In a recent post, I wrote about Minnesota repealing its 1913 ticket scalping ban. Now both New York and Connecticut have signed legislation to legalize ticket scalping.
From today’s WSJ editorial “That’s The Ticket”:
Fans will now be able to buy and sell tickets in efficient and legal secondary markets. For ardent sports or music fans, this should eliminate the drudgery of camping in line for hours, or sometimes days, outside ticket windows to get choice seats.
Having tickets available to those who are willing to pay even a steep price is better than having no tickets available at any price. Secondary markets work efficiently for trading stocks, bonds, housing and art. When an investor resells his share of Google stock for a profit, we don’t call him a price gouger. Yet that still happens in many states to ticket scalpers.
Of all people, Mr. Spitzer put it best when he signed the ticket legislation: “Permitting a free market to work its magic is the smart approach.” Hold that thought, Governor.
Bottom Line: As I wrote before, re-selling tickets (or coins, cars, houses or bonds), whether the agreed-upon price is above, below or at the stated face value (list price), in a voluntary transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller, is a “crime” without a victim in those jurisdictions where ticket scalping is illegal.
Ending ticket scalping laws shows that sometimes common economic sense can rise above politics. If every student was required to take a basic economics course in grade school, high school and college, perhaps these ticket scalping laws would have been repealed decades ago?
From today’s WSJ:
NEW DELHI — Wal-Mart took a stride toward establishing international operations capable of fueling its sales growth as its U.S. operations mature, signing a long-awaited joint-venture pact with Bharti Enterprises to sell goods to small retailers, manufacturers and farmers in India.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, and many of its largest competitors long have coveted access to India, which boasts a $300 billion retail industry made up almost entirely of mom-and-pop shops. Indian rules don’t allow multiple-brand retailers such as Wal-Mart to sell directly to consumers, but they can run wholesale operations and provide back-end support to Indian retailers.
The 50-50 joint venture, Bharti Wal-Mart, will provide wholesale cash-and-carry and back-end supply-chain management operations in the country, the companies said. Bharti Wal-Mart will also supply retailers such as Bharti Retail, a unit of Bharti Enterprises that is setting up a separate, wholly owned retail chain in India that will sell directly to the end consumer.
Bharti Wal-Mart will launch its first store by the end of 2008 and will open up to 15 such facilities over the next seven years, employing about 5,000 people, the companies said. A typical store will stand between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet and sell a wide range of fruits and vegetables, groceries and staples, stationery, footwear, clothing, consumer durables and other general merchandise items, the companies said.
Bottom Line: American companies like AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Dell and Google employ thousands of Indians in call centers and research centers in India allowing these American companies to become larger, stronger and more efficient, creating more jobs in the U.S. (and India) for these companies, and these jobs in India are allowing thousands or millions of Indians to enter the middle class. Then American companies like Starbucks, Foot Locker, Domino’s Pizza and Wal-Mart sell low-priced products to millions of middle-class Indians, allowing these companies to become larger, stronger and more efficient, creating more jobs in the U.S. (and India), and increasing the standard of living in India.
Seems like thousands, no probably millions, of voluntary win-win deals to me. Trade works. America is better off trading with India, and India is better off trading with the U.S.
We should all learn this lesson from the bridge collapse: nearly every newsworthy tragedy we see would be less common if those who could have prevented it were subject to the harsh and impartial oversight of the free market. At the same time, nearly every tragedy we see will result in endlessly broadcast exhortations that we eliminate more of that free market and replace it with more of the same government that allowed the tragedy to happen in the first place. The same counterarguments presented above will apply the next time you see a newsworthy tragedy. If enough of us begin using them, perhaps someday we’ll start learning these correct lessons.
Imagine if a Wal-Mart fell in on customers, killing them. What would be the reaction? The CEOs of Wal-Mart would be strung up. Certainly there would not be any public moaning about how the roofs of our nation’s shopping centers are in disrepair. The blame would be focused and intense, with no excuses tolerated.
