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Gongol.com



Research on market solutions to today's problems, along with economics and technology news.



 



It's called "rent-seeking", and it's not good for consumers

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:04 CDT

In seeking to prevent "transportation network companies" (Uber and Lyft, mainly) from competing with conventional taxi services, a union leader in Nevada wants state legislators to try imposing restrictions -- like requiring a 10-minute delay between ride request and pickup and placing a ban on surge pricing. It's completely understandable if taxi drivers feel threatened by competition. It's also perfectly reasonable to consider mild regulations in the direct and immediate interest of public health and safety. But artificial restraints on competition like service delays and price ceilings are pure rent-seeking behavior -- that is, the use of political influence to seek income ("rents") that wouldn't be provided in a competitive market.



Theo Epstein declines Fortune acknowledgement as "world's greatest leader"

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:04 CDT

It's probably a bit much to name a baseball guy as the world's greatest leader -- but there's no question that management books ought to be written about Epstein and his approach. There's simply no way that his successes at the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs were simply freak events. And it's Fortune's assertion that Epstein has applied lessons about personal character that he learned (from their absence) in Boston to building a World Series championship team in Chicago.












Radio Australia powers down its shortwave service

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:04 CDT

The long, slow decline of shortwave radio is a sad thing. Yes, Internet streams sound better. But shortwave has universal reach, and the Internet doesn't. Radio remains eminently portable in a way that data streams are not, and that's never been more significant than at a time when authoritarian governments have the power to blockade Internet access for the people living under their oppression. Those people deserve the freedom of thought that shortwave radio has historically excelled at providing.






"I'm a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right."

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:03 CDT

The President rejects study and knowledge because he wants to go with his gut. The problem is this: People who really care about their jobs develop intuition through practice, reflection, study, and self-criticism. Intuition is a different thing from instinct. Animals have instincts. Intuition is the culmination of habit, study, experience, and reflection. The person who relies on instinct alone -- instead of deliberately cultivating intuition -- puts everyone else around him/her in danger. Never trust the instincts of someone who doesn't study new information or reflect on when those instincts went wrong.



Sen. John McCain says we need a special committee to investigate

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:03 CDT

Speaking of the investigation into a relationship between the Trump campaign and an adversarial foreign government (Russia's): "[N]o longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone". That is a non-trivial assertion from a person with the kind of moral authority as the Senator from Arizona. And, given the apologies and backtracking underway as the House Intelligence Committee chair acknowledges that he had his priorities completely wrong, Senator McCain is probably objectively correct.






A flat statewide minimum wage makes sense

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:03 CDT




If you have to start life poor...

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:03 CDT







Go home, architecture. You're drunk.

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:03 CDT




Sears notes major uncertainty about future in financial reports

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:02 CDT

The company isn't quite so sure it'll even be around for much longer. What's really interesting about the Sears saga is that the company came into its own as a major disruptor in its own right. Sears wasn't the first to offer the delivery of direct-to-home merchandise via catalog sales, but it was the first to really escalate it to an art form. (Montgomery Ward predated Sears, and it's been gone since 2000.) It's curious to see the modern incarnation of Sears put under such (potentially deadly) pressure as a retailer today by what are effectively the same forces that launched it in the first place: Direct-to-home sales by nimbler merchants. Ultimately, it's hard to overcome perceptions of a death spiral once that becomes the dominant narrative about a consumer business.



Apparent terrorist attack on London

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:02 CDT




The flaw in restrictive immigration policies

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:02 CDT

The Daily Iowan (the student newspaper at the University of Iowa) interviewed Representative Steve King about immigration after his recent odious statements on Twitter. Rep. King's vision of immigration in this interview leans heavily on blocking immigrants if they can't show economic merit. It's vital to bear in mind the fact that first-generation immigrants to the United States have often been very low on the economic ladder -- think, for instance, of poor Irish farmers escaping the potato famine. When a nation welcomes low-socioeconomic-status immigrants, what it's really doing is priming the economy for progress a generation down the road. It's the children of immigrants who are often the real driving force for growth. They're close enough to their parents' experience to have an appreciation for what the country offers them, and they have the motivation to prove themselves in a big way. High-status immigrants will always be sought and welcomed by countries that aren't completely stupid about their borders -- after all, what country wouldn't want to be a premier destination for rocket scientists and brain surgeons? It's the country that sees the value of the second generation -- even the children of unskilled laborers -- that really benefits in the long run.









A North Korean missile test goes wrong

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT




Iowa must do better by our kids

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT




The twelve ways a company can innovate

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT










What the judiciary is all about

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT




Manufacturing output is high -- it's manufacturing employment that's declined

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT

If you don't get the diagnosis right, you risk issuing a deadly prescription. The problem isn't us getting screwed at the trade-negotiation table. It's that technology (mostly) and trade (to a lesser extent) render lots of jobs obsolete or redundant. We can lie to ourselves and pretend like we can stop the shift by barricading ourselves off against trade, but that's just dumb policy that assumes the wrong diagnosis and guarantees the application of really awful prescriptions that will make the situation worse. Ham-handed trade policies that focus on "protecting" primary industries (that is, ones that are very close to the step when raw materials are turned into something basic) can punish American companies that have moved up the value chain. Trade principle #1: If you want to protect anything, focus on intellectual property. Punish theft of trademarks, patents, and trade dress. Trade principle #2: Follow quality-based purchasing guidelines. Americans build great products - use rules-based standards for quality. Trade principle #3: Help workers displaced by trade and/or technology to move up the value chain with flexible, adaptive training programs.



The skyscraper curse

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT




Don't look for manufacturing jobs to "come back"

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT

The jobs that have disappeared from the US market aren't likely to "come back" for any reason, especially not since many of them have departed not due to trade but to increased productivity (especially thanks to automation). What we should be seeking to do is create new jobs that are enhanced by automation and trade -- in other words, to adopt an expansive vision of the economy and employment, rather than an isolationist one.






Co-locating libraries with public housing

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:40:01 CDT