MadDoctorI previously linked to an article about a neurologist who believes ADHD doesn’t exist. Here he is making that argument.

The case for being an early riser. Maureen Mackey argues that employers should encourage napping.

401(k) prospects are actually looking pretty good.

The trials and trevails of trying to legislate social mobility (international edition).

Exploring food truck economics, as well as van-based housing.

Was this man, who was arrested and thrown in jail and then solitary for calling 911 to help someone in an accident, a victim of overaggressive law enforcement, or collateral damage to the San Francisco class wars (in infographic form)? Here’s an infographic and Salon is worried that San Francisco is going to lose its status as a liberal icon.

The Economist has a bullish article on MOOC and the future of education. [more]

Many Americans look approvingly on Germany’s education tracking system, but they’re increasingly controversial over there. Many of us have also looked favorably on their apprenticeship model, which is being increasingly spurned.

I’ve been complimentary of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s attempts at offering cheap college degrees in Texas. Florida, too, is working on the $10,000 degree.

If we’re looking to cut costs at traditional colleges, administration might be a good place to start.

James Samuelson makes the case for standardized tests.

So apparently work habits are pretty much the same across generations (from Boomers to Millenials). I hate it when science ruins perfectly fun and helpful generalizations.

Matt K Lewis defends not working. Why do we work, anyway?

Employers are getting better at measuring the value of workers. This is where the rubber hits the road on productivity measurement goes. A lot of the objections are based on their inaccuracy. What happens when they become accurate?

Jack Baruth explains how corporations increasingly devalue excellence in favor of reliable efficiency. I’d object, but I often see the appeal. For education, I’ve often said, we have to plan for the mediocre or at least middling teacher instead of worrying about the best.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is pushing for the sort of regional visas I’ve been talking about. Adam Ozimek says more.

First “North Colorado” and now “West Maryland“?

Liberals like sharing, and New York is liberal, so why does New York hate the sharing economy? Because they love regulation more, evidently.

Peanut butter is the ultimate American food.

A long while back the Discovery Channel had a show about building a giant dome over Houston and another about making New Orleans a floating island. In both cases, to protect these places from nature. One wonders the practicality of even having cities that require such protection. It’s like having major metropolitan areas built around the scarcity of islands and bays on the east and west coasts.


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14 Responses to Linkluster Political Prisoners in Morocco

  1. Liberals like sharing, and New York is liberal, so why does New York hate the sharing economy? Because they love regulation more, evidently.

    As I like to note, the people who write and read The New York Times are not the same people who set regulatory policy whether as politicians or as state regulators operating under the aegis of politicians. The kinds of young progressive types who like sharing are rather different than the ethnic politicians who work for the interest of their quasi-corporate supporters who may be holding taxi medallions that cost considerable amounts to purchase.

    A place like NYS tends to be admittedly pro-regulation because there are so many monied interests that rely on the regulations, but also because somebody will complain about the perils of the world without the regulation. Given some of the scummy people around here who would make a quick buck on anything, that fear is sometimes justified. A few people on a Seattle transit board are pro-sharing and pro-Uber, but a few have noted, what happens if there’s an accident and the insurance companies state they’re not liable for commercial use of the car? What becomes of the injured passengers? Are they going to sue a barely profitable start up or the broke cab driver/owner of the vehicle who obviously doesn’t have the money to pay for care of the injured party?* Ultimately, the state may end up stepping in tax payer cost to rectify the faults, hence why some argue that for hire vehicles need proper insurance and regulations.

    *Which has happened with unlicensed commuter van accidents. Van gets into an accident, insurance doesn’t pay for the injuries of the passengers, and the driver is somebody with no assets worth suing for. Who pays the medical bills and missed income for the injured?

    • trumwill says:

      Uber and the like are trying to sort out the insurance bit, but they’re stymied by the fact that they’re being actively blocked from setting up legitimately. It’s not unlike people complaining about AirBnB not paying hotel taxes… while AirBnB is trying to figure out how to pay taxes.

      • FWIW, the rideshare firms could qualify in NYC has “black car” firms, essentially since their model is not to use traditional street hails, but to use apps and texts as the dispatching tools in lieu of calling a phone operator. The other major difference is that while black car firms get TLC plates and mandated insurance, these firms are trying to bypass those types of requirements in order for their “sharing” option to work.

