You are browsing the archive for 2013 March 26.

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Why Are Stores Charging Customers to Browse?

March 26, 2013 in Blogs

By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon



 

In case you needed another reason to just stay home and order everything off the Internet – how about two news reports in one day of retailers charging customers merely to come in and browse?

Over the weekend, sharp-eyed posters on Reddit pointed out a sign in the window of the Australian gluten-free grocer Celiac Supplies warning that “As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for ‘just looking.’ The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.” No mention, by the way, of a refund if a customer leaves empty-handed.

Meanwhile, over in China, overrated bridal gown designer Vera Wang has celebrated the opening of her new wedding boutique by announcing that “every potential customer at the Shanghai store will be charged 3,000 yuan ($482) simply to try on the gowns for sale.”Shoppers have also been scolded that they should give the store “several weeks” to get an appointment, when they will then be allotted just 90 minutes to try on clothes. Seriously, shoppers, it’s called eBay, and you can ogle all day long for free there.

Of course, it’s not that simple. What those unlikely comrades Celiac Supplies and Vera Wang both know is that despite the ease of online shopping, humans still enjoy the experience of in-person shopping. Retailers understand the social and sensual aspects of shopping. Our senses enjoy a deluge of colors and scents – which is why the produce is the first thing that hits you when you walk in a supermarket. They know the fuzzy sweaters need to go right where you can see them when you walk in too, so you can fondle them. As University of Alberta professor Kyle Murray once explained, “The physical space of a store, and the situation people find themselves in as consumers, has a very strong impact on what people buy.”

But trying on a dress or shaking a box of gluten-free biscuits doesn’t always lead to full shopping consummation. As Consumerist points out, vendors are increasingly concerned with the practice of “showrooming” — scoping an item in a store and then ordering it more …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Mainstream Economics

March 26, 2013 in Economics

By Christopher Westley

This new paper from Economic Inquiry provides a new meaning to Harry Truman’s famous desire for a one-armed economist:

ATTEMA, A. E., BROUWER, W. B.F. and VAN EXEL, J. (2013), YOUR RIGHT ARM FOR A PUBLICATION IN AER?. Economic Inquiry. doi: 10.1111/ecin.12013

Abstract:

The time tradeoff (TTO) method is popular in medical decision making for valuing health states. We use it to elicit economists’ preferences for publishing in top economic journals and for living without limbs. The economists value journal publications highly and have a clear preference among them,, with the American Economic Review (AER) the most preferred. Their responses imply they would sacrifice more than half a thumb for an AER publication. These TTO results are consistent with ranking and willingness to pay results, and indicate that journal preferences are not entirely determined by impact factors or by expectations of a salary increase following a publication in a prestigious journal. (JEL A10, B41, I10)

…read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Most Important Question about Human History

March 26, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

According to Gary North, it is: why did economic growth compound, starting in the 1800s? There is no definitive answer yet. But North thinks Deirdre McCloskey is on the right track by looking to the 17th century Dutch for the root cause.

The Lou Church Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Lou Church Foundation, presented at the Austrian Economics Research Conference. Recorded 21 March 2013 at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Includes an introduction by Joseph T. Salerno.

…read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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A Bad Week for Drone Lovers

March 26, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza gave his most recent “Worst Week in Washington Award” to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., whose assault weapons ban got stripped from a Democratic gun control package last Tuesday for lack of support. Fair enough, but if nonhumanoids can be eligible for the award (and why discriminate?), I’d say that drones had the “worst week in Washington” last week.

On Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, members from both sides of the aisle seemed genuinely disturbed by the idea of “government drones buzzing overhead monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens,” as Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, put it. When one of the witnesses, an industry lobbyist, complained that the very term “drone” had unfairly “hostile connotations,” he ran into a buzzsaw courtesy of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who snapped, “We’ll decide what we’ll call them.”

On Friday, it was more bad news for friends of our robot friends. In ACLU v. CIA, the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit forcefully rebuked the Obama administration for stonewalling on an ACLU request, under the Freedom of Information Act, for records related to targeted killing with unmanned aerial vehicles. Given administration officials’ repeated public comments on the CIA’s drone program, the agency’s refusal even to confirm or deny the existence of responsive documents was “neither logical nor plausible,” the court said.

We’re starting to see pushback from the courts and Congress on the use of flying, spying robot weapons at home and abroad.”

In the wake of the 13-hour filibuster of March 6 by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — in which he used the word “drone” some 245 times — we’re starting to see pushback from the courts and Congress on the use of flying, spying robot weapons at home and abroad.

