Amazon HQ in DC area: a rampart for the defense of monopoly

A: A monopolist’s most valuable asset is a government which tolerates its existence.

Q: Why is Amazon establishing a “second headquarters” in the high-cost suburbs of a city better known for bureaucracy and politics than for information technology, retailing, or logistics?

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Fast food ≠ low pay

Continuing the fast food theme (yum): BK in the USA vs. BK in Denmark, fast food work can provide living wages, if the institutional environment is right. Read the report by Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times.
The fast food restaraunt is an organizational technology designed to use low cost labor – a restaurant that can operate without any employee who knows how to cook! Continue reading

Impervious surface cover and the virtures of federalism


While we’re on taxes: several counties in Maryland (if your knowledge of American geography is limited, that’s Baltimore and The Wire) will now tax impervious surface cover. That’s rooftops, driveways, decks, etc. The contributions impervious surfaces make to urban heat islands, groundwater depletion, building subsidence, flooding, and water pollution are well understood (the wonkish may want to see Arnold & Gibbons, “Impervious surface coverage: The emergence of a key environmental indicator”). Taxing impervious surfaces is a simple and elegant solution, because there are very often simple, cheap, low-tech fixes (like replacing impervious surfaces with …. pervious ones!, or getting your rooftop exempted from the tax by collecting rainwater in a cistern for garden use): the tax provides an incentive for property owners to go fix these problems themselves.

Now, in honor of UKIP and of the general Brussels phobia that is sweeping Britain and much of the rest of Europe, here’s the connection between this wonderful tax, and federalism: Continue reading