Current Affairs

A "market failure"? Really??

Bruce Schneier, a "long-time computer-security researcher," wrote about last week's big DDoS attack on the Net as follows:

What this all means is that the [internet of things] will remain insecure unless government steps in and fixes the problem. When we have market failures, government is the only solution. The government could impose security regulations on [internet of things] manufacturers, forcing them to make their devices secure even though their customers don't care. They could impose liabilities on manufacturers, allowing people like Brian Krebs to sue them. Any of these would raise the cost of insecurity and give companies incentives to spend money making their devices secure.

I'm sorry, but I don't see it as a "market failure" requiring government as "the only solution". The company that was attacked, Dyn, seems to be a private, for-profit company. If so, it would seem to have plenty of incentive to address the problem, as would other companies providing similar services.  It's true that the problem may well be big enough and difficult enough that cooperation among these firms is necessary. But much as it would surprise some Liberals, private firms are quite capable of doing exactly that.

Note that another computer security guy, Brian Krebs, has a much more reasonable proposal, a proposal likely, after some time, to work:

. . . to address the threat from the mass-proliferation of hardware devices such as Internet routers, DVRs and IP cameras that ship with default-insecure settings, we probably need an industry security association, with published standards that all members adhere to and are audited against periodically.

The wholesalers and retailers of these devices might then be encouraged to shift their focus toward buying and promoting connected devices which have this industry security association seal of approval. Consumers also would need to be educated to look for that seal of approval. Something like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), but for the Internet, perhaps.

Raise the minimum wage a lot? You decide.

In favor: Nick Hanauer, entrepreneur, venture capitalist--according to Wikipedia, "the first non-family investor in Amazon"--and very rich. 

Against, and a direct reply to Hanauer: Adam Ozimek, "America's Worst Minimum Wage Pundit".

More against (because it's the right answer):

Deirdre McCloskey, "The Secret History of the Minimum Wage".

The Washington Examiner, "A window into the $15 wage hypocrite's world".

And a funny but true Venn diagram by Mark Perry.




"Bad Writing Costs Businesses Billions"

I won't defend the $ estimate, but I could defend the diagnosis. And this is the beginning of a solution:

Of all the serious problems in the American workplace, this one is the most solvable. And we can solve it one company, one culture, one worker at a time.

The first step is to adopt what I call “The Iron Imperative” in everything you write: treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own. To embrace it means that every time you send an email or write a document, you must take a moment to structure it for maximum readability and meaning. We are lazy; we’d rather save our own time than someone else’s. But writers who adopt The Iron Imperative stand out in the workplace for clarity and efficiency, and are more likely to get ahead. Workplace cultures that adopt it will reduce their poor writing tax.

"L.A. Unified's affordable housing units fill up, but not with teachers"

This week's bulletin from the land of You Can't Make This Stuff Up.

In the mid-2000s, in the midst of a housing boom, the Los Angeles Unified School District realized that skyrocketing rents were fueling teacher turnover.

Nearly half of all new teachers in some neighborhoods were leaving the district after three years. L.A. Unified was pouring millions of dollars into training new hires, only to watch them pick up and go.

Two below-market apartment complexes were built on unused district land and a third is under construction. Today, both are fully occupied. But not one L.A. Unified teacher lives in them.