Tag Archives: economics

Pharama Payola

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma has REAL compensated doctors hawking Pradaxa? Why should I trust those doctors’ judgments if they suggest Pradaxa to me?

Doctors are already influenced by marketing. Boxes of free pens are important, discounted drugs are important, and the American Pediatric Society has expressed concern about payola.

Is this better? Well at least these doctors’ conflict of interest is exceedingly transparent. If I was the patient of any of these doctors:

  • Dr. David Montgomery of Chicago
  • Dr. Minerva Santo-Tomas of Miami
  • Dr. Dennis Finkelstein of New York

I’d change doctors. I can’t trust that their judgements about treatments are unbiased.

Gill Scott-Heron Was Wrong

Gill Scott-Heron was wrong. Not only will the revolution be televised, it’s a marketing gold mine, and a great way for a subsidiary of a giant media conglomerate still appear to be edgy, cool, and totally rad!

NYC Craigslist Says:

MTV’s Real World is seeking cast members to tell their unique stories on our show. If you are over the age of 20 and appear to be between the ages of 20-24, and the description below sounds like you, we want to hear from you!

Are you a part of the OCCUPY WALL STREET movement?

If so, please contact realworldcasting@bunim-murray.com. Your subject heading should be YOUR NAME and WALL STREET.

Please attach 3 RECENT PHOTOS and a brief BIO, including your full NAME, DATE OF BIRTH (for ID purposes only) as well as your CONTACT INFORMATION including PHONE #.

Coming November 5. Check local listing.

“No Man. No Problem.”

Fourth in the series of indeterminate length, Recolonizing Detroit

The root cause of the problems Paul Romer encountered in Madagascar was the local population. So how about founding these cities not just in unpopulated areas, but in areas people do not identify with as well? Could this be effective? From the European perspective, that’s what the era of colonization was, but most of us have a more expansive view of ownership now. Today, the only land that doesn’t have recognized claims on is Antarctica (Actually, it’s a bit more complicated on that, but more on that later.), but that location is not likely to attract many people to it. What if instead of land, these cities were built in international waters, or somewhere else unclaimed by any country? What then?

That’s right, we’re talking about micronations.
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Taking a Byte Out of Bandwidth Costs

Estimated Number of Internet Users 1.971E+11

Average Number of Objects on a Webpage 85
Average of HTTP Requests Made
When Loading a Webpage
Average Number of Websites Visited
Per User Per Day
Total Number of HTTP Requests Each Day 1.59336E+13
Estimated Cost to Transmit 1 Gigabyte $ 0.03
Total Dollars Phillip Hallam-Baker has
Personally Saved the World Each Day
$ 445.18

Pandora’s Vox

From Carmen Hermosillo’s (aka humdog) 1994 essay Pandora’s Vox

i have seen many people spill their guts on-line, and i did so myself until, at last, i began to see that i had commodified myself. commodification means that you turn something into a product which has a money-value. in the nineteenth century, commodities were made in factories, which karl marx called “the means of production.” capitalists were people who owned the means of production, and the commodities were made by workers who were mostly exploited. i created my interior thoughts as a means of production for the corporation that owned the board i was posting to, and that commodity was being sold to other commodity/consumer entities as entertainment. that means that i sold my soul like a tennis shoe and i derived no profit from the sale of my soul. people who post frequently on boards appear to know that they are factory equipment and tennis shoes, and sometimes trade sends and email about how their contributions are not appreciated by management.

Seventeen years later, it’s still the same, but in one sense it’s worse. Before it was just selling ads based on traffic. Now we’re processing the text of your posts for sentiment. Processing your social connections to determine whether your or one of your friends are more of an “influencer.” We’re trying to peer into meaning. Typically the concerns about text-mining / social-network-analysis / big-data revolve around privacy, which I believe mostly clouds the issue.

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The Facebook Map

Paul Butler’s Facebook friend visualization has been going around the intertubes recently. He says:

Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.

While it is true that’s what the arcs represent “friends”, but the image is informed by the geographic coordinates of the planet. What I find interesting isn’t what his visualization shows, but what it doesn’t show.

