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Ah, this is an interesting discussion and happens to point out one of the logical fallacies that often is brought up by various pundits.

So could we make marriages stronger by making it harder to exit? Keep people together who rush into divorce court instead of waiting out a temporary spell of unhappiness?

Maybe. But we should be cautious about assuming that this would definitely make marriage stronger. As with so many rule changes, it might have the opposite of the intended effect. To see why, consider European labor markets.

Megan goes on to talk about the laws passed in Europe that made it very hard to fire someone.  What they also did was make it very hard to get a job in the first place, since it would be very hard to fire you later.

This, Megan argues, is something to "consider" in the debate about making divorces harder to get -- because it may discourage people from getting married.

Unlike employment, however, what Megan fails to demonstrate is that this disincentive to get married in the first place would be undesirable.

It's pretty hard to argue that making employment more difficult to come by is a socially-desirable outcome.  But it's not hard at all to argue that raising the bar for entering marriages is in fact a social good!

Further, there is a second-order effect involved here that Megan ignores entirely -- the fact that by getting rid of or severely curtailing "no fault" divorces those people who really want to leave a marriage simply because "they don't love the other person any more" will wind up with a disproportionate share of the cost in splitting up the marriage.

Why is that, pray tell, bad?

Isn't the entire premise of marriage sold as a contract?  And isn't the premise of a contract that when you wish to break it unilaterally that there is some price associated that more-largely (or even exclusively!) falls on you?

Today that is clearly not the case.  And it is also clear that the divorce rate has risen.  What's not clear is necessarily causation between the two, but it's reasonable to infer there might be a connection there, yes?  I think so.

Where else do we see this sort of thing?  Everywhere!

College education and cost anyone?  It's expensive.  People can't afford to go.  But college is universally good, we're told, so we extend lots of loans and other gib-gab to make it possible for "everyone" to attend.

Is it universally good to go to college?  I don't know, but I suspect not.  What I do know is that we seem to have a shortage of people in skilled trades these days and it's damned hard to outsource plumbing or electrical work to India, isn't it?


And finally, I want to point out one other logical fallacy of Megan's, which is disturbing to me:

In short, the legal system of yesteryear didn’t have to worry that harsh divorce laws would discourage marriage entirely; any marriages that they did discourage probably shouldn’t have happened. But people would continue to get married, because there wasn’t any viable alternative for the majority of people who wanted to live on their own and raise a family without the neighbors talking -- or calling the vice squad. 

So what we have instead is a system where fully half or more of the people don't get to raise a family because after they have the kid(s) easy divorce means that one of them gets to make off with the kid(s) for the majority of the time and one also gets the majority of the bill -- and often those are different people.

That, people wish to argue, is a superior outcome?

I argue it is not.

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Come and get it; ~13 minutes in!

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Gee, am I supposed to be surprised by this?  smiley

Several states have recently implemented laws requiring the collection of sales tax on online purchases. In practice, however, only has been affected. We find that households living in these states reduce Amazon expenditures by 9.5%, implying an elasticity of –1.3. We find the effect to be more pronounced for large purchases, for which we estimate an elasticity of –3.2.

So essentially 10% of Amazon's business disappears where they have to collect sales tax, and large purchases are close to three times as negatively-impacted as smaller items!

Now who has been talking about this is going to be massively material to them as it rolls out nationally?  Uh, yep.


Source: Copyrighted NBER Working Paper Series, #20052

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An interesting case is being heard in the Supreme Court regarding the start-up "Aereo."

For those who are unaware of them they put up thousands of dime-sized antennas that can receive broadcast television stations.  You rent one of the antennas and the electronics necessary to turn the signal it receives into a digital stream that you can watch from anywhere.

Broadcasters and content providers sued them, arguing copyright infringement.

Uh, not so fast Kemosabe which is why this is at the US Supreme Court.

