Category Archives: Economics

Anti-trust: Bust ’em up, or?

Clearly Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and a few others are too big, too market expansive, too monopolistic. Apple less so, but the argument would still hold for them.

Those first three are market behemoths with the power and capital to quash any competition — primarily through acquisition. Don’t like that company competing with your searches, online shopping or online ad market? Buy them up.

That’s how monopolies become monopolies. Price fixing (like Apple and Uber) or price gouging, (like Amazon and Microsoft) which drives out competition (or shrinks the competition down so that they become easy acquisition targets), are all tactics to build monopolies.

The Big Three will get disassembled here in the next few years, no doubt about it. The DOJ, once the IBI* in Chief is out of the picture, will get back on track working for the U.S. Citizens.

But what about eliminating the problem created by such companies in the first place?

The below linked Senate Bill tries to do just that. But I wonder if there’s a simple rule that could be put in place that would kill the M&A practice like the evil corporate consolidation game that it is.

What if we use the market capitalization of any company as a filter to determine which companies can buy other companies?

Surely a $Trillion dollar company like Apple has so much cash they could buy nearly any other company they coveted. Apple Buys Uber and then becomes a massive captive distributed transportation monster. Obviously, we’d want to stop that.

So, at what size does a company become too big to allow it to swallow up competition (or expand sideways like Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods)?

Here’s a simple concept to limit monopolies:
A company that sits at the 90th percentile or higher of market capitalization as ranked on the S&P500 — is banned from ANY and ALL acquisitions.

Right now that would take the top 50 companies out of the possibility of buying other companies. Right now that’s a market cap of about $100B. As this is a percentage, it wouldn’t matter how big or small the actual market cap would be. A simple rule that would severely limit monopoly creation (It might be that the 80th percentile would be better, but you get the point.)

Here’s that senate bill:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1812/text?r=22

And here’s the list of FINDINGS that were listed in that bill:

(1) competitive markets are critical to ensuring opportunity for all people in the United States;

(2) when companies compete, businesses offer the highest quality and choice of goods for the lowest possible prices to consumers and other businesses;

(3) competition fosters small business growth, reduces economic inequality, and spurs innovation;

(4) concentration that leads to market power and anticompetitive conduct makes it more difficult for people in the United States to start their own businesses, depresses wages, and increases economic inequality;

(5) undue market concentration also contributes to the consolidation of political power, undermining the health of democracy in the United States;

(6) the anticompetitive effects of market power created by concentration include higher prices, lower quality, significantly less choice, reduced innovation, foreclosure of competitors, increased entry barriers, and monopsony power;

(7) monopsony power— (monopsony means only a single BUYER is available)

(A) allows a firm to force suppliers of goods or services to cut their prices to unreasonably low levels, resulting in reduced business opportunities for suppliers and reduced availability and quality of products and services for consumers; and

(B) can result in workers being forced to accept unreasonably low wages;

(8) horizontal consolidation, vertical consolidation, and conglomerate mergers all have potential to cause anticompetitive harm;

(9) unprecedented consolidation is reducing competition and threatens to place the American dream further out of reach for many consumers in the United States;

(10) since 2008, firms in the United States have engaged in over $10,000,000,000,000 in mergers and acquisitions;

(11) between 2010 and 2015, there was a 50-percent increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice;

* Incoherent Bloviating Imbecile

 


I give you ONE wish

Here are the rules:

You get one wish.

It will come true the moment you utter the sealing spell “that is my wish.”

It must be specific, that is, enactable by an omnipotent being (me). Meaning, it cannot be vague, “I wish for world peace.” (What would that mean? And how would any omniscient, omnipotent being apply that to the Universe?)

It can apply to any era in the history of the Universe; to any aspect of existence, any land, sea, creature, peoples or culture.

Go.

For thought fodder here are a few that you might consider. If multiple folks pick similar wishes then I’m sure they will eventually come true. (OK, this might not be possible, but, hey, we’re all living in a material, I mean, virtual world, right?)

  1. I wish that the physics of matter made it impossible for life to evolve.
  2. I wish that altruism balanced aggression in the natural order.
  3. I wish all planets that could harbor life, did harbor life.
  4. I wish that humanity was not alone in the universe and that we would discover this tomorrow.
  5. I wish that telekinetic power was possible.
  6. I wish unicorns existed today.
  7. And elves, flying dragons, 2nd law of thermodynamics defying physics existed too.

 

 


Here come the choppers

When you hear the sound of a helicopter(s), what do you think?

• “Oh, it must be a Life-Flight, or the Coast Guard out saving someone, hurry, hurry!”
Or
• “It’s the authorities come to spy/harass/nab me or someone I know.”
Or
• Nothing, you never hear helicopters or if you do you don’t even wonder about why they’re circling your home, neighborhood, town.

Helicopters are the ultimate urban assault vehicle. They can spy, (now from great distance), travel quickly without worry of terrain, and carry agents who can be dropped to carry out clandestine, “official” business.

When I hear them I immediately think “GO AWAY! You’re noisy, arrogant, and invasive.”

I wonder what most folks thing about the sounds of choppers? Apocalypse Now? The Flight of the Valkyries? FBI, regional police departments? Or the military (domestic or, yikes, foreign)?

Are we trained through media (movies and television) to worry when helicopters start flying? I wonder if there’s an economic threshold. The wealthier you are, the more you think helicopters are here to rescue you (or protect you) and the poorer you are…

 


Oligarchs are evolution

While watching a In a Nutshell episode (below), I extrapolated the concept that intelligent life consumes all of a planet’s resources. It’s like a machine that eats until everything it can eat — gets consumed. But, the oligarchs know this, and plan for lifeboats which are escape pods shot from a planet’s surface out to the solar system to create, and control, life there.

