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Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Links is a little cranky

+This is a story from India, but it applies here as well. One of the chief ways to restrict vehicle use in pedestrian areas is to simply make people pay for parking. This is simply a matter of looking at things differently. Why is our entire infrastructure geared toward the ease of use of drivers? "There Should Be No Free Parking".

+Notice how this orients the casual student, the non-major who will only encounter economics once in this survey course. They start off with an abstract market that always works, versus having to see the messy parts when it doesn’t. They then proceed to the long-run, and only after everything else do they get to something that might help them understand why unemployment is so high for young college graduates. Only then might they be introduced to the institutions that make markets happen, if those are discussed at all. Colleges are teaching economics backwards...or wrong entirely.

+I try to stay away from this sort of thing, but here's a good piece in the Guardian about the next steps for Detroit. There's so many people doing so many interesting, revolutionary things in Detroit that I am fully confident the city will be fine in the long term, but since this country never looks at the long term most people are focused on the bankruptcy and heartache.

+Michael Garrity, the co-founder and chief executive officer of FinanceIt, tells me that one reason that small and medium-size businesses struggle to compete with big-box stores, especially around holiday time, is that they need to get paid up front and sometimes consumers would prefer to spread out big payments over time. FinanceIt lets merchants approve customers for financing at point-of-sale with a simple scan of their driver’s license, giving them the in-house financing chops that big retailers already enjoy. Another reason is that our entire infrastructure is designed to support and benefit big box retailers and steer most consumers away from pedestrian-friendly downtown shopping districts. But, hey, let's get everyone more in debt. That'll solve it.

+The glory days of the United States and Soviet race to space are long over, but another rivalry between two titans of entrepreneurship has taken its place. Yesterday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully completed its first transfer of a satellite into orbit. On the same day Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, the Amazon founder’s secretive space project, debuted a new liquid hydrogen rocket engine particularly suited for human space travel. Why the hell are these two clowns spending so much money trying to get to space, when they could be spending that money fixing the planet we have? I know, because they're ultra-rich individualist technologists who are looking for a way to get themselves and their rich buddies off the planet when they destroy this one.

+An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as "freeriders" – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned. Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama's main channel for climate action. From the lobbyists who brought such American classics as "Stand Your Ground" and new voter ID laws, comes a new set of laws designed to ensure the planet becomes a steaming pile of garbage.