Assorted links

by on August 17, 2012 at 11:33 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Quashed auction markets in everything.

2. City-based visas?

3. Why Encyclopedia Britannica will never disappear.

4. Dining in Wichita, and the innovation crisis in pharmaceuticals.

5. Via Chris F. Masse, (exaggerated) claims about the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Millian August 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

The relevance of 3 is cryptic to me. Notwithstanding that, there are multiple good predictions in it. The web was great for consumers, but bad for people trying to make money. Most big money is now made by groups which try to get people away from the web as much as possible, or to observe and aggregate web use for large social groups.

dan1111 August 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

How long did it take until you realized how old it was? I didn’t get it until I read “the new Britannica CD ’98″.

Millian August 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

I reckoned that the absence of Wikipedia, in an article written presumably by a journalist, was a big enough omission to classify it as “archive”.

Doc Merlin August 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Well, yes, the web brought down barriers to entry. Barriers to entry are good for current market producers, and very bad for consumers and those wanting to enter the market.

Florian August 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

3 was written in 1998!!!
That’s why it explains competition to Encyclopaedia Britannica in terms of Microsoft Encarta – and doesn’t mention Wikipedia…

Chris August 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Britannica just printed its final physical edition and sells its DVDROM for $29.95. But, strangely, full online access is $70/yr.

Rahul August 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

#2 is based on the premise that a dying city deserves to be saved.

In addition, can one really save a city by throwing people at it?

Daniel Dostal August 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

A city is it’s people. Doubling Detroit’s population with immigrants might “save” it, but it would also alter it so significantly it would be an entirely new city. I think it would be for the better, but the word “save” is loaded with the author’s intentions, not the actual changes.

Peter Schaeffer August 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

If a city can’t compete in the free market for labor, capital, people, etc. it deserves to die. Detroit is a case study in well earned decline and fall. That’s what the “free market” is all about.

It’s always funny to see how so-called conservatives, libertarians, and liberals throw away their most sacred (supposedly) principles when Open Borders are at stake. Open Borders Über Alles is the rule.

Cliff August 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I don’t understand how your two paragraphs are related

Peter Schaeffer August 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

C,

Some folks claim to favor the “free market” unless it gets in the way of Open Borders in which case Open Borders always wins. That makes them Open Borders advocates who dabble in the “free market” when its convenient.

The Original D August 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

How is free movement of people based on economic opportunity different from a free market?

I get that there may be other reasons for limiting immigration, but there is no cognitive dissonance in your example.

The Anti-Gnostic August 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Original D, because they can rely on public infrastructure, welfare and civil rights to socialize the costs. Libertarians refuse to realize that government-controlled immigration is just the State enlarging its constituency. Do you think European and American liberals don’t realize their precious welfare state is toast without a large and rapid expansion of the tax base?

When people talk about “saving” Detroit, what they are really hoping for is white gentrification. But you’ve got to get the boring capitalists with their intact families and conservative lifestyle choices there to begin with. That means clearing out the extant low-g population with their attendant social pathologies. Michael Bloomberg realizes this, and you should too.

dan1111 August 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

1) If people are willing to sacrifice other issues for open borders, doesn’t that just make open borders their “most sacred” principle? What is inherently unprincipled about open borders, compared to the other issues?
2) Opening borders makes the market freer. There is no conflict between the two principles. That is why many conservatives favor removing restrictions on cross-border economic activity.
3) Overall, one can hardly say that open borders is “the rule” among conservatives. In fact, American conservatives are deeply divided about this.

Peter Schaeffer August 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

d3,

If you claim to be an Open Borders advocate, so be it. However, it you claim (as a good liberal) to favor unions, the working poor, environmental protection, etc. and still support Open Borders you have a (big) problem. If you claim (as a good conservative) to oppose welfare dependency, family breakdown, crime, multiculturalism, etc. and still support Open Borders you have a (big) problem. If you claim to be “pro-education” and still support Open Borders you have a (very big) problem. If you claim (as a libertarian) to oppose government handouts, dependency, and favor “small government” and still support Open Borders you have a (big) problem. If you claim (as a Green) to favor protection of the environment, oppose sprawl, and minimize resource consumption, and still support Open Borders you have a (very big) problem.

As for “conservative” support for Open Borders, there is some. Almost invariably the advocates thin proxies for the cheap labor (paid for by taxpayers) lobby. Bush and Rove come to mind. Bush promoted Amnesty for illegals and used taxpayer dollars to promote food stamps in Spanish. That’s how Open Borders “conservatism” actually works.

