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Economics

February 23, 2015

"San Francisco Bay Bridge’s troubles: How a landmark became a debacle"

Yet one more reason why the other 49 shouldn't imitate Cali.

Many of the problems are linked to the bridge’s unusual complexity, according to a panel of engineers that looked at the project last summer for the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Their report concluded that California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) engineers had warned at the time that the bridge would be a technical nightmare. The design panel chose the configuration, the report said, because of “aesthetics” and “without a full appreciation” of its challenges.

All but one of the bridge experts on the selection panel opposed the final design, but they were outvoted by those with no bridge knowledge or experience.

Two more reasons:

"You Didn’t Even Know Just How Stupid The LA School District’s Plan For iPads Was".

"Northridge Quake 20 Years Later: 5 Lessons Not Learned".

"Aging water mains a $1-billion headache for DWP"

Another look at what happens when city governments run out of money.

About one-fifth of the city's water pipes were installed before 1931 and nearly all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 15 years. They are responsible for close to half of all water main leaks, and replacing them is a looming, $1-billion problem for the city.

See also, from February 18, "Water main break floods Hollywood Hills neighborhood, submerges vehicles".

February 22, 2015

"Vindicating Standard Oil, 100 years later"

Fine, short piece explaining why the 1911 Standard Oil decision is not the huge triumph for antitrust it's made out to be.

February 18, 2015

"Greece's Exit From the Euro Would Be a Socialist Disaster"

Louis Woodhill:

Assuming that the ECB were to handle the situation properly, Tsipras' implied threat to take Greece out of the euro is perfectly analogous to a bank robber holding a gun to his own head and threatening to shoot unless the tellers hand over the money. Yes, there would be a bit of a mess to clean up after the thief pulled the trigger, but the robber would get the worst of it, by far.

(But can the ECB "handle the situation propertly"? I'm hopeful but skeptical.)

"Unemployment insurance and unemployment"

John Cochrane blogs about the recent important paper by Marcus Hagedorn, Iourii Manovskii and Kurt Mitman, "The Impact of Unemployment Benefit Extensions on Employment: The 2014 Employment Miracle".

February 17, 2015

"My neighborhood revolution, one letter at a time"

Outstanding. Pass it along to your favorite do-gooding Liberal with the suggestion that instead of plumping for more big government, he or she should spend some time teaching a little kid to read. Or even better, an adult.

The number of illiterate people in our country is criminal. The number of people who are aware of the literacy rate and choose to do nothing is even more criminal. Convincing people to read in a society where the primary use for books is decorations and drink coasters will be extremely difficult; however, I think we can do it if we work together collectively and just take it one word, one sentence, one paragraph and one book at a time.

"Have You No Respect for the Law (of Demand)?!"

Really excellent, short discussion of the minimum wage by Will Wilkinson.

That is, minimum wage laws work to ensure that those who already have the fewest opportunities to develop their capacities, have even fewer still. They say this baleful effect is strongest for young blacks.

Progressives find grand, symbolic political importance in the minimum wage. But isn’t their most important concern the welfare and prospects of the poor?

(Link via Anthony J. Evans.)

See also Ronald Bailey's nice piece, "The Minimum Wage and Magical Thinking: Defying the law of demand never works".

"Middle-class savings like blood in the water"

Glenn Reynolds writes that President Obama's proposal to tax 529 savings reminds him of Willie Sutton.

Laugh or cry, you decide.

February 16, 2015

"My life as a climate lukewarmer"

Matt Ridley posts a blog entry that is intelligent, balanced, and just so sane. In my experience, that's pretty rare these days.

"Are Falling Prices a Bad Thing?"

Randall Holcombe emphatically answers "No!"

(Well, maybe, if you're heavily in debt that's fixed in nominal terms. But I'd hope that that isn't typical.)

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