In an influential 2011 article, “The Drone as Privacy Catalyst,” law professor Ryan Calo predicted that the dystopian images that drones evoke could spur much-needed reforms to American privacy law. Their association with military spying and targeted killing, the way they “represent the cold, technological embodiment of observation,” would provide the “visceral jolt” that reformers need to make their case.

That’s certainly happening on the home front. CNET’s Declan McCullagh reports that a bipartisan “anti-drone revolt” has prompted the introduction of new federal and state legislation restricting “law enforcement plans to fly more drones equipped with high-tech gear that can be used to conduct …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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The Journal Led Astray by Same-Sex Marriage

March 26, 2013 in Economics

By Roger Pilon

Roger Pilon

The Wall Street Journal ran a long and thoughtful but fundamentally mistaken editorial today urging the Supreme Court not to pre-empt the evolving cultural debate over same-sex marriage once it hears oral argument on the issue over the next two days. Stepping back from most of the more technical issues before the Court, the editorial sets its focus from the start by saying that the two cases before the Court, Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor, “are less about the institution of marriage than the sanctity of democratic institutions and the proper role of the courts.” And it concludes:

The Supreme Court does not have a good record legislating cultural change. A ruling on behalf of same-sex marriage could enshrine Hollingsworth and Windsor with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 abortion decision that imposed a judicial diktat even as laws in many states were liberalizing.

That is certainly true of Roe, and for good reason. But those reasons clearly distinguish Roe from the cases now before the Court. In fact, if politics is the issue, a far better analogy with the present cases is the Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which found Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, and those of 15 other states, unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. There, too, we had a controversial decision, handed down at the height of our civil-rights strife. But it did not lead to the unending controversy that has followed Roe, even though it was the Court, not state legislatures, that finally brought an end to laws banning inter-racial marriage.

One reason that Loving did not play out as has Roe is because the nation was more clearly moving in the direction of accepting interracial marriage than abortion, much as today we see a similar movement regarding same-sex marriage. Ironically, in invoking political considerations by way of urging “judicial restraint,” the Journal is asking the Court to consider matters that are not, strictly speaking, the proper business of the courts.

The Wall Street Journal gets its equal protection analysis exactly backwards.”

But there are also clear substantive differences between today’s cases and Roe, which go even further to making Loving a far better analogy. In particular, as in Griswold (1965), upholding the right to sell and use contraceptives, and Lawrence (2003), upholding the right to engage in homosexual sodomy, the statute under challenge in Loving, like that in Hollingsworth, had nothing to do with protecting anyone’s rights. Enacted under the state’s police power, it sought simply to protect “morals” …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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How Government Steals Your Savings

March 26, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

There has been global outrage about the proposal from the Cyprus government to have a significant one-time tax on those who have deposits in Cypriot banks. It has been correctly called a theft of private capital. What many fail to realize is that from the beginning, governments have been engaged in this type of theft, including the U.S. government.

As the debt crisis deepens, governments are likely to increasingly engage in various forms of capital expropriation despite the fact that such activities are economically destructive and morally offensive. The U.S. government is now doing precisely what the Cypriot government is proposing, but only with a lighter and more subtle touch. If you have a savings account, a CD or money market fund, there is a good chance that you are receiving less than 1 percent interest on the money, thanks to the Federal Reserve, while government-caused inflation is running at roughly 2 percent. Thus, you are, in effect, suffering a 1 percent expropriation of your savings each year — without Congress ever having voted for such expropriation. It gets worse. The Internal Revenue Service taxes you on all the interest you receive as income, even though what you are actually receiving is only a partial return of your capital investment.

The IRS also taxes capital gains that are nothing more than changes in the price level owing to government-caused inflation. Again, this is a non-legislated expropriation of capital. The IRS does index income-tax brackets, Social Security payments and other entitlements for inflation, so it clearly recognizes that the current dollar does not have the same purchasing power as a dollar saved years ago — yet it taxes the inflationary portion of the gain as if it were income, which it is clearly not. Such activities undermine capital formation and, hence, economic growth, job creation, the rule of law and civil society. I often wonder if Treasury and IRS officials who impose such rules, which again are not required by the tax law, are economically ignorant, or mean-spirited and amoral.

As the debt crisis deepens, governments are likely to increasingly engage in various forms of capital expropriation despite the fact that such activities are economically destructive and morally offensive.”

There are a number of actions governments take to expropriate capital without explicitly saying so. Some on the left have asserted that IRA accounts are “unfair” because they …read more
Source: OP-EDS