A broadcaster uses public airwaves and in exchange for their license to use a limited and public resource they are required to broadcast using specific standards and methods.  Note that this does not necessarily preclude using encryption; that depends on the specifics of the license.  For example, on HAM Radio bands (I'm a licensed HAM) it is illegal to use any form of code; your transmissions must not only meet certain technical requirements so as to avoid interference with other users on different frequencies but you must also use plain language with the only exception being for commonly-known shorthands (e.g. "CQ", "73", etc.)  On parts of the band where "digital" emissions are permitted you have to use a documented and publicly-known encoding so anyone who cares to can decode and understand your transmission (you can find me, W3KSD, lurking around on PSK31 once in a while; it's an interesting technology.)  But over-the-air encrypted signals are not new; when I was growing up we had a TV station that during the daytime broadcast an open and clear signal but at night it shifted to an encrypted one that required a box to decode and view.  In addition there are a number of other commercial bands for various radio services (think WiFi for just one example) where encryption is perfectly legal.

The problem the broadcasters have is that there is not "copying and redistribution" happening in the traditional sense.  It's legal to use a DVR on an over-the-air signal you receive as well as to use something like a Slingbox to watch the signal somewhere other than at your house; what the broadcasters are effectively trying to argue is that these devices are unlawful!

IMHO they should fail in that argument and thus their complaint against Aereo fails.  If I can do a thing legally then I can by extension pay an agent to assist me in doing the same thing; that's one of the fundamental realities of freedom and commerce whether the broadcasters like it or not.

It will be interesting to see how this case is decided and the logical path taken to that resolution; I'm especially interested in whether the Supremes torture the English language once again in trying to craft a contrived response.

IMHO the decision on this case is simple -- the underlying conduct, that of receiving an unencrypted broadcast in a given market -- is lawful and in fact exactly what was contemplated by both the broadcaster and the terms of their license to use the spectrum they occupy.

The fact that I pay an agent to install an antenna for me (by leasing same) for my singular, exclusive use during a given period of time doesn't change the essence of the underlying and lawful act.

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(CNN) -- The first sign something was off was when the ground crew at Kahului Airport in Maui noticed a boy wandering the tarmac, dazed and confused. The story he told officials was even more incredible.

He's lucky to be alive.  Besides the -50 temperatures there's damn little oxygen at 30,000' and there's no pressurization in the wheel well.

But -- he lived.

The real bottom line, however, is that if he had been a terrorist with a bomb on him the plane would be in pieces, everyone on board would be dead, and we'd be wringing our hands.


So why hasn't it happened since 9/11?

It's really simple and it has nothing to do with "security" or, rather, the lack thereof.

It's this: There simply aren't that many people willing to kill themselves in pursuit of terrorism.

Yes, there are a few.  But not very many.  We know this because security factually sucks; indeed you have a better set of odds of having the contents of your baggage stolen by TSA agents (some 400 have been fired for doing so in the last decade) than being blown up while on a plane.

So what was the TSA really about if it's not security?

That's easy: Keeping the airlines from having to face a jury in civil court in determination of whether their security policies were reasonable post-9/11, exposing them to potential bankruptcy had they been found responsible, in whole or part.

That's all it was really about -- period.  It was simply about not being held to open account for action or inaction just as the banks were not held to account after 2008 by exactly the same sort of government rescue.

In both cases you got, and continue to get bent over the table and screwed.

For all of this you get groped, your bags are riffled and sometimes their contents are stolen, you're treated like a criminal every time you set foot in an airport and we are no more safe today than we were on 9/10.

Why doesn't this change?  Because you won't demand that it does.  You won't demand that this crap stop and airlines be held to account if they screw up just like you didn't insist on the banks being held to account after 2008.

You instead want to and do cheer on the nanny state -- a nanny state that not only factually fails to prevent people from penetrating the so-called "secure" zones around airports but in addition is directly responsible for groping you, rape-scanning you and stealing your stuff.

All of this in fact begins and ends with you.

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