Fish in a barrel 3

September 30, 2009 – 10:36 pm by John

Nate Anderson of Ars Technica wrote,

Licensed spectrum came into being for a reason. In the early days of radio, unlicensed radio stations in urban areas regularly got into "power wars" with rival stations, leading to plenty of static. Compared to this free-for-all, the licensing of radio stations in the US, and then the creation of the Federal Communications Commission, helped to solve such problems.

Actually, very little of that paragraph has even the ring of truth. As B.K. Marcus and Timoguapo van Swanson have detailed, the homesteading principle based on libertarian property-rights theory and common-law tradition was perfectly capable of resolving bandwidth disputes and remains the best way to resolve them. The Federal Communications Commission served the interests of wealthy, politically connected dinosaurs who didn't want to keep up with new types of competition, and it continues to serve the interests of large, established companies at the expense of small businesses and consumers today.

David Z. at No Third Solution and many other blaggers have expressed their due outrage at the treatment of the Michigan woman who was threatened with fines and possibly jail time for looking after neighbors' children while they waited for the school bus. I have nothing to add to this sorry affair except these brief things: 1. This is an expected outcome of Statism; this is not a bug but a feature. 2. Crap like this is probably not as rare as Statolatrists would have us believe. 3. I just want to log this in my long list of examples of State-created divisiveness, of the destruction of voluntary cooperation and community by monopolistic government.

Slate magazine ran a series of articles about the dentistry industry (I bet you never realized those two words rhymed, neither), including this one about why dentistry costs so much. Unsurprisingly, since it appeared in Slate, it is devoid of any serious economic analysis. The only two explanations I could glean from the article were: because government doesn't pay for it and because other people don't pay for it. The former would be because of a lack of socialization by our benighted leaders, and the latter because of the way dental insurance operates. Now, while an analysis of dental insurance in America could be of interest and could produce not only suggestions as to how to bring dental costs down but also provide guidance for our medical insurance industry, we get none of that. As far as I know, any actual explanation of the high costs of dentistry must include State-mandated certification (barriers to entry), regulations that prohibit less-educated and therefore lower-paid dental technicians from operating a simple dental-cleaning business (reduced competition), and the fact that for some reason, people purchase insurance for things that are relatively cheap, routine, and totally expected! This increases costs in the same way as it does for medical care!

My friend's Facebook status currently says, "is definitely a nerd and looking forward to hearing Paul Krugman speak on Friday." Paul Krugman is a dolt. Now that I'm unemployed, looking to move to Virginia to get in-state residency status to apply to George Mason University and become an economist, I have made this a solid, official, un-renegable goal: I will write a book titled Paul Krugman is a Dolt, it will be published, and it will receive wide acclaim.

It must be embarrassing to be a Statist writing about economics these days. Thomas Woods quotes one Harold Meyerson, who shared the extent of his ignorance with us in his recent Washington Post column. This is gold, Jerry, GOLD!

The problem with contemporary economics, at least with the purer strain of free-market economics associated with the University of Chicago [sic], is not simply that it failed to predict the near-collapse of the world financial system last year. The problem is that it believed such a collapse could not happen, that all risk could be quantified by mathematical models and that these quantifications could help us correctly price just about everything.
[Economists told us] there really was no need to study such things as bubbles, which only a handful of skeptics and hopelessly retro Keynesians even considered possible. Under mainstream economic theory, which held that everything was correctly priced, bubbles simply couldn't exist.

The one economist who has emerged from the current troubles with his reputation not only intact but enhanced is, of course, Keynes.

Well, honestly, in the Austro-libertarian's mind, yes, Keynes's reputation is not only still intact, it has been augmented as never before.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Fish in a barrel 3”

  2. Funny you mention dentistry. I went to the dentist yesterday and along with my regular cleaning, I took a fluoride treatment. This lasted about 1 minute, perhaps took 5 minutes of the tech's time, and used (in my estimation) about 1 liquid ounce of whatever fluoride gel goop they use these days. Most dental plans don't cover adult fluoride treatments (and they shouldn't), but I was told that if my dental plan doesn't cover this, that I will be billed for $39.

    $39 for one ounce of fluoride gel and five minutes of a community college graduate's time? There is zero reason why such a treatment should cost more than a wooden nickel.

    By David Z on Oct 1, 2009

  3. Wow, I never thought about the fluoride treatment; didn't realize it was so expensive. I think at my dentist appointment in August, my fluoride treatment cost me $15 because my insurance didn't cover it. I wonder if it actually covered part of it (I think not). $15 is obviously a lot more reasonable than $39...

    I wonder if it would be possible in a free society to buy your own fluoride kit at the store and treat yourself. Is there a good reason that isn't possible today? Legitimate safety issues?...

    Also of tangential relevance: eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions are only good for one year, probably because the Big Optometry lobby wanted to squeeze more money out of its customers. It certainly has no valid medical reason.

    By John on Oct 1, 2009

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