Parking Price Elasticity in San Francisco

Prices affect parking less than San Francisco expected, in its ongoing SFPark experiment, fully implementing dynamic parking prices with target occupancy rates.  Apparently people are willing to pay quite a bit more to be right next to their destination, instead of even one block away.  Either that, or they don’t realize how much parking prices vary block by block.  Perhaps each of the parking kiosks should have a prominent street-facing display, readable by drivers, advertizing the price they charge per hour?

WalMart selling cheap dutch-style bikes

WalMart is selling cheap dutch-style bikes.  If you’re gonna sell cheap bikes, it makes a lot more sense to me for them to be simple and utilitarian (like the Flying Pigeon bikes of Tianjin), instead of double suspension 27 speed pieces of crap with lots of junk parts to break.  If the bike is simple, for the same price point it can be more reliable.  I hate WalMart, but I gotta say, I’m glad to see they’ve gotten on this particular bandwagon.

Nils Gilman and Deviant Globalization: The Graying of the Markets

We watched a Long Now talk last night by Nils Gilman, entitled Deviant Globalization.  I first ran across Gilman in a shorter talk from a couple of years ago about the global illicit economy — black markets.  He describes deviant globalization somewhat differently.  Trade can be perfectly legal, and still deviant.  He used the example of US men arranging trysts with 14 year old girls in Canada… which amazingly could still be considered legal until 2008, since 14 was the nationwide age of consent.  Sure, it was legal, but who really thought it was okay?  So deviant globalization represents a kind of moral arbitrage.  Demand exists for goods and services which are proscribed in different ways, to different degrees, in different places.  Sometimes they’re socially taboo, and sometimes they’re outlawed, but in all cases there exists a kind of moral disequilibrium gradient that can be exploited.

What united all these extralegal commodity flows […] was the unsanctioned circulation of goods and services that either because of the way they are produced or because of the way they are consumed violate someone’s ethical sensibilities.

One of his main points is that the steepness of that moral or regulatory gradient translates pretty directly into profit margins.  Cocaine increases in value by 1400% when you bring it across the US border.  This creates incredible incentives to get around the rules, even at great risk.  This is why Prohibition rarely works as a policy.  Any attempt at eradication financially empowers those who are willing to continue taking the risks you’re able to impose.

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