Assorted links

by on July 20, 2009 at 11:46 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Why don't Japanese cell phones dominate the market?

2. Narcissism and social networking, via Chris Masse.

3. Monkey grammar.

4. The economic value of the space program.


6. James Surowiecki: is federalism obsolete?

Cliff July 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Re: 6- I think we need more competition in government, not less. If the states could not be used as a testing ground for ideas proposed at the national level, how would we have any hope of determining what is likely to work and what is not?

Jim Henley July 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Big Governments oppressive strictures against polyandry will keep from reaching its full commercial potential, I’m afraid.

Keith July 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm

“Big Governments oppressive strictures against polyandry will keep from reaching its full commercial potential, I’m afraid.”


Norman Pfyster July 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm

The “High Bank Profits” thread from yesterday must count as some sort of peep…

ALB July 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Ron Paul singles has 46 women and 177 men. How well does a 20% female dating website do?

Zorkmid July 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Why did you highlight Surowiecki’s piece? Some of his stuff is great but this one is full of nonsense.

Any rational analyst would criticize state governments like California’s for crushing their own economies under the weight of taxes and regulation; Surowiecki praises them and suggests taxing people in other states to prop up the worst-managed!

Any rational analyst would point out that Federally-subsidized high-speed rail is a gigantic boondoggle– unmitigated waste. Surowiecki calls it “sensible.”

Surowiecki repeats the charge, now 45 years obsolete (see Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533) that rural areas dominate state legislatures. In fact, urban areas dominate state legislatures and urban representatives routinely enact laws which greatly harm people who dwell outside of large cities.

(Road funds are spent disproportionately outside cities for a simple reason: rent-seeking by road contractors. When you try to expand roads in cities* most of the money goes to buying land, not to construction (projects like Boston’s Big Dig are the exceptions which prove the rule). None of that money comes back to legislators as graft. On the other hand, almost all the funds for rural road-building go to contractors and large portions come back to officials. Which would you expect them to favor?)

And finally, both wind power and the notion of a national grid are foolish. Wind power is simultaneously costly and unreliable. There is no economic case for wind power with present technology– it is a purely political proposition. A national grid is a stupid idea. Grids boost local outages into widespread blackouts (see ). A national grid would bring us the possibility of national blackouts– only a fool would espouse a national grid.

*Actually, more road-building in cities would be good for the economy. Most American cities are woefully undersupplied with roads.

Douglas Knight July 21, 2009 at 12:16 am

The answer to the Japanese cell phone question is, I think, that the networks elsewhere have too much market power and aren’t interested in this form of competition.

Candadai Tirumalai July 21, 2009 at 9:56 am

The question raised by ALB about the Ron Paul Singles
site, where men outnumber women more than 3 to 1,
is a good one, unless that is a purely temporary
It may be that women are more mindful of online
dating sites and trouble.

Gordon Mohr July 21, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Re: Surowecki and the procyclical fiscal policies of the states

Perhaps the Feds should offer the states Revenue Insurance, much like Unemployment Insurance. Premiums and payouts would have to balance on some ~1-2 business-cycle scale — maybe 10-15 years? — helping to damp the “give-away-the-store” spending by states in booms, and the “cut services and raise taxes during hard times” in busts.

Punditus Maximus July 23, 2009 at 4:49 am

Sorry, missed some details:

Life expectancy at birth:
California 77.9
Texas 76.7

Infant mortality (per 1,000):
California 5.3
Texas 6.4

Cali’s having its troubles, but wishing it another 540 infant deaths (out of its 540,000 live births) is a special kind of cruel.

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