chance to reproduce, there would be no a priori reason to expect that it would lead to extinction. It might even be adaptive if offspring that can fend for themselves get a chance to escape while the predators occupied themselves with the stationary adult.
First off, thank you very much for picking this up.
I am not as concerned with police officers' actions as I am with the attitude of the members of the commission that they can freely restrict people's right to record and disseminate news.
The "disruptive behavior" criterion seems to be anything that bothers the commission chairperson. A commission that is working on restricting the supply of transportation services to citizens of a city whose work does not involve anything related to national security, or violation of anyone's privacy has no acceptable reason to restrict the information flow.
It seems to me that various public officials preferred the days when no one knew about the meetings which were announced on a dusty panel in the basement of the city sanitation services department, no one attended them and no one watched them on public access TV.
There's no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and itís far too late to start making a fuss about it now. Ö What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven's sake, mankind, it's only four light years away, you know. I'm sorry, but if you can't be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that's your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams.
Today's technology is making it easier for such things to come out in the open and we are better off for it.
I don't understand why you would want to institute a fee for immigration. What is the advantage of that?
The idea is to set the fee somewhere near the poverty line to ensure that only people who expect make more that (i.e. who believe they can provide more value than they might impose social costs in today's generous welfare environment) to choose to come. Plus, $10,000 is comparable to the monetary outlays --if not the psychic costs-- people incur to come to the U.S. to work illegally, and why not take that rent and maybe fund stronger border controls etc.
... however, I am not sure if the word "value" has been overloaded here. The demand curve shows the willingness of consumers to pay for each and every unit of the good. The "willingness to pay" (WTP) is the result of maximizing preference with respect to a budget constraint, so we can have things like "I value my gadget a gajillion dollars" without having the resources to buy it.
The other meaning of "valuing something" is the willingness to protect and preserve it and put it to its best use once you have it. If you can get as many free mosquito nets as you want for free, there is really no need to protect and preserve the net because you can get one whenever you want.
Now, the budget constraint of a poor person may prevent them from being able to pay the price, but that does not negate the fact that they might get a great benefit from such nets. If, in addition, you cannot get as many free nets as you want as often as you want, then you will "value" the free bed net in the sense that you will want to protect and preserve it and put it to its best use.
I do not find the experimental evidence convincing that there is anything other than budget constraints and a resulting downward sloping demand curve operating here.
The fact that this is undermining any local enterprising entrepreneur from trying to produce/procure bed nets and sell them is important. In the long run, it is much more important for poor countries that there are people who are willing to set up production (and employ people) which will not happen so long as anything and everything of value to the local population drops from the sky in an aid basket.
And the idea that we'll be able to hire our own personal servants, because we can pay them next to nothing? That's rich. How can I afford to pay someone two dollars a day when I'm only paid two dollars a day for my work?
Why would you be paid two dollars a day for your work? Do you not produce anything of value?
Also, even among low skilled labor, there is opportunity to distinguish oneself and command a higher pay by the quality of one's work. Except in union shops where you cannot treat good workers well and get rid of bad workers.
So what you are saying is that there are some people who are in such a horrid situation that working for scraps of food and a mat is better than their currently horrific situation and your solution is to say: "Sorry, you can't even have food scraps and a mat. You'll just had to starve and sleep under a bridge." How generous of you.
That happens already. Have you visited a car wash in the NYC metro area lately? Or seen what happens in Chinese restaurants?
However, more importantly for citizens, minimum wage laws hurt low skilled workers by preventing them from being attractive enough for an employer to take a chance on them thereby limiting their opportunities to gain work experience.
Minimum wage laws would have to be abolished along with real immigration reform so that coming to the U.S. does not look artificially more attractive to foreign low skilled workers. The only people who would willingly choose to take the risk of starting a new life would be those who believed their output would afford them an acceptable living standard after they have paid the fee, ensuring that only net positive contributors would arrive.
Minimum wage/prevailing wage laws constitute an exercise of market power by those who already have a job to keep competitors out.
As someone who dealt with the various subparts of the U.S. visa & immigration system to ensure that I stayed in the U.S. legally, I think it is time for real immigration reform.
Such a system would have only three main categories: Immigrants, tourists, diplomats. In addition to background checks, immigrants would have to pay a flat fee for each member of their family who wants to move to the U.S.
Real immigration reform is not accommodating people who have already broken laws, but about making sure to attract with the highest productivity. Given the choice between paying $10,000 to the U.S. government and being a legitimate member of society versus spending the same amount of money to pay human smugglers who enslave them, even the poorest immigrants would prefer the latter. The U.S. would benefit not only from more programmers but also from more low-skilled workers. Details on my blog: http://blog.qtau.com/2010/05/real-immigration-reform-now.html
Ideally, along with such real immigration reform, minimum wage/prevailing wage laws would also be abolished.