Peter Schaeffer August 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

For a touch of reality, see “Poverty and Program Participation among
Immigrant Children” (http://hvrd.me/PjXIaF). Mass immigration leads inexorably to welfare proliferation, state expansion, and higher taxation. It’s not “conservative” by any stretch of the immigration.

“He finds that immigrant children have significantly higher rates both of poverty and of program participation than do native children. Nearly half of immigrant children are being raised in households that receive some type of public assistance, compared with roughly one-third of native children. Although the shares of immigrant and native children living in poverty are lower, the rate for immigrant children is nonetheless about 15 percentage points higher than that for native children—about the same as the gap in public assistance. Poverty and program participation rates among different groups of immigrant children also vary widely, depending in part on place of birth (foreign- or U.S.-born), parents (immigrant or native), and national origin.

According to the CPS data, these native-immigrant differences persist into young adulthood. In particular, the program participation and poverty status of immigrant children is strongly correlated with their program participation and poverty status when they become young adults.”

Importing poverty and dependency isn’t conservative or libertarian. It does enrich certain sleazy special interest groups. That’s called “Crony Capitalism”.

Mark Thorson August 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The way eBay has managed to screw up their software over the last 5-10 years (for example, making many features unusable from Safari on the Mac), they already seem like a cursed company. Every release of their software is more broken than the previous version.

Doc Merlin August 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

+1

Béranger August 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Britannica is pathetic. The electronic contents is even obsolete (in structure) by the standards used for the printing format.

Encarta—now this was GENIUS. Too bad the idiots at MSFT closed it down.

Take a look at how Britannica fares, as compared to Encarta, when comes to Ray Bradbury (yes, Britannica is the small, stupid one):
http://i874.photobucket.com/albums/ab307/karl_marx/bradbury_encarta_britannica.png

Joel August 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm

It’s hard to take seriously an article claiming that “everyone thought” tit-for-tat was the “best” strategy in iterated PD. The only people I know who thought that are people who learned game theory from Malcolm Gladwell books.

Doc Merlin August 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Or payed attention to RAND’s various competitions. Tit-for-tat does extremely well in very agressive environments. There are situations in which other strategies can beat Tit-for-tat, but overall, its extremely good.

Joseph Ward August 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm

RE: #5.

I would really appreciate Cowen/Tabarrok’s take on the supposed new revolution in the prisoner’s dilemma.

Mark August 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

From the post, “(exaggerated)”

Ed August 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I think there is a market for a version of Wikipedia where the articles are written and edited by experts in the field, and there is a by-line to the articles, essentially what the Encylopedia Brittanica used to be though I understand that the quality has gone downhill.

And there is a big advantage of going online in that you can put much more material in the “encylopedia”. The one paragraph entry on Ray Bradbury was somewhat typical of the old print edition of the Encylopedia Brittanica where they had to fit in alot of information in limited space. That is not a concern with a searchable online version.

EB probably bungled the execution of their online product, by delivering a weak product and charging too high a subscription fee.

zbicyclist August 18, 2012 at 9:18 am

Well, Scholarpedia was launched some time ago.
http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Main_Page
I haven’t heard much about it lately, but that may just be me.

Cliff Arroyo August 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm

It _might_ almost be worth experimenting with city-based visas. But only if there were a chance in hell that those proposing it would accept any evidence of its failure.

FTR: My criteria for success would be X % of those granted city-based visas being officially employed after X number of years (exact numbers yet to be determined).

Since I’m fairly sure that there is no criteria that those proposing (or enthusiastic about) the idea would accept as failure and evidence that the program should be discontinued, let’s not and say we did.

Ted Craig August 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I’m not sure how more immigrants would help the Detroit region. The population that already suffers from a high murder rate, low literacy rates and the accompanying unemployment will still be here.

Brian August 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Re: 3

At the time of the article (1998, wow!), Britannica might have had a chance as the de-facto, authoritative source for information on a subscription basis. With the advent of Wikipedia, the only thing I could possible think of (as Ed above wrote about) is that there is a market for an online compendium of authoritative, quality articles written by consensus experts in the field. Something not subject to graffiti / capricious editing / disinterest, etc.

