The Future of the Internet and Economics

Sometimes on this blog, I like to take a step away from current events and talk about what is on my mind.

Economics is a growing discipline that seems to be invading all other disciplines. For example, the title of this blog comes from Public Choice Economics, which was a direct invasion into political science. At the same time, I have taken a class at George Mason University called the Economics of Religion. Both of these topics are of great interest to me along with many of the classic microeconomic problems we deal with everyday.

What is curious to me is how will the new social internet application be analyzed by Economics. Even though many Economists have blogs and are networking sites, we would imagine that it would take a while for Economists to get a full grasp on what is going on. One of the sub-disciplines I have always been interested in is the Economics of Dating and Relationships. All these sub-disciplines do is apply rational choice and methological individualism as a framework to analyze these certain areas. They also attempt to take models or simple laws of supply and demand and apply them to various things.

The internet is it’s own market. There are advertisements, spam, efficient ways to order stuff, and searches that will bring you to various producers you never knew existed. I mean the Economics of Spam would be a very interesting topic all in itself. I believe that 100% of the time the laws of supply and demand work, but if anything has ever brought doubt to my mind it is spam. Who buys stuff off of spam emails? After doing a quick search I found those guys over at Marginal Revolution have talked about it. But this proves my point the internet has revolutionized research and it will revolutionize Economics.

On a worse note, Economics has made a turn towards the math. I, in fact, could possibly be barred from being and economist due to my weakness in math (as I was rejected by the GMU Ph.d Program). With Economics’s turn towards math will that reinforce the view of the economist as a savior not as a person who studies how man acts? I, of course, believe we should move more towards the latter, but only time will tell.



Stop the Outsourcing… to robots?

First, this from

Robots are stealing American jobs. In a 76,000-square-foot zone of the 832,000-square-foot Zappos warehouse in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, 72 robotic “drive units” organize and deliver shelves of goods—from argyle socks to handbags. People remain in charge (for now), because it takes human dexterity to pack items into a box for shipping. But the bots still have plenty to do, picking up the slack on boring tasks like shifting inventory.

The droids roll at 3 miles an hour, navigating via barcodes stuck to the floor and commands from a central server. And they’re buff, able to lift half a ton.”

and from Reuters:

” A vending machine that bakes fresh pizza in minutes for a few euros has got Italian chefs in a whirl before it hits the streets in the coming weeks.

The bright-red “Let’s Pizza” machine uses infra-red rays and technology developed at the University of Bologna to knead flour and water into dough, spread it with tomato sauce and a choice of topping, and cook it — all in less than three minutes.”

We better get Obama on this! How could we ever keep inefficient human in place of these robots that do not even work for wages. And you thought outsourcing to lower wages was bad. Okay, enough joking around. It is time to wake up, people. Businesses using low cost robots to replace humans is a good thing in the long run. In the short-term there will be problems because of employees having to retrain. This is the natural progression of society. We become more and more efficient. If you do not believe me, get off your computer because it destroys jobs. Then go get a feathered pen made by hand, some parchment also made by hand and write me a letter. That way the jobs lost to computers and emails will not suffer.

Technology has made us wealthy and to be against outsourcing is to be against technology.


Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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Zoombak Personal GPS

The right to privacy has always been an issue and the use of technology can sometimes encroach upon that. This next product plays into my first law which, I need to work on the wording, but basically that people have the need to control everything. Now they can control their kids and anything else they want to track.

“A safety zone is a personalized virtual boundary around a location that you’ve chosen. When your car enters or leaves an active safety zone, you can be alerted via email and/or text message (your choice.) You can create up to 10 safety zones, all of which can be active simultaneously at any given time. Safety zones can be quickly and easily turned on and off via

Zoombak’s location history allows you to see where your car has traveled for the past hour, day or week. Your location history will be available for your review on for up to 7 days.”

Of course this could be used for perverse incentives like the paparazzi using it on celebrities vehicles and things. This is my favorite:

“Mike C. — Schenectady, NY USA

“I personally love this product. I did a lot of research and found this to be the best device out there. I use it all the time. It’s great for teenagers who are traveling or to update myself on my spouse who works all over the state. I highly recommend this product.”

AKA make sure my wife isn’t cheating. Do we see this as a problem? They are so small and compact anyone could put this on anyone and stalk them. Or is this a positive invention? I mean, I personally think that this is really good for your dog if it were to get lost.

The website is here.


Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Has Technology made Government more or less powerful?

If there is anything that has been constant in the last few hundred years, it is technology. These technologies have challenged us as a society. You have seen with the current MySpace comments that supposedly caused a girl to kill herself and the kid who just killed himself on live camera. But in the Macro level, has technology given us more freedom or more statism?

First, governments who are communists and censor their citizens are having a hard time doing so now with the internet’s presence. They are able to access information that they never could have 50 years ago. The more free ideas that they are exposed to, the more change they will demand.

Second, governments can use more technology to track people. They can gain access to your phone, internet, text messages, and other things with or without a warrant. They use cameras in public, like in Britain, to watch your every move. You are told, by the government, that these are ways to protect you. Some argue that if you weren’t doing anything wrong, then it wouldn’t matter.

This brings a new challenge to property rights and privacy. What policies can we implement to keep the government in check? Is the Constