Monday, August 18, 2003

In praise of price gauging.

Phoenix is in the middle of a gas crisis. Reminiscent of the 70's embargo, there are lines 20-30 cars deep at gases that have gas. Most stations don't even have gas.

The problem is a pipeline breaking down north of Tucson. The pipeline has been repaired, but we are waiting on the Feds to approve testing on the repairs. So currently the gas is being trucked in. Apparently there aren't enough trucks to fill everyone up.

Anyway, the prices have gone up to almost 2.15, even 2.50, a gallon. I am not psyched about paying such high prices, but the higher they go, the quicker the crisis will be over.

Of course the state officials have all said they will investigate and prosecute and price gauging. This is silly. Let the stations gauge and charge as much as they get. This will have the effect of bringing more gas to the market (suppliers in search of profit). And it will also curb peoples driving resulting in more gas available.

Bring on the gauging and end the gas crisis.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

The blackout has past, but the commentary on continues to flow. One of the main bits of comments floating around is this idea that the blackout was the result of deregulation. This really bugs me. There was no deregulation in the '65 or '77 blackout. It's not as if a fully regulated system is able to prevent such a massive blackout, so its really disingenous to claim that this blackout was a result of deregulation.

I think, one might make the argument that this shows that deregulation and privatization of the electric system is even more needed.

Let's remember that while there has been some deregulation, it is hardly a free-market system. The federal and state government still controls many if not most of the aspects of the generation and distribution of electricity.

The infrastructure of the power system has not been upgraded primarily because of the high cost and lack of investment in this part of the system. Why is it like that? Because this part of the system is, if I understand it correctly, still heavily regulated and the profit margin in this area is very small and so investers aren't willing to put their money there.

There is also a tragedy of the commons here with everyone wanting the upgrades, but no one thinks they should foot the full bill for it and everyone using the system and trying to get as much out of as possible.

In a free system, I think, black outs would less common because of more competition and more investment in infrastructure.

Check out this link for more information on the black out:
Reason Public Policy Institute: Blackout Resource Center

More information on privatization of the electric system:
Electricity Competition Center

Thursday, April 17, 2003

It is rather interesting to me that many of the top figures in the PLO are calling for Abbas's release. What is there motivation? What do they see they can gain from his release? What could they gain from asking that a known terrorist be given immunity?

The claim that Oslo legally gives Abbas immunity is a bit of a stretch. Read the Oslo Accords. The section dealing with immunity says this:

Palestinians from abroad whose entry into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is approved pursuant to this Agreement, and to whom the provisions of this Article are applicable, will not be prosecuted for offenses committed prior to September 13, 1993.

Abbas, I understand, was allowed to enter the West Bank a number of years ago. But who ever wrote those left it too open -- one of the many problems of documents between Israelis and Arabs.

But given that this is an accord between Israel and the PLO, it is a reasonable interpretation to think that the prosecuter in question here would be Israel. After all, it wouldn't be reasonable to think that some Palestinian who detectives just recently found to be responsible for a (non-terror related) murder in Romania in August 1993 couldn't be tried for his crime in Romania.

Certainly, Oslo says that Israel can't prosecute Abbas, but it doesn't say that Italy or the US can't. The fact that the US was a witness to the Oslo Accords is a rather weak legal basis for saying that the US must release Abbas.

Which brings me back to my original question. Why argue for this guys release on such flimsy legal reasoning?

I just finished reading Bernard Lewis' I'm Right, You're Wrong, Go To Hell from the May issue of The Atlantic. Interesting, but nothing really new, if you read his stuff. Very similar to his new book Crisis in Islam which, I think, was an expansion of an Atlantic article. These guy knows how to market his stuff!

But anyway, if you don't know his stuff, this is an interesting comparison of Christianity and Islam and their views of history and their interaction over that history--particularly in regards to issues of toleration.

I am not good at this blogging thing. I had hoped to become a regularly blogger and babble my thoughts into cyberspace, but I just haven't been able to do it. But I will keep trying!