by Tyler Cowen
on July 24, 2011 at 7:16 am
1. El Mundo interview with me, in Spanish.
2. Why do criminals brazenly wear gang colors? (pdf)
3. Parking rates worldwide.
4. Markets in everything: will the police sell your phone number to journalists?
5. Chinese eminent domain, one way to do it.
No wonder that no parking spots are ever free in Mumbai. It is somewhat ironic that Mumbai with one of the most expensive real estate in the world has the cheapest parking.
Also weird is the huge gap in government and private parking rates. Near where I lived $2 gets you 12 hours in a city-owned spot and just one hour in a private spot.
O la persona con más posibilidades de convertirse «en el Thomas Friedman de esta década» (The Wall Street Journal).
Yeeowch. How is it that no one at the WSJ got challenged to a duel over that bit of slander?
I find it incredibly hard to believe that gang members display their colors to signal criminal competence and their ability to avoid criminal convictions. The whole argument doesn’t fit very well with the reality that jail time, and jail house tattoos are seen as a badge of authenticity in many gangs, especially hispanic gangs. Gang members want to look dangerous and tough, I don’t think competence is high on the list.
Gangs obviously conform to the Geneva Convention rules of war; sworn members always wear their uniforms and expect to be treated as prisoners of war if captured, but are also committed to their cause even when prisoner, and are bound to reveal only name, rank, serial number, with anyone who says more being a traitor subject to execution.
Re: Gang Paper
The paper was a hoot! Normally I’m a big fan of “freakanomics” papers that look for trends and causes of human behavior, but seeing all that math applied how people go about buying drugs gave me a big case of the giggles. All I could think of was some meth-addled guy who hasn’t slept in two days and has only eaten a snickers bar attempting to make any decision about the best person to get drugs from based on competency, quality and peacock flair! I failed to see which area/demographic his paper would apply to in the US. Maybe drugs are sold differently in the UK?
I would guess that in an impoverished area, its about creating a gang monopoly that allows you to sell the worst product at the highest cost that you can enforce, since your customers are mostly addicts without access to transportation and bargaining skills. Wearing gang colors allows you to both advertise that the product is available for sale and that the territory is taken; without raising the alert with the police since such a high percentage of males in the area are probably wearing colors and are involved in some criminal activity anyways. Nor can I see the theory applying to middle class suburbs or wealthy areas since these areas don’t tend to have gangs flashing colors but tend to rely on more “white collar” organized crime at least at the costumer level.
Show me anyone that isn’t a “crack-riddled borderline homeless person” that would rather buy from the the dude with the neck tattoo in gang colors than a low-key and smartly dressed guy with a preppy messenger bag. (Besides a sheltered Oxford Economist who wants a bit of cultural tourism).
You’re making it sound very corporate.
Public employees should be paid less by tax payers and earn more by charging what the market will bare for their services – delivery of public services should be governed by free market profit maximizing incentives. It works extremely well in nations all over the world.
Hmmm, what are you getting at here? Would that not be considered regressive? For instance, would you say that health care should be a government-provided public service (per liberal party line) which should nevertheless charge its users what the market will bear?
Are you the real mulp or pod-people mulp?
The enormous difference between parking rates in San Diego ($170) and Perth, Australia ($598) is very interesting. They are basically the same city in terms of size, overall urban geography, freeways, public transit, etc.
What explains the huge difference? Is it that the real estate bubble in San Diego has already burst while Perth’s is still highly inflated?
Actually, I misread the table. Parking in Perth is USD717 per month. Insanity.
I work in corrections in a substance abuse treatment program. About half my patients are serving sentences for some form of trafficking in illegal narcotics. Data is not the plural of anecdote, of course, but according to my sources, who for a variety of reasons I am not at liberty to divulge seem to know what they are talking about, “gangs” like the Crips and the Pagans are largely looked at as amateurs with regards to the drug biz. Such gangs might be conceived of as particularly violent fraternities; they are not at heart money-making enterprises, and their decisions flow naturally from their priorities. In contrast, I assure you, the Medellin were not kids posing in uniforms of colored baseball caps and bling: the drug cartels are largely owned and operated by grownups more interested in making a quick buck than violent posturing. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_cartel
In summary, this paper is about the imaginary drug dealers of the mythology of white, middle-class professionals. Actual successful drug dealers do not wear gang colors, because they don’t want to get caught, and they’re not motivated by brotherhood, loyalty, etc.
Maybe the author should have investigated the facticity of his premise before theorizing on it.
I haven’t read it all the way through, but there are two issues I see that affect the conclusions of the paper:
1) They assume “competence” in drug dealing is unidimensional – that a dealer who is less likely to cheat his customer is also less likely to get caught by the cops.
2) They don’t recognize that (in the U.S., and I think in the UK) a cop cannot arrest someone merely for identifying as a member of a gang, and at least in the U.S., identifying with a gang does not create probable cause for a search which might lead to an arrest. So the potential legal cost of wearing gang colors is very, very low – one is in much more danger from rival gangs than from the police.
Shenzhen is such a polluted dirty city I’m surprised that people who put up with it are afraid of a few scorpions. What do they eat and drink?
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