The correct solution: get government completely out of the business of building bridges. Private engineers and inspectors, completely independent of the power of government to insulate them from the consequences of shoddy work, will inspect with the zeal of (most) private accounting and law firms, who jealously guard their reputations for excellence. Imagine how safe we’d feel if the people who inspect and approve bridges could actually lose their jobs and their fortunes if they make a fatal mistake!
~Brad Edmonds writing for the Mises Institute
Interesting post today on Greg Mankiw’s blog, “The Sociology of Economics.”
“The economists are the only social scientists in the room who are willing to argue with the statisticians. This could be that you are a more argumentative lot in the absence of substance, but also that you know something. I’m not qualified to tell who wins these disputes, but the statisticians seem to regard the economists with a high degree of regard. Why do you think that different disciplines view the importance of statistics differently?”
MP: In my economics doctoral program at George Mason I had 4 classes in PhD-level statistics and one course in mathematical economics, and George Mason is relatively “non-mathematical.” Therefore, I think most economists today get rigorous training in statistics, compared to sociology and other social sciences.
Exhibit A: In a previous post I wrote about why Larry Summers was fired from Harvard for saying something rather sensible and non-controversial from a statistics standpoint. Perhaps the lack of training in statistics in social sciences and other disciplines contributed to Summers’ downfall.
Cato: “The closest thing we have to a state religion in the United States isn’t Christianity. It’s corn.” Given Washington’s love affair with corn ethanol, promoted as a way to end dependence on foreign oil, you would think the politicians and bureaucrats would love other biofuels like soybean oil. But you would be wrong.
“Bob Teixeira of Charlotte, NC, decided it was time to take a stand against U.S. dependence on foreign oil. So last fall the Charlotte musician and guitar instructor spent $1,200 to convert his 1981 diesel Mercedes to run on vegetable oil. He bought soybean oil in 5-gallon jugs at Costco, spending about 30 percent more than diesel would cost.
His reward, from a state that heavily promotes alternative fuels: a $1,000 fine last month for not paying motor fuel taxes. He has been told to expect another $1,000 fine from the federal government.
To legally use veggie oil, state officials told him, he would have to first post a $2,500 bond.
Teixeira is one of a growing number of fuel-it-yourselfers — backyard brewers who recycle restaurant grease or make moonshine for their car tanks. They do it to save money, reduce pollution or thumb their noses at oil sheiks.
They’re also caught in a web of little-known state laws that can stifle energy independence.
Read more here.
It would be easy to imagine Reno, Ohio, as the type of place that would be hit hardest by outsourcing – a small American town losing out to the invisible hand shifting jobs to places like Bangalore. Instead, outsourcing is bringing the jobs to Reno. Across the street from an Army Reserve center and next to a farm, a customer-service call center hums, its 250 workers answering phones for online travel agency Expedia. The center’s owner? Indian conglomerate Tata Group (NYSE:TTM), based in Mumbai.
According to the Organization for International Investment, firms headquartered abroad employ 5.1 million Americans in their U.S. offices. But while these jobs have typically been in manufacturing (think German carmakers’ factories in the South), the mix is changing, and more companies are finding that hiring Americans offers distinct advantages. Some companies feel hearing a fellow American makes callers feel more comfortable. Other foreign firms think Americans bring a more entrepreneurial attitude to their work. In Expedia’s case, its call-center workers need a firm grasp on U.S. geography.
Read more from CNN.
(HT: Sanil Kori)
First it was Starbucks entering the Indian market, then Wal-Mart, then Foot Locker and now Procter and Gamble is set to enter the Indian skin care market with a range of products, read more here.
(HT: Sanil Kori)
The tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis is a stark reminder that too much of our transportation infrastructure is not well-maintained and requires extensive, costly investments to be fixed or even, in some cases, completely replaced.
Nearly a fifth of America’s roads are now considered in poor shape and about one-in-four bridges is rated “structurally deficient.” The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the cost to fix these problems is a staggering $460 billion.
