Category Archives: economics

amazing restraint

Roderick Long defines right-conflationism as defending existing economic structures as if they were outcomes of a genuinely free market (what Kevin Carson calls vulgar libertarianism), and left-conflationism as using those outcomes to attack the concept of free markets. I hope my paraphrasing doesn’t offend either of them.

Left-conflationism asks us to believe that Big Business, through its corrupt control of legislatures, prevents political interference in the market and goes no further; that mere market freedom allows it to loot us so thoroughly that it does not seek subsidies or protection from competition.

the strawman market

One often hears:

[Libertarianism] can only work if all the conditions of a free market economy are present … things like anyone being able to easily enter any market segment, all consumers having near-perfect knowledge of what they are purchasing, large numbers of sellers selling identical products to large numbers of buyers, etc.

And one is moved to ask whether the political system makes up for such departures from the ideal by adding moral hazard.

Where did the meme came from? My guess is that some introductory economic textbooks contain theorems that rely on those simplifying assumptions, and some students get that far and no further.

I don’t know much about academic economics but I do know that there’s plenty of interest in the negations of those simplifications; for example, Ronald Coase made his name by pointing out the importance of transaction costs, including the cost of overcoming imperfections of knowledge.

What I need is the libertoonian equivalent of the TalkOrigins Archive, containing standard responses to the other side’s tired assertions.

a perverse incentive in customer service

Awhile ago I worked out that, if you want to watch a different disc every evening using Netflix, your quota (the number of discs you have out at a time) needs to be at least five: three for the mail cycle plus two because Netflix does no processing on Saturday or Sunday. (This assumes no glitches and no holidays. It also assumes you do not get the disc back into the mail on the same day you received it.)

Now I see that Netflix has begun working on Saturdays, reducing the addict’s minimum quota to four. That means they’ll get $6/month less from each subscriber who applies my reasoning. Hm.

where’s my fix?

For two or three years I was never without a supply of navel oranges, because the Australian (or before that Chilean) crop came in just as the California crop was ending; but the antipodean goodies have not (yet) shown up this year. Is a weak dollar to blame?

Sunday: scurvy is averted: Chile came through.