Here’s what I found.
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Second in the series of indeterminate length, Recolonizing Detroit

The second story that spawned this series, was about Paul Romer’s “charter cities” idea. (Or as Metafilter put it, “neocolonial OCP-like company towns.“) Romer’s plan is get poor countries to cede governmental control of some unpopulated land to a rich foreign country and its investors, and let them build a city there. The city grows, becomes prosperous because capitalism and free markets, and then the rest of the country slowly begins to imitate the charter city. Essentially, he’s proposing creating a new Hong Kong, but without the warships and the opium.

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Immigrant Visa Type: D-1 (Detroit)

First in the series of indeterminate length, Recolonizing Detroit

Before I start, I encourage you to check out Forbes Magazine’s interactive map of American internal migration. It is fun on a bun.

Matthew Yglesias idly suggested that instead of shrinking Detroit, issue visas for immigrants willing to relocate there. This would work like an EB-5 visa, but would target people without money. Ironically, Detroit, and indeed all of Michigan, is notably absent from the list of approved Regional Centers for EB-5 investment.

He’s not the first to suggest such an idea. The reason why you want to attract immigrants is because Americans clearly aren’t interested in Detroit. Ideally you’d want to bring in people to invest, but since there are a limited number of these, you most likely will need to attract those from countries where Detroit is a step up. Yglesias specifically mentions Haiti, Gaza, Myanmar, Chad, and Nicaragua as potential sources for immigrants. Detroit already home to one of the largest Arab-American communities, and the largest mosque in the United States, so it is possible that immigrants from the sub-Sarharan Africa would find an existing community into integrate.

Predictably there were those claiming he wants to create some sort of immigration concentration camp, but that wasn’t the proposal at all, and mostly betrays an opinion of Detroit. I’ve been to Detroit, and while it’s the only place I’ve been where the nightlife was in the suburbs instead of the city, and peeking over the sound dampening walls reveals a city that has clearly seen much better days, it is not Detroit Maximum Security Prison.

The biggest problem with Yglesias’s idea is that simply replacing the residents with people from some of the poorest, and slowest economically growing parts of the world, doesn’t bring the investments needed to make Detroit stabilize, let alone thrive again. If poor people was all that what was needed, then subSaharan Africa would be rich. Is Detroit too corrupt to succeed? I doubt it, Prisoner 702408 notwithstanding.

The real impediment seems to be failing to diversifying the economy beyond automobiles. Detroit is, and should remain, a manufacturing city. Its location on the Great Lakes, between steel and energy production sites is perfect. Ann Arbor, home of the top engineering schools is close by, so an educated workforce could still be attracted. What is needed is leadership and money, not just people. How simply attracting the tired, poor, huddled masses, wretched refuse, and homeless changes this situation isn’t clear. Of course, the history this country has been one of dregs of all different societies coming for a better life; and it appears to have worked out for us.

On the flip slide the meme of the self-made rugged individualist is a myth. Rugged individual has always relied on the government to establish the conditions, and relied on the established elite (which includes the government) for aid in achieving the “self-made” endeavor. How this hypothetical poor immigrant ingratiates him/herself with the gatekeepers of capital, remains a mystery.

Recolonizing Detroit

Zeroth in the series of indeterminate length, Recolonizing Detroit

Two months ago, I began thinking about how economic growth could be promoted in depressed areas. The catalyst for this was reading two ostensibly unrelated articles. The first explicitly referred to Detroit, the second was a more oblique reference. Both of these articles did discuss how immigration, investment, and governments interact to promote or discourage growth.

Originally I was going to put these thoughts down in a single post, but as I wrote it, it grew so large and meandering that it became unwieldy for a simple blog post. Instead decided to break it up into a series of smaller and medium sized posts.

I’m doing this for two reasons. First, trying to write something long in the WordPress editor just doesn’t work. A word processor may just be a glorified text box, but somehow writing in WordPress just feels awkward. Maybe it’s due to a unconscious bias using a web browser elicits. I don’t know, but it’s not working for me. Second, I don’t feel like I have the time to devote to a single long and well organized writing. Even if I did have the time, part of me doubts that it would be any good. This isn’t an essay, since I’m not arguing for anything. I don’t know what this would be. It’s just a collection of thoughts, some more thought out than others. By breaking my thoughts into smaller pieces, perhaps will disguise these failings.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to have this blog careen over the hill and into the chasm of lefty political blog. I still have plenty of electronic plants to post about, so art will always remain the focus. Think of this as logical extension of the infrastructure posts.