A Little Bit of Treason

Like the public, I am conflicted about Snowden.

Clearly he’s a whistleblower, what he did required courage, and I have no reason to question his beliefs or motivations. Moreover, his revelations about government surveillance are very important and in some ways necessary for an informed debate about what our government is doing. I am better off knowing what I know. At the same time, we can’t have insiders scooping up mass documents and taking them out of security controls whenever they personally believe that they are serving the public’s interest.

Continue reading “A Little Bit of Treason”

Advertisements
A Little Bit of Treason

No, San Francisco is not losing its soul

The Guardian has piled on now about tech workers driving out artists in San Francisco. As a long time resident and techie who thinks the city has far too little in the way of tech jobs (vis-a-vis the Goliath that is Santa Clara county), I want to offer a different perspective. San Francisco has not lost its soul, the soul has been carefully preserved in amber, wrapped in a Grateful Dead t-shirt, and kept in the basement of a rotting Victorian. No one knows which Victorian, so all of them must be preserved as well.

Continue reading “No, San Francisco is not losing its soul”

No, San Francisco is not losing its soul

On Uber and other electronic market places

A lot of the Uber criticism seems, to me, a red herring. Cities extract enormous rents from the taxi business by selling medallions and collecting licensing fees. These fees substantially increase the price that riders must pay. Additionally, local regulators fix prices that all taxis must charge at all times. Whether it is Friday night at 2am or Sunday afternoon, you pay the same high price. But the pool of potential drivers is vast — really anyone with driving skills. This means that cabbies are willing to work for less than what they do work for, creating additional rent-extraction opportunities.

Continue reading “On Uber and other electronic market places”

On Uber and other electronic market places

Rational non-Regret (Paleo Version!)

This is a response to Steve Randy Waldman’s post about Rational Regrets, which I regret not commenting in. SRW imagines an option between a guaranteed average payout and a risky high earning payout. In the world of expected utility, we should choose the risky payout, but because most people who choose this payout will lose, will will end up, ex-post in a world where most people have regrets that they did not choose the safe payout.

And this makes me think of evolution — i.e. where does our sense for valuing risk and reward come from?

Continue reading “Rational non-Regret (Paleo Version!)”

Rational non-Regret (Paleo Version!)

Do governments normally run primary surpluses?

I was looking at the excellent OLG sunspot paper referenced by Roger Farmer in his debt-is-always-a-burden post, and noticed that he calibrated his model assuming a primary budget surplus of 2%, even though historical the U.S. has run primary budget deficits, not surpluses. Indeed achieving a primary budget balance of 0 is one of the wishes of the anti-deficit Concord Coalition, and not even the mainstream takes them seriously anymore — so why assume a primary balance of 2%? Has any nation regularly run a primary balance? I needed some data.

Continue reading “Do governments normally run primary surpluses?”

Image