Also, bureaucrats' incentives are rarely aligned with the our incentives (whether we are producers or consumers). The biggest motivator for a bureaucrat is CYA: They will always err more on the side of failing to approve a drug/treatment/device that is safe and effective rather than approving a drug/treatment/device that may turn out not to be safe or effective. Who can forget AIDS patients being denied experimental drugs in the 80s? --apparently, many.
Both of these types of errors will happen when decisions are made in the face of uncertainty. There is a trade off between the two types of errors. You cannot have a process designed and run by people whose sole motivation is to avoid trouble that is not biased heavily towards shooting down promising, unconventional approaches while overreacting to every risk. Has anyone asked how many chickens were burned alive during the height of the bird flu craziness? How about the economic loss from swine flu?
CYA is the bureaucrat modus operandi. It leads to the current state of the TSA. It leads to all sorts of consumer protection agencies actually decreasing consumer welfare by limiting choice. Shareholders of drug companies do not want their customers to die and shareholders of airlines do not want their planes to be taken over by terrorists. Until we understand that, there cannot be sane regulation.
By the way, regulatory capture by producers is a fairly week explanation of why economic regulation exists mostly outside of the areas where economic reasoning might indicate that it might actually increase social welfare. I would recommend another Peltzman classic, Toward a More General Theory of Regulation to understand better how regulators and politicians behave.
This is standard fare from City Planners ("thou shalt live according to our tastes!")
According to these people, the benefit to you from being able to drive to a store and buy a replacement window, put it in the back of your truck, drive back home and replace the window is the same as you walking to the store, carrying the window on your back all the way home, replacing it and then croaking on the spot from heat exhaustion. After all, in both cases, you got a new window.
If there were no parking spaces at the mall, people might walk or take public transportation to the mall. The fact is, though, looking at places where cars and parking spaces were not abundant before and malls are just beginning to pop up (say, Ankara, Turkey) it looks like most people are made happier by being able to drive to the mall, even if Marxist City Planners don't want them to be.
But even if it is managed by a dictator who, without consideration for the wishes of the public, enforces what he deems best, who clothes, feeds, and houses the people as he sees fit, there is no assurance that he will do what appears proper to "us."
The critics of the capitalistic order always seem to believe that the socialistic system of their dreams will do precisely what they think correct. While they may not always count on becoming dictators themselves, they are hoping that the dictator will not act without first seeking their advice. Thus they arrive at the popular contrast of productivity and profitability.
They call "productive" those economic actions they deem correct. And because things may be different at times they reject the capitalistic order which is guided by profitability and the wishes of consumers, the true masters of markets and production.
They forget that a dictator, too, may act differently from their wishes, and that there is no assurance that he will really try for the "best," and, even if he should seek it, that he should find the way to the "best."
Although the elements of a per se tying violation have been articulated differently, courts generally require that:
(1) two separate products or services are involved, (2) the sale or agreement to sell one is conditioned on the purchase of the other, (3) the seller has sufficient economic power in the market for the tying product to enable it to restrain trade in the market for the tied product, and (4) a not insubstantial amount of interstate commerce in the tied product is affected.(23)
Regarding (1): A paper dispenser and paper that goes into it are separate products.
Regarding (2): GP is trying to require that someone who buys a GP paper dispenser must buy GP paper.
Regarding (3) and (4): Don't know. But, I am assuming GP is a major player in both markets, nationally.
They are trying to get around the per se rule by pretending this is not a restraint on trade but protection of people who is use restrooms in their clients' locations. It is certainly a creative way to try to create market power in the market for a generic good.
That seems to me to be a per se violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act:
Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.
It shall be unlawful for any person engaged in commerce, in the course of such commerce, to lease or make a sale or contract for sale of goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies, or other commodities, whether patented or unpatented, for use, consumption, or resale within the United States or any Territory thereof or the District of Columbia or any insular possession or other place under the jurisdiction of the United States, or fix a price charged therefor, or discount from, or rebate upon, such price, on the condition, agreement, or understanding that the lessee or purchaser thereof shall not use or deal in the goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies, or other commodities of a competitor or competitors of the lessor or seller, where the effect of such lease, sale, or contract for sale or such condition, agreement, or understanding may be to substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly in any line of commerce.
However, as noted on page 26 of the decision, von Drehle failed to pursue this.