Friday, October 31, 2014

Recent Stuff at C4SS


I don't know why I always forget to plug my C4SS op-eds here, but I do ... and then I have to catch up. Here are some of my recent pieces:

If You Vote -- or Don't Vote -- Complain

So here we go again. Another biennial US election season draws to a close and here come the solemn multi-partisan invocations of civic duty: Exercise that franchise. Pull that lever, push that button, mark that box. The future of western civilization depends on you. And if you don't vote, don't complain.

Question: If I don't drive around my neighborhood at 3am blasting Metallica out my car window at 140 decibels, am I boorish or hypocritical to complain about those who do?

Read all about it ...

"Intellectual Property" is Why we Can't Have Nice Things

So now we don't have Twitpic. Twitpic is dead. Twitter's users, and therefore Twitter, are worse off. All over competing claims of "intellectual property" in a word. Claims which would be risible if they hadn’t destroyed a valuable application.

Twitpic's demise doesn't showcase a bug in the "intellectual property" system. Rather it highlights a feature of that system, a system designed for the sole purpose of using state power to protect established actors from market competition (Twitter's incidental self-inflicted wound, on the other hand, was a bug).

Goest thou forth and read ...

How Paul Krugman Relaxed and Learned to Love Income Inequality
(written with Joel Schlosberg)

Amazon's existence lowers book prices for readers in multifarious ways, from selection competition to electronic editions to its online marketplace for used copies. Yet Amazon has simultaneously diminished the cost for anyone to publish and sell books and earn money. By offering an alternative to the genuine near-monopoly of capital-intensive big publishers, Amazon distributes those lower prices and that new revenue more evenly among readers and authors.

Hachette and Krugman know they can't turn back the clock that produced Amazon's burgeoning marketplaces, preferring to benefit from them, but are convinced Amazon owes them a walled garden, sparing them price competition with the rabble. They want Amazon to preserve their income inequality at the expense of its customers.

Click. You know you want to.

Let the Market Contain Ebola

I'm surprised that libertarians haven't been smeared with more "see how much we need government?" propaganda than usual over this. But thinking about it, I can see why. It's not like the governmental response inspires much confidence, and there are obvious ways in which even the current not-very-free market could respond far more effectively. Two potential panic points revealed over the last couple of weeks provide great examples ...

Careful. It's contagious.

AMA Answers and a Poll




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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pre-Election AMA


Maybe I'm a narcissist, but I like to think that some people value my opinions or at least find them entertaining.

I've never done an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") before, but right before an election I've pretty extensively handicapped seems like a good time for the first one. Here are the rules:

1) Ask me anything. It doesn't have to be about the upcoming election. It doesn't even have to be about politics.

2) Ask in the comments to this post. I haven't decided on a format for the answers -- I may answer in the comments, or in a stand-alone post, or in some other way. But the Disqus comment form right below this post is the asking venue.

3) Rough deadline: Midnight eastern time tonight. If I don't have any questions by then I'll assume none of you care what I think. Which is fine.

4) I'm kind of fuzzy on whether the AMA format requires me to answer every question. I guess I'll figure that out as I go depending on whether or not I want to answer every question.

Have at.

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