Is more federal transportation money the answer? The problem is that 98% of our bridges and 97% of our roads are owned and operated by state and local governments — and that these governments have often used past increases in federal transportation aid simply to replace their own infrastructure spending.
Instead, a few states and cities are now creatively turning to the private sector for help. They are partnering with private investors to build from scratch new toll roads, bridges and other infrastructure that the private owners — not government — will finance and operate. A few cash-strapped cities and states are also replenishing their transportation trust funds — so that they can pour more money into repair and maintenance — by auctioning off existing toll roads and bridges to private operators, who are bidding far more for these assets than most experts would have predicted.
~From today’s WSJ editorial “How To Keep Our Bridges Safe“
Note: The original U.S. toll roads in the 18th and 19th century were privately owned, until taken over by state highway deparments in the early 1900s, click here for some history.
The last major highway bill was passed in 2005.
From the Heritage Foundation in 2005: “With the House proposing $370 billion against the Senate’s $318 billion, the President ultimately forced both sides to accept $284 billion as the upper limit on spending, and that number became a part of both bills. But while the President won on total spending, Congress apparently believed that its consolation prize was the right to waste the money on frivolous programs that provided little or no safety and mobility to the motorists whose taxes fund the program.”
From CBS News in 2005: Congress passed sweeping highway and mass transit legislation that will send $284 billion to the states to build and fix roads, create thousands of new jobs and — lawmakers hope — save lives and cut hours wasted in traffic jams.
The bill “will affect every American in some way,” said Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt. “The impact of this bill will be felt for decades to come.”
The bill is also stuffed with thousands of so-called “earmarks,” projects big and small that influential members of Congress have put in to by-pass state highway department priorities and make a splash in their home districts.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, which lists 6,361 of these projects valued at $23 billion, and other watchdog groups say such projects are wasteful, handed out as political rewards.
From the Cato Institute in 2005: You may recall the highway bill that Congress passed in July. It was the biggest porkfest in history — more than 13,000 individual projects awarded federal tax dollars in an orgy of logrolling and back-scratching.
Among the most notorious projects were two bridges in Alaska, dubbed the “bridges to nowhere.” The bill included $223 million for a bridge linking Gravina Island to the town of Ketchikan in Alaska. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, federal taxpayers will eventually pay $315 million for this bridge. Here’s the deal: Ketchikan is a town of 8,000 people (13,000 in the whole county, and population is declining). Its airport is on the nearby Gravina Island. Right now you have to take a 7-minute ferry ride from the airport to the town. To save people that 7-minute ride, Alaska wants to build a $315 million bridge.
MP: Perhaps instead of building “bridges to nowhere,” Congress should have paid more attention to existing bridges in need of repair?
Thanks to Larry Kudlow.
We live in an age of unprecedented medical innovation. Unfortunately, most of today’s cutting-edge research is conducted outside Europe, which was once a pioneer in this field. About 78% of global biotechnology research funds are spent in the U.S., compared to just 16% in Europe. Americans therefore have better access to modern drugs. One result is that in the U.S., the annual death rate from cancer is 196 per 100,000 people, compared to 235 in Britain, 244 in France, 270 in Italy and 273 in Germany (see chart above, click to enlarge).
It is both a tragedy and an embarrassment that Europe hasn’t kept up with the U.S. in saving and improving lives. What’s to blame? The Continent’s misguided policies and state-run health-care systems.
It is time for politicians and regulators to confront our backward health-care systems and unleash the powers of medical research. Besides expanding drug budgets, European countries should work together to deregulate the pharmaceutical industry — for instance, by speeding up the approval process for new drugs. The EU can better ensure that drug patents are adequately protected both in Europe and around the world against compulsory licensing and other infringements. Finally, we should give medical researchers tax incentives to slow the brain drain to the U.S. — much like Ireland is attracting artists with favorable tax laws. We Europeans are getting older; we should be getting wiser, healthier and happier, too.
~From today’s WSJ, “Sicko in Europe” by Daniel Capezzone, president of the productivity committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies