The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets

Yes, the jackbooted BeeEss knows no political boundary.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus wants a committee of journalists to decide which reporters are “legitimate” so the Legislature can limit Capitol access to sufficiently apolitical reporters.

Papers please!

No papers or papers we don't approve of?  No freedom of the press for you!

Gee, where have I seen that sort of thing done before?  Let me see if this helps you remember.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

This one has my rolling my eyes, convinced that in this world there is utterly no reason to open or run a business.

It's bad enough that the government reaches its hand in your pocket and rips you off wholesale -- what's worse is when the government gives license to private companies to do it too.  

For years, businesses have accused Yelp of running an extortion racket. If companies refused to pay for ads, Yelp would allegedly pull down some of their positive reviews (and wreck sales) until they gave in. Well, those accusations don't appear to hold much legal water; an appeals court has upheld a California judge's dismissal of a 2010 class action lawsuit that claimed Yelp was committing civil extortion. Needless to say, the recommendation service is ecstatic. It cites the ruling as proof that the shops simply had an "axe to grind" and were either trying to "draw attention away" from bad reviews or else prop up review manipulation schemes.

As Engadget notes, that isn't what the court ruled.

What the court ruled was that the company that had positive reviews posted about it didn't own the reviews.

That is, Yelp owned them and could do with them whatever it wanted, including removing them if the company didn't buy the advertising it was trying to sell!

I've written on this before in the context of so-called "comparison sites" that appear to be offering some sort of review of competitors in the marketplace for this or that (specifically, credit cards.)  It turns out that nothing of the sort is going on -- it is nothing more than a company selling advertising space and putting it forward as a "competitive review."

I wonder if the plaintiffs went in the wrong direction alleging extortion; wouldn't consumer fraud or even defamation been more-appropriate here, or perhaps as a companion allegation?

There's a fairly decent case to be made that without fair disclosure that the so-called reviews that you're "allowed" to see are a function of how much advertising spending a company has done the consumer is materially misled by the alleged reviews that are visible.

There is, and properly-so, a pretty-stringent standard for extortion under the law.  But the fact remains that there appears to be plenty of evidence that Yelp does at least remove positive reviews if you don't pay for their advertising.  IMHO they don't need to go to the length of posting fake negative reviews in order to implicate the law on consumer fraud-by-deception -- all they need to do is intentionally, in exchange for money (or the refusal to pay said funds) alter not the number but the tenor of opinions while fostering the belief that what is being presented in some way reflects the actual opinions of those who have been to said business.

As an aside, what this restaurant did in counter-retaliation is literally side-splitting -- they offer a discount for bad reviews!  This of course is against Yelp's terms of service, but since they're refusing to pay the dude demanding money to keep the good reviews up, heh, what is Yelp going to do about it?  They can keep removing the reviews that are obviously posted as a result of the discount but there isn't jack and crap they can do to the restaurant itself.

Well will you look at that -- the market figured out how to sort this crap out all on its own, and if more establishments did the same thing, in fact if any material percentage of them on Yelp did the same thing rather than buying advertising, Yelp's business model would be destroyed.

And there wouldn't be crap Yelp could do about it.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Yet another sacrifice on the altar of political correctness.

A college professor who lost his job over anti-Semitic tweets is angry about losing the gig, but not sorry about his Twitter missives.

Steven Salaita, who was set to begin teaching at the University of Illinois this fall, says he was simply speaking his mind when he tweeted out messages during Israel’s military conflict in Gaza earlier this year. But the school deemed the tweets offensive and pulled its offer of a tenured position in its American Indian studies program.

“We believe that our classrooms ought to be a place where opinions, regardless of their origin or their perspective, ought to be able to be offered freely and students not feel intimidated or unable to express their opinion and that’s what led us to the decision,” said University of Illinois President Robert Easter.

This of course only applies to opinions don't offend someone.

Those that do are "intimidating" and thus barred.

