keeping the economy honest

Category Archives: Economy

Sexy Stats


The right way to be a dictator!

The King of Saudi Arabia just announced $36bn of  benefits for his people  in the face of  Arab uprising spreading. Ok, that’s someone who knows how to be a dictator… excuse me, I mean “monarch” since they’re our friends.  King Abdullah’s package gives 18m lower and middle-income Saudi’s new unemployment benefits, education,  housing subsidies, and debt write-offs.  This is what I call dictatorship by bribery.  If you’re cash rich, you can afford to throw a bone to the underclass while still taking most of the pie.  Generally, people can take a lot of injustice and unfairness before they start doing something about it.  It’s only when they’re so desperate and at their wits’ end with no hope for better future do they start to riot and overthrow you.  So the strategy is to keep them just below the desperation line… read more

Custom made garbage can for you!

Do you find it frustrating that when you pull the garbage bag out of the can, it’s still half empty?  In my case, the bag is too big for the can.  I’ve been living with the garbage can/bag mismatch problem  for a while.  Back in school, I was too cheap to buy real garbag bags, so I use the grocery store bags which are too small for most cans.  But  it doesn’t stay on the can for very long, especially after you throw some garbage of substance into it, the bag would just fall in the can with the garbage.

Now, my wife buys high quality bags with nice integrated ties.  So I like to get the most use out of them.  I take it out and lean the half empty bag against the can on the outside, so I can put a big more garbage into it before I throw it out.  But my wife doesn’t like a open ended bag slouching against the garbage can.  I agree with her, I almost had a garbage avanlanch a couple of times when it didn’t lean right.  So after throwing out many under-utilized garbag bags out, I finally decided to make my own garbage can out of wood.

I think it looks pretty good.  And for those people like Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, who paid $1,200 for a wastebasket and enjoys my handmade, custom designed and cherry wood waste can, you can contact me for a special discount through this blog.  And for those people who can’t afford my high quality garbage can, they should really sell garbage cans with garbage bags together, so they will match.  Or they should standardize the size, like they do with beds.

HOV lane doesn’t work

HOV is misuse of resources in my opinion. Many times, the HOV lane is empty or sparse, when the other two lanes are congested or much slower.  I understand HOV has a good intention in trying to encourage carpool.  But saving gas is by far the dominating reason for people to carpool.  If two people find it convenient for them to go to work together, then they probably would carpool  to save on gas.  If it’s not convenient,  like one person might not be reliable with time or they don’t want feel obligated to talk to the other person,  then  they probably wouldn’t carpool even if it means spending more on gas.

But no two people who like to enjoy the morning commute alone would carpool because they get to use the HOV lane so they can get to work a little earlier.  So exclusive use of the HOV lane  is not going to push the decision to the other side, when gas saving is not incentive enough.  So in reality, HOV doesn’t reduce the number of cars on the road, it just rearranges them, so a few cars get to go faster who would carpool anyway without HOV, but most cars are forced to go slower with a lower MPG.  That’s worse for the environment.

Regis is not happy with less than $18-$20 million per year

Apparently Regis quit because he’s not happy when offered less salary for his new contract.  The show’s producers offered lower salary due to lower ratings.  Ok, even if the show didn’t get lower ratings, the network should have negotiated the salary long time ago.  I’m sure they can find some quality host who can do the job for half of Regis’s salary.  You’re probably thinking that Regis is the star of the show and no one can replace him to the same extent.  I agree, granted, a lot of people watch the show for Regis and if they brought in another host, the show will probably have a lower rating.

Let’s say, the new guy is happy to work for $5 million a year and the show had 25% less rating.  But the $13-$15 million savings is straight network’s profit and probably will compensate more than enough the lost advertising revenues.  Or the network can keep the same profit and pass on the  $13-$15 million savings to the advertisers.  That’s probably a great deal for the adverstsers.  I don’t think 25% more rating will necessarily translate to more than $13-$15 millions more in business for the advertisers which is how much they have to spend for 25% higher rating.

Anyway, all these numbers are made up and have no basis in any inside knowledge of TV show production.  But my point is that this is how free market is supposed to work and free market should decide the fair compensation of the TV show host, but is not fully tested out.  It’s like the chef in the chinese restaurant can never make too much more than his worth because the owner will replace the chef faster than chinese fast food if the chef starts to demand excessive compensation.  But it’s much easier to exercise free market in small business, on a smaller scale, and to test out competition.