I, Pencil: The Movie

Knowledge Problem

Lynne Kiesling

Whether or not you’ve read Leonard Read’s famous essay I, Pencil, I recommend this short video rendition, courtesy of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

It captures poetically the fascinating, marvelous coordination that we achieve through markets, enabling prosperity and well-being beyond what we would each individually be able to achieve alone. And at IPencilMovie.org there’s a set of additional commentary videos and other resources for your enjoyment, for use in the classroom, and to share with friends.

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Privatization is not for the faint of heart

Cherokee Gothic

Pakistan suffers frequent power outages that have a huge negative cost on businesses and general quality of life (story here: “Pakistan utility company fights to power chaotic port megacity“).  Here is why privatization seems like an obvious choice:

1. “Power cuts lasting 12 hours a day or more have devastated Pakistan’s economy. The loss of millions of jobs has fuelled unrest in a nuclear-armed nation already beset by a Taliban insurgency.”

2. “At the state-run Peshawar Electricity Supply Company, the majority of staff are illiterate, most new hires are relatives of existing staff and 37 percent of power generated was stolen.”

In 2008, the government decided to privatize the Karachi Electric Supply Company. The new owners fired about 1/3 of the workers, cut off customers who didn’t pay their electric bills, and cracked down on people illegally tapping into the electric system.

The response was quite telling.  First…

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Australian @greens are more extreme than @OneNationAus?

42% of party A voters second preferences the Australian Labour Party. Less than 20% of party B voters second preference the Liberal Party of Australia.

Party A is Pauline Hanson’s One Nation voters; party B are Australian Green voters. Which are more extreme in terms of the distance from the median voter?

Which is more likely be persuaded to change their vote by been told over and over in the media that there are a bunch of extremists with concerns completely unrelated to the average Australian. We should note that people vote to anger and displease under the theory of expressive voting. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is UKIP without the polish.

A Two Party System

One More Microphone

I have seen some rumblings in op-eds that we should try to organize “the center” and come up with some kind of third party for the middle. The Republicans and Democrats are too partisan and are not representing the interests of the center. Or something like that.

These people do not seem to have taken a class on elections when they were in college, because if they had they would understand that any efforts at creating third party would probably hurt their true interests.

This is because we have a largest-vote-getter, winner-take-all system. It pressures people to divide into two camps. Think of a political spectrum as a line.

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