Saturday, November 12, 2005

Free Markets = Free Competition

Pima County and Tucson are pondering placing limitations of what payday lenders can charge and how close they can be together - all in the name of "protecting" the poor.

The damn Arizona Daily Star gets it, why can't these guys. Placing controlls on businesses trying to enter a field only helps the businesses that are already in it. These rules wil hurt those they're supposed to help. To make it worse the limits won't effect already open lenders, only new ones.

Is that the intent? Are our city and county governments deliberately trying to hurt us. It seems so, since they want the state legislature to take action, maybe they are trying to make the problem worse and worse until that happens.

Which would sort of mean that the problem of paydaylenders is not so bad to actually need correction.

Limiting competition here means the current players are free to amass higher profits at the expense of their customers. Lots of payday lenders mean they are all competing for customers and cutting margins as much as possible - this, and only this, help low-income (actually all)consumers.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Why the Paris Riots

The Guardian printed an article on the Paris riots a couple of days ago. The money quote -

The country's immigration and integration policy is based on one of the founding principles of the republic that all its citizens are equal. Few politicians will yet admit, however, that radical and anti-republican measures such as positive discrimination may now be unavoidable.
Why “positive” discrimination? The reason these guys are chronically unemployed is that French labor policy – the one based on the republic’s founding principles – ensures that the young and in-experienced are kept out of the market by forcing prospective employers to pay far more for their work than the value it adds to the company’s bottom line.
I’ve been to France a few times and one of the little differences that illustrate my point is that, except in large chain stores like Carre-Four, French grocery stores do not have baggers. You’ve got to do it yourself. Now you might say that’s not a particularly important job and you’d be correct. It’s why the French don’t do it – the French consumer is not willing to pay for the service at the prices the government demands so businesses won’t include it. But it is a source of job experience nonetheless, one of many denied by the French governments “egalitarian” policies.
Britain, for example, doesn’t seem to have too large a problem getting immigrants working. They’re getting roughly 16,000 a month from the former Eastern Bloc countries and are still maintaining an under 5% unemployment rate. France on the other hand has given approximately 700 work permits in the last 10 months – permits the British immigrants don’t need.
There’s no need for the French to give up their principles of equality and liberty, merely that they actually live up to them. Get rid of your ridiculously high minimum wage, limits on hours worked, and actually let employers fire non-performers, and then lower your barriers to entrepreneurship and you’ll see your economy flourish – able to absorb the immigrant influx without so much as a burp.
France’s current problems are caused by an excess of government intervention. Don’t let them make it worse by allowing more in the form of Affirmative action and Equal Opportunity laws.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

And In A Victory For The 4th And 5th Admendments

Floridians charged with DUI will get to see the breathalyzers source code.

The sad thing is, the state's attorneys are more concerned with finality rather than justice.

They've argued against releasing the source code because it might put previous convictions in doubt.

Steal This!

Simple Measures Could Make Big Difference in Gas Consumption

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, gasoline prices have hit a record high, which has prompted a public outcry for the government to "do something." Federal and state officials can do much to reduce gasoline consumption, and in turn, the price of gas, by implementing existing regulations and enforcing laws already on the books.

The key to success is to work with, rather than against, motorists. With this in mind, there are several opportunities to reduce gasoline consumption, without resorting to rationing schemes or heavy-handed price controls:

Synchronize Traffic Signals – In 2003, the City of San Jose, California started to coordinate its traffic light system. By altering the timing on just a third of the city’s stoplights, traffic delays were reduced 33 percent and average travel time was reduced 16 percent. The city also estimated that this project significantly reduced fuel usage – saving approximately 471,000 gallons of gasoline each year.

Properly Install Stop Signs – Stop signs are intended to control right-of-way at intersections, not to slow traffic or discourage motorists from taking certain routes. Improper stop sign installations increase noise, emissions, and gas usage. Confining stop sign installations to locations where traffic volume or intersection conditions make them necessary would save significant amounts of gasoline.

Promote and Enforce Lane Courtesy – Lane courtesy, the practice of yielding the left lane to faster moving traffic, strongly influences highway safety, traffic flow, congestion, and the entire driving environment. Disregarding lane courtesy creates more congestion, and in turn, it contributes to speed fluctuations, both of which increase overall fuel consumption.

"Most people would be amazed by the fuel savings that would occur if these simple, well-proven, strategies were implemented. There is an urgent need to properly implement traffic control measures that promote smoother traffic flow.

Not written by me (obviously) - for those interested in traffic law related issues go over to the National Motorist Association's website.

Tough Choices

. . .the very day that the governor lifted the moratorium on evictions, her
landlord presented her with an eviction notice. The reason? Failure to pay
September's rent. The Smiths, like everyone else in the city, had been forced to
evacuate. . .
Ms. Smith is determined to fight the eviction, and local
lawyers have come to her aid. But the real reason for the eviction notice is
that houses that didn't flood are at a premium and her landlord, like many
others, is eager to cash in.

Housing is at a premium now and can demand higher prices, homebuilders will flock to the area to cash in on the larger than normal profits to be made. In this scenario some people will be hurt in the short term, but prices will come down quickly as new housing is constructed (by the greedy eager to cash in on human misery).

Or we can fix prices at pre-disaster rates, ensuring that the incentive for new construction stays at pre-disaster levels despite the now greater demand. In this scenario a few of people benifit in the short term, but a lot are screwed in the long (by the greedy not so eager to cash in on human misery if there isn't any cash to actually be had).