Oligarchs rule a planet’s resources. They can control what gets built, what gets sequestered, what gets jettisoned. What if folks like Elon Musk are actually aware of this and are planning for humanity’s demise. Not their demise. They will survive. They will rule New Earth. They will control the AIs and robots that create the food and build the starships.

What if humanity actually IS evolving, but not genetically, but financially. In the end, if an apocalypse does not kill off all of humankind, then the only folks who will survive the coming resource collapse, will be the rich.


The Content Economy: update

In the spirit of full disclosure the following sites/services were found which may or may not apply to this concept of the Content Economy.

Some strange ones:

Wikipedia has a minimalistic post on the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micropayment

Unfortunately, none of these so called micropayment solutions address the situation in a way that makes sense; which is, to allow content economy participants to both earn and spend from the same account. These solutions get close. But they miss the one massive, all important piece of the puzzle: content consumers are contributors too.

We’re all creator/consumers.

Any real solution should all have a single account into which payments can accrue. And from which payments can be distributed.

REF: https://anonymole.wordpress.com/2017/12/05/the-content-economy/

Additional article on the topic, but one that uses blockchain technology (something I don’t see as being necessary for the Content Economy to flourish):
https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/08/11/blockchain-makes-online-content-economy-fair-transparent


The Content Economy

If you’ve only just joined us, let me bring you up to speed on my vision of the “Content Economy.”

The Content Economy will be a system of monetary exchange made through micro-payments. But not that micro. A penny or pence or whatever 1/100th of a euro or yuan is.

You will have your content account which you can top-off with $ or, if you’re good at creating content, said account will be your repository for the oodles of AddCents clicks that you will receive.

AddCents is the concept I came up with years ago that I wanted Google to build. Imagine seeing a little G$ next to an article or youtube video. You read or watch — enjoy the content SO MUCH that you want to pay the creator directly — so you click the AddCents button. Ding! A transfer from your account to the creator’s account. (Kind of the opposite of Google’s current adsense.)

Anyway, the idea seems sound. But, Google refused it. And, recently, so did Medium (instead they implemented that silly clap meme). So, what about other, hint hint, content platforms?

If you had a WordPress account that you deposited, oh, $25 into and then instead of clicking that contentious “Like” button you clicked these instead:

AddCents

And you PAY the author of the content, whatever you think it is worth.

You can AddCents to articles, to posts, to comments!!!, to anything attached to a piece of content. But think of this. An author could offer their larger works, self-published novels vimeo or youtube videos, and build a page that hosted them. And then let content consumers pay them DIRECTLY!

Additionally, if you give a great review of a novel — why shouldn’t you be able to earn money for that too?

Effectively, this paradigm becomes a self serving, self propagating economy where everyone can pay for content or earn money for content. Everyone can participate in the Content Economy.

If you like this — send me a penny. (I wish!) Or petition WordPress to implement this concept.

Cite:
https://goo.gl/AuHKV1
https://goo.gl/PaEPKg
https://anonymole.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/google-addcents/

 


Calorie Commute Cost

What is your commute worth?

Don’t ask me. I work from home. My commute is about 10 feet. But, if I had to commute what would it be worth?

Why are we doing this? Primarily, I wanted to figure out what would be a reasonable value to charge to drive someone to and from work, say, if you had a fully automated vehicle and wanted to share it with everyone who could afford it – like Uber but without a driver. What could you charge? And, also, I wanted to know, if I have to get a on-site job, what would be the cost I’d have to add to my paycheck to take such a job.

Let’s start with a few numbers.

  • 20 miles to work site, 40 miles round trip.
  • 100 calories burned by the average human body walking one mile.
  • 500 calories that can be purchased (on average) for one dollar.
  • 40 mph average speed of a “commute” vehicle.
  • $40 dollars per hour cost equivalent lost while driving.

[Now, I know I’m mixing my metaphors here – human calories and vehicle speed – but I’m just looking for ballpark here. I could got with gas + maintenance + vehicle cost, but that would vary just as much.]

Energy:
It would take 4000 calories for a human to walk that far (round trip).
At 500 calories per dollar (see cite below) that’s 8 dollars round trip.
Time:
At 40 miles total at 40 miles per hour that would be $40 per day wasted in traffic.

So we have:

  • $8 * 250 days = $2,000 / year (energy)
  • $40 * 250 days = $10,000 / year in time (time)

If we double the dollars per calorie cost (more reasonable given today’s food costs) then the price per year for energy goes up twice to $16 / day or $4,000 / year. Just for energy.

At this point we have $14,000 per year cost to commute.

Now, the time would still be a factor in using a fully automated car, but the $16/hour cost to pay for the travel (energy + rent the vehicle) is really low. There is no way to rent a car out (and pay for fuel) at that price. And even twice that at $32/hour — during rush hour — would be inadequate — regardless of time considerations.

[What does Uber cost? Apparently about $2/mile which would push the cost up to $80/day to use Uber as a commute solution. Which oddly enough is pretty close to the $32 + $40 that we’d spend in travel+time. But sheesh, who wants to pay that?]

So, realistically, by NOT commuting, I’m saving between $14,000 and $18,000 per year.

How do you feel knowing your commute costs you over $15k per year? Imagine telling your boss that having to sit in that little beige cubicle, within shouting distance of her, costs you personally, fifteen thousand dollars a year! Bloody hell! Let me work from home!

What about the investment concept? If a fleet of automated vehicles could operate efficiently at a cost between about $30-$50/hour  then such a solution “could” possibly be an economic winner. ‘Course, you could try and ride the bus…

~~~

Cite: http://efficiencyiseverything.com/calorie-per-dollar-list/