Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weird but Better

What a strange piece?!  Steve Coast (never heard of him before) writes an interesting piece that argues the world is getting weirder.  Why?  Because we have figured out how to manage many of the normal problems so that the weird stuff is the danger now.  He cites air travel--that air frames are far better, so now the problem is the occasional crazy pilot who can lock out the other pilot.  Of course, one of the sources of prior air travel was apparently urine corrosion for airplane bathrooms, so let's not call the old form of crashes entirely un-weird.

And I can see how this applies elsewhere--that war is far less frequent than it once was, but now we have terrorists who have outsized influence.  And terrorists are mostly ... weird. 

The article then turns to solutions: more freedom.  If we have less rules, we can do stuff faster.  Because, you know, speed is really the important thing we value.  As an incredibly impatient person, I might sympathize with that, but not really since I like the safety part.  That rules do get in the way of transactions, as Coast argues, but that just means we need to figure out the best balance.  Instead, the piece SPEEDILY takes a jump in a libertarian direction.  The move is:
If we can measure economic value as a function of transactional volume (the velocity of money for example), which appears reasonable, then fewer rules will mean more volume, which means better economics for everyone. So it used to be very hard to create an airline, now it’s easy, we have more choice and more flights and so on.
I may not an economist, but this seems to be one way to define or measure economic value.  Oh, and more volume means better economics for everyone?  No, not really, as we have found that equity/fairness/etc tend not to be produced in rule-free or rule-scarce places.  Instead, early movers/those with early advantages can use their market (and otherwise) power to dominate.  I think we used to call that colonialism/imperialism which produced stuff like slavery.

Oops, citing slavery might be a Godwin's law-like move, but I am sure enterpreneurs like Coast would prefer to have a situation where there are few laws limiting how labor is used--that would make things speedy, right?

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