        I’m biased as my dad used to work as a black car driver for nearly a decade or so, and sent my brother and I to Catholic school on working long hours driving around New York’s, um, elite and their corporate employees. One the reasons he stopped doing it as a job was that insurance was much too high for the few calls he was getting.

        Admittedly, I’m wondering if other cities have similar black car services, or if Uber is trying to bring an NYC style service to other places, which may explain some of the problems that taxis have with the service which have never faced that level of competition.

        FWIW, I think AirBnB’s problem is that even if they pay hotel taxes, some local jurisdictions may resent having homeowners use their homes as hotels as it may not actually meet housing codes.

        • trumwill says:

          I think it’s still suboptimal if Uber is being forced to conform to someone else’s business model without good reason. It’s a generous form of incumbent protection.

          With regard to AirBnB, I consider that a problem with housing codes (HOA’s and the like) rather than AirBnB. You’re right that such things are driving a fair amount of the opposition from the locals (though I think less so in NYC, where hotels enjoy such limited competition and want to keep it that way), but I still think a lot of that is problematic.

  2. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is pushing for the sort of regional visas I’ve been talking about.

    On the one hand, it worked well in Canada. On the other hand, the provincial programmes are attempts to just get immigrants to go somewhere other than Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. I don’t know if highly skilled immigrants are willing to go some of our worst cities and most depressed areas of the country. It’s one thing to get immigrants to come to Iowa to work in some IT firm or upstate New York in dairy processing, but would they want to be confined to Detroit or Brownsville?

    It’s like having major metropolitan areas built around the scarcity of islands and bays on the east and west coasts..

    “This needs to be explained more”.

    • trumwill says:

      I suspect that Detroit will still look attractive to a lot of people. Probably not as desirable an immigrant as a place like Iowa might. But still an improvement over most of the world.

      On the second part, I mean that our high-class cities seemed selected in places with geographical scarcity. It’s a lot easier to keep DFW affordable than it is to keep an island or peninsula affordable. But the vast majority of our prestige cities are placed on the latter. Some of that is history, though some of that is more recent decision (made by people who can afford the Bay Area or NYC regardless of cost… and their employees have to follow).

      • I suspect that Detroit will still look attractive to a lot of people.

        If they find work. If they hear that it’s “Delta City” with no jobs, then nobody will bother. A lot of immigrants just want steady jobs for their remittances, so the idea of starting a business is a bit of a leap for some of them.

        FWIW, some have alleged that NYC’s immigrant population is why the city never fell as hard as Philadelphia did. The South Bronx may have been abandoned apartments, but immigrants were keeping units occupied in the rest of the city that others didn’t want.

        • trumwill says:

          One of the great potentials of regional visas it’s that it’s a way to actually create jobs. The H1-B system is geared towards being an employee. This would provide an opportunity to say “Want to start a business in the USA? All you have to do is agree to start it in Detroit!” If I were in charge if issuing visas in Detroit, that’s actually the #1 thing I would be looking for: entrepreneurs.

  3. On the second part, I mean that our high-class cities seemed selected in places with geographical scarcity.

    It’s a historical legacy of being the first settled part of the country in the case of the Northeast, which much of the institutional capital residing here. Sunbelt cities have grown considerably, and one could argue that they’ve done so at the cost of non-primate cities in the Northeast and Midwest. It’s easy to shut down a factory and Buffalo and move it to say, Texas, but it’s hard to move Harvard from Boston. Even Wall Street despite plenty of mergers with smaller regional banks isn’t so easy to cart off the some other state.

    made by people who can afford the Bay Area or NYC regardless of cost… and their employees have to follow

    There’s a certain aspiration that comes to living in these primate cities. Less so with Sunbelt cities, even with improvements in terms of culture, tolerance, higher density living, and even public transit. Plus, given Northeastern tendencies, do you really want us bidding up the price of some areas and overpaying for everything because it’s cheaper than New York?

    FWIW, one could argue that there’s a difference between say, the out-of-town folks who come to New York to live that NYC experience which is really limited to certain areas of the city, and those who grew up here and leave NYC Metro because the suburbs are too expensive, and their employers simply will never pay enough. There are plenty of people who do leave for Southern locales, some of whom who are happy because they didn’t *need* what New York offered, and a few who come back missing everything. Despite being filled with the ancestors of people who left their home countries, moving around like you did is sorta seen as a weird to many, um, family focused New Yorkers, many of whom stay because they just can’t see themselves not being within 30 minutes of a certain family member.

