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Bad link on 5?

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Regarding #3, when are we going to index Social Security retirement age to average longevity?

Why not individual expected longevity? ;)

Funny, I've seen an argument that men (and African-American men especially) are the victims of a massive transfer of wealth due to differences in LE.

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The most interesting aspect of the life expectancy link is the idea that health care consumption SHOULD be growing as we get wealthier. I completely agree, but I do not think that health care expenditures as % of GDP = health care consumption. Our payment system is so distorted that the price mechanism is non-existent in medicine. I think that if we had accurate prices for medical services, consumers would cut back on some items and expand their use of others -- R&D would react to demand, and we would see research for life-extending and life-enhancing services.

Unfortunately we are going the other direction and only backtracking on cash transfers for medicine if and when it threatens the government's budget. I guess that's the good news. We are going to have plenty of chances to make hay in deficit crises.

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Whenever I don't see specifics about the future benefit, I become pessimistic about it. I would assume the worst, such as this: after a hurricane, the station would reserve 1 island of pumps for these "hurricane-express" customers and have the rest of (probably) several islands for regular customers. And that the wait time for pumps at this 1 island would be just slightly shorter than the other pumps.

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I think the most interesting aspect of the life expectancy article is that the author just assumes that the US will lead the world in life expectancy. Notice how they introduce the idea of looking at the highest (national average) life expectancy in the world at any given time, which is indeed interesting; then they smoothly move to asserting that based on *that* we can assume that the US will see 100 year life expectancies by 2070. Never mind that US life expectancy has actually declined slightly in recent years!

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I was expecting a vending machine with fire hose, hammer, crow bar, fire extinguisher, etc.

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There's a misprint. He meant "As people get richer, they want to spend a larger share of your income on improving their health

Is it a misprint?

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+1

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Well played, well played indeed.

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Thanks for alerting me to 4. I've listened to the entire James Buchanan talk, which was excellent, as expected. So far, I've also listened to part of the McCloskey & Kasper talks which are interesting as well.

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Will Spotify kill iTunes?

No.

Just like Rhapsody didn't - people in general want to own music, as far as I can tell. "A license to play it as long as you pay us every month forever, or until we go bankrupt and the DRM stops working, but at least you can listen to anything we have" is not a compromise, based on history and observed use patterns, that is compelling to enough people to be a death-knell.

I don't think Spotify could kill even pre-iCloud iTunes, let alone iTunes with the features Apple's starting to add now.

(Actually, he should really clarify what he even means by "iTunes". Does he mean iTunes the physical piece of software? The iTunes music store? The iTunes store for non-music stuff, ala the App Store, Movies, etc.?

The only one that makes much sense as a competitor with Spotify is the music store, but he sure didn't make it explicit.)

(Likewise it's not going to kill the Amazon music store, for the exact same reasons.)

Agreed. I truly do not understand what the hype is about. Rhapsody has offered a similar "rental" model for many years now. The only thing I can see that differs Spotify in any way is they have a "free" version that allows you to choose the actual songs (as opposed to various internet radio type services where you cannot choose the actual songs). That "free" (time limited and ad supported) seems to be the only different offering from Spotify hitting the market. IMHO that does not warrant the attention it is getting....

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To channel Robin Hanson, buying music isn't about listening to songs. People like buying music so that they can affiliate with the musicians and signal high status tastes to their own friends and associates. Other than that, actually owning music is inferior to the monthly flat rate model. If Spotify manages to create a music service system that allows you to signal high status tastes they may be an iTunes killer. I have my doubts though. Here are the pitfalls I see:

1. social signaling will be too obvious. If the signaling features are seen to be explicitly about signaling it will fail as the people who use it will like like they are trying too hard or not being authentic. You need some other plausible reason to like and share items that isn't ONLY about showing others how good your tastes are.

2. social signaling will not be obvious enough. If the social features are too subtle then nobody will see them and they will be useless.

3. linking to music you like and playlists you like is not costly enough to be a reliable signal. To really show you have good tastes you have to show that you are committed to them. Dropping some money for each song forces you to chose only so many, or sacrifice other types of consumption, which makes it easier for others to judge you and your tastes. If all you have to do is link to the latest fashionable songs there is no enduring record of your music persona purchased with the forbearance of other consumption.

Balancing 1 and 2 strikes me as possible but very hard, especially as it all depends on how other services such as facebook integrate with the sharing/liking system as well as what type of culture of use develops around what gets liked and shared. Number 3 might be impossible for a fee based music service to overcome.

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3. Just wait until we fully decode protein folding, it might suddenly start rising more than 10 years per 10 years. The Malthusians will be thrilled at their renewed relevance.

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