Let me point something out for Mr. Easter: The entire reason we have academic freedom in a University setting, and The First Amendment generally, is that nobody ever tries to bar (or censor) opinions that aren't offensive.

Does this guy strongly dislike Israel?  Yes.  So what?

He's not teaching a class on Israeli-Arab relations or something similar, you know.  He's an instructor on American Indian studies -- which has exactly zero to do with Israel.

So here's the real question: If he can't speak his mind, on his own time and with his own resources, what other opinions won't you hear at this fine so-called place of "learning"?

Now that's a question I bet that President won't answer.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

2014-09-22 13:02 by Karl Denninger
in Other Voices , 322 references

This cost me a keyboard.

Placing your iPhone in the microwave will destroy the phone, and possibly the microwave.

While that might seem obvious to some people, others have fallen for the “Wave” hoax making its way around online. The fake advertisement insists that the new iOS 8 allows users to charge their iPhones by placing them in a “household microwave for a minute and a half.”

This is more of a statement on the IQ of the average Apple customer than anything else, and it's rather, well.... 

You figure it out; this is IMHO in the category of "do not hit head with hammer." smiley

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)


The practice increases revenue for physicians and other health care workers at a time when insurers are cutting down reimbursement for many services. The surprise charges can be especially significant because, as in Mr. Drier’s case, they may involve out-of-network providers who bill 20 to 40 times the usual local rates and often collect the full amount, or a substantial portion.

20 to 40 times the usual and customary local rates?

Who authorized that?  Nobody!

So what is it when you're basically flat on your ass unable to consent and someone rams you for 20 times the usual price?

How is that not a violation -- a felony violation at that -- of general consumer protection statutes, and that's being kind?

“This has gotten really bad, and it’s wrong,” said James J. Donelon, the Republican insurance commissioner of Louisiana. “But when you try to address it as a policy maker, you run into a hornet’s nest of financial interests.”

How about this?  We start locking people up for this crap and take their Porsche and Mansion and sell it off, along with their yacht and vacation home?

"But they're doctors!" will be the refrain.  No, they're thieves and extortionists, and they, along with everyone that enables this crap, from the hospital administrators on down, ought to be in prison with them.

You want to know why you need "medical insurance"?  That's the reason.  This is a manufactured racket that were there to be any sort of abiding of the law would not exist.  There is an entire industry that only exists because of these ripoffs and the amount of money involved is immense; over $2 trillion a year is spent on medical care and a huge part of it is stolen or extorted through these schemes.

Patricia Kaufman’s bills after a recent back operation at a Long Island hospital were rife with such charges, said her husband, Alan, who spent days sorting them out. Two plastic surgeons billed more than $250,000 to sew up the incision, a task done by a resident during previous operations for Ms. Kaufman’s chronic neurological condition.

$250,000 to sew someone up?  Really?

How does anyone make the argument that this entire system isn't an extortion racket from top to bottom when the listed sort of prices in this article show up?  $115,000 for a $6,000 procedure?  $18,000 for $700 worth of work?

“You can cut fees, but institutions find ways” to make the money back, he said. “There’s been a mushrooming industry of mandatory consultants for services that neither doctors nor patients want.”

C'mon folks -- that sort of thing is organized and by any reasonable definition it's Racketeering.

This isn't something to "push back" against, it's something to prosecute and throw all of these *******s in prison, hitting them with both the statutory maximum fines and treble damages, starting with the hospital administrators and physicians doing it.


View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Main Navigation
Full-Text Search & Archives
Archive Access
Get Adobe Flash player
Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions.


The author may have a position in any company or security mentioned herein. Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility.

Market charts, when present, used with permission of TD Ameritrade/ThinkOrSwim Inc. Neither TD Ameritrade or ThinkOrSwim have reviewed, approved or disapproved any content herein.

The Market Ticker content may be reproduced or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media or for commercial use.

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.