    • trumwill says:

      Historical legacy is a significant factor, as I noted. You can’t move Harvard to Texas, but you don’t need to. But I think a lot of it is that the decisions are made by people who are relatively immune to high CoL’s. Bill Gates and Paul Allens leaving Albuquerque for home as soon as they get a chance. There are a multitude of factors, though. I think some (though not all) of those reasons point towards an indifference to the consequences of these decisions for those who are not wealthy. It took astronomically different operating expenses to finally get the aerospace industry out of California and into Texas, Arizona, and Virginia. On the other hand, the aerospace industry proves its possible and so that it hasn’t happened (yet) in software is perhaps indicative of employee preference. Not that the employees themselves aren’t also comparatively immune to the cost of living.

  4. I think some (though not all) of those reasons point towards an indifference to the consequences of these decisions for those who are not wealthy.

    FWIW, using Microsoft is an interesting example, as Seattle was a much smaller city back then, and I suspect that the no income tax factor was far more important. So setting up shop there didn’t seem too crazy, and I suspect it wasn’t as expensive as it is today. Yes, they could move again, but the employees wouldn’t be too content with that, and it would be a bit of a disruption to the day to day management of the firm

    I don’t think that there’s indifference per se. Even with corporate jets, I think some owners are going to be unlikely to want to shuffle around their operations, and allegedly, much of New Jersey’s corporate offices exist because the owners preferred NJ’s tax regime, but wanted access to NYC Metro. Mind you, some firms can get away with having some functions held out of state with corporate HQ in the high COL region. Regardless, in the case of the software industry, it’s a legacy issue, but the type of people who enter that field are more likely to express a desire to live in certain locales over say, factory workers. The pay of those in software can make up for some of the problems of living in a high COL area, but other workers aren’t as lucky.

    I’ll also note that once upon a time, Long Island once had an aerospace industry. While some engineers are left, but once the Cold War was over, the plants shut down. The company still exists via some mergers, but the work is done elsewhere by cheaper labour. Supposedly, the same thing happened with California’s aerospace industry.

    • trumwill says:

      I think the reason they went to Washington is primarily that they were from there (liked it there, etc.). If they wanted cheap and no state income tax, Texas was right next door.

      The comparison with aerospace is interesting. Not the building of stuff, because that’s more comparable to manufacturing. But the designing of stuff. There would be no real problem designing stuff in California but building it in Arizona. Proximity isn’t an issue as a lot of it is designed in one part of the country but then built in another.

      So why the difference? I’d argue that it’s not legacy, as the legacy of the aerospace industry is California. It could be the economics of government contracts. I’d argue that it’s a matter of preference regarding the decision-makers. Not just upper management (which I think may be the case in other areas) but the prestige software coders, product designers, and so on. Nobody who is in a position to influence the decision has to worry all that much about cost of living. With aerospace, on the other hand, I think the personnel is different.

      • Nobody who is in a position to influence the decision has to worry all that much about cost of living.

        A few years ago, they were reconsidering firing up a warehouse to do some work on some older jet planes, and the entire idea was shot down because the wages that they’d have to pay to the engineers were simply too high for the company to make a profit. So instead of coming back to Long Island, they opted for somewhere else cheaper.

        Mind you, engineers tend to have a bit of a conservative bias, so it’s not as hard to get them to move to a red state (or region) for employment.

        If they wanted cheap and no state income tax, Texas was right next door.

        I’ve jokingly said that Seattle is free riding off the fact that Microsoft and Frasier made the city seem “cultured” and erased some of the grittier aspects of the city given it’s years as Boeing’s hub and Nirvana’s starting point, but that the lack of a state income tax makes the state more attractive to a certain demographic. Austin could easily attract those same people, but the whole “it’s in Texas” thing scares some people off.

        • trumwill says:

          To be fair, Seattle also has U-Dub. My impression is that has always been considered the cultured twin to Tacoma.

          Austin is pulling its own and is actually one of the stronger cases against my thesis. It does have some cost-of-living issues, though (a) that could have been better addressed than it has been (as opposed to the Bay Area, where there is already dense and you can only build up so much in an earthquake zone) and (b) a lot of the tech firms are in the more livable suburbs north of there. Of course, it’s not entirely coincidental (to me) that a lot of the jobs Austin is getting are satellite offices of west coast employers. But that’s fine, if it lets the execs live on the coast and their employees live somewhere affordable.

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