Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winners and losers

Bootleggers and Baptists explains more than any macro-economic model I have seen. Someone alert the proper Nobel committee. Never underestimate the power of rent-seeking coalitions.

While we're at it, never underestimate the tenacity with which people will hang on to their sunk human capital.  (This is where even economists put aside what they know about sunk costs.)

Today's WSJ includes "California's Bullet Train Derailment A judge says the rail authority is breaking the law. Who cares!" Eminent domain is being used to confiscate private property for a project that will never be completed.

This morning's LA Times includes "Buses are their route to a brighter future" which emphasizes that it's not easy depending on the region's bus system. But it would be asking a lot to get transit fans to connect the dots. The Times has been beating the drums for rail transit for as long as I can remember.  We live in a world of trade-offs and we have less bus transit service now than we could have, had funds not been diverted by the campaign to build rail.  A lot has been spent so that fewer could be served. Where are all those who make it a point to be advocates for the people described in the story?  Read the whole thing.

Many years ago, the advantages of bus over rail for modern American cities was demonstrated by Meyer, Kain and Wohl. But that analysis was no match for the B and B coalition.