The primary issue is that there currently there is no way to feasibly charge (and pay experts for) such a product, and that such an “expert” product will always be behind the curve re: time to being published. Why pay even $1 a month to access an “expert” encyclopedia when Wikipedia is almost as good for even well-versed individuals, let alone laymen? Wikipedia will quite literally update mere seconds after a noteworthy incident, and often accurately! It is an absolutely unreal incorporation of human knowledge. It is the modern day Library of Alexandria, as flawed as it is. Unless its user-editors completely revolt and the site rots on the vine, I don’t know what can commercially challenge such a product.

What would interest me is a discussion of the current issues that apparently plague Wikipedia and what consequences that entails for all of us. I’m not well-versed but I do hear rumblings about discontent and I would be eager to know exactly why. In my mind Wikipedia was/is a harbinger of a movement to utterly democratize knowledge and learning across channels where anyone can learn anything from the best minds in the world. A forerunner of what I hope the educational system, across the world, can eventually become in the future. It would be a shame if something like it self destructs in front of us all.

Benny Lava August 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I never understood why a company like Encyclopedia Britannica did not set up a free online version similar in layout and format to Wikipedia and simply sell ad space. Or why the NYTimes continues to do things backwards (they should sell you access to the archives but give away the week’s stories and make the difference in ad space).

Good article T., if you have anything on the music industry from the late 90s it would also be a fascinating read.

Ted Craig August 18, 2012 at 7:39 am

USA Today tried selling access to its archives and it didn’t work for some reason. I suspect the real issue, however, is a lack of commitment. Plus, it’s hard for companies of any kind to change focus.

freethinker August 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm

About 2) As Peter Bauer says, it is the values and attitudes of people which matter for development. The problem with Detroit is its demographics. Too many of the wrong kind of people are residing there. You “can save a city by throwing people at it” provided you throw in the right kind of people with the right values and attitudes.

The major problem is that the people with the right mindset are discouraged by Detroit’s high crime rate . Why not make it a chartered city under the control of the Singapore government for a few years, with the Singapore police granted permission to do whatever it takes to deal with crime? After a few years that notorious city will be safe for business.

Rahul August 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm

What makes you think Singapore would want it?

freethinker August 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

Yes Rahul, that did not occur to me. Who would want a city where it is easier to be a criminal than a businessperson?

anonymous... August 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Miami was saved from decline by the functional equivalent of a city-based visa. Cubans were automatically granted permanent residency, and they tended to remain in Miami not because of government restrictions on mobility but because of linguistic affinity.

City-based visas will become more feasible (i.e., enforceable) in the near future. Everyone under a certain age cannot do without a mobile phone, which is a tracking device. Ultimately, it’s an ankle bracelet on which you can play Angry Birds. Censuses will be updated in real-time, based on the GPS location where your phone spends the night. There is plenty of other low-hanging fruit on the road to the surveillance society. Free-range kids, convicts on day-pass parole, and not-quite-immigrants will all enjoy greater mobility than today, while monitored from afar.

Doc Merlin August 18, 2012 at 3:15 am

no. Their de jure mobility will be higher but their de facto mobility will be lower.
Right now “not-quite-immigrants and free-range kids” can and do go wherever they please. Its illegal, but no one can really stop them. In senario world, they can be stopped and easily.

Barkley Rosser August 18, 2012 at 4:09 am

Kind of amazing that the piece on city-based visas does not mention where this sort of thing has been used in the past: in communist dictatorships, most famously in the former Soviet Union, particularly to limit the ability of people to move to either Moscow or what is now back to being St. Petersburg. I believe that China used to have such restrictions, and I bet that North Korea still does. These were greatly resented and led to whole genres of literature and film, most famously in the USSR the soap operatic film “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” of the 80s that got some play in the US. It was all about people able to be in Moscow temporarily trying to marry people with permanent status so that they could stay in Moscow, with its much higher standard of living.

BTW, these rules were ruled unconstitutional after the fall of communism there over 20 years ago, but in practice the mayors of Moscow at least have continued to engage in at least partial enforcement of them to keep out “undesirables” up until at least pretty recently in violation of the federal laws. I am not sure if this is still going on or not.

In any case, these are not exactly particularly enticing models.

Brian August 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Not really the same thing there, old fellow.

Are you similarly confused about why the wealthy make such common use of fences while prisoners seem to hate them?

Doc Merlin August 18, 2012 at 5:04 am

Encarta was wonderful. Wikipedia is even better. However, I am annoyed at the wikipedia moderators that keep removing downsizing articles and removing topics. Wikipedia is SUPPOSED TO BE EXHAUSTIVE.

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