Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How The Other Half Lives in New York City

I ran into an article on StumbleUpon written by a black woman fed up with catcalling on the streets of New York. Although this article dealt primarily with black men who victimize black women, a lot of women have complained about it over the years to me, but this is the first time I actually read an article specific to New York about it. The problem appears to largely cross racial lines too.

The unfortunate thing about this problem is that there probably is little that can be done about it, at least immediately. How do you get what must be tens or even hundreds of thousands of males to start showing empathy towards members of the opposite sex?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Palin won't go the hell away

Thanks, Frank Rich, for this amusing anecdote about how full of shit Sarah Palin is ("She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It ," Frank Rich, 2009-07-15):

The politics of resentment are impervious to facts. Palinists regard their star as an icon of working-class America even though the Palins’ combined reported income ($211,000) puts them in the top 3.6 percent of American households. They see her as a champion of conservative fiscal principles even though she said yes to the Bridge to Nowhere and presided over a state that ranks No.1 in federal pork.

Now that she's not in government anymore, can we start pretending she doesn't exist?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do big companies like regulation?

From USA Today ("Congress sends Obama bill to regulate tobacco," 2009-06-12, Associated Press):
Altria Group, parent company of Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest tobacco company, issued a statement Thursday supporting the legislation and saying it approved "tough but reasonable federal regulation of tobacco products" by the FDA. Rival companies have voiced opposition, saying FDA limits on new tobacco products could lock in market shares for Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes.
I'm no fan of cigarettes or smoking, but it seems to me that it's not a coincidence the Altria likes this legislation while R. J. Reynolds doesn't.

Cigarettes are probably a little like beer. Making them is easy. Mass producing them is easy. The tricky part is administrative, going through all the legal, regulatory, and tax hoops to penetrate the market. This probably explains why Budweiser is kind of bland; the same bottles are made to be sold in New York and Utah — compare the taste to a local or regional microbrewery (e.g., Brooklyn Brewery in New York or Redhook in Seattle), where the alcohol content is almost certainly higher.

Besides vice, what other industries might have this resemblance to oligopolies because of regulation? Two others I can think of right off the top of my head are automobiles and banking. Making a car isn't easy, of course, but it got a lot harder in the 1970s or so. Expensive safety regulations, testing, and requirements that parts to be available for years after manufacture all add to the cost — and help guarantee that only a big, established company could survive in the market place.

What about banks? That's an easy one. Starting a new bank is difficult, but easily requires tens of millions of dollars in starting capital. The legal and regulatory hurdles require top heavy administrative and legal overhead.

So, is it possible that by restricting vice, governments are reward vice-purveyors? What would happen if the pornography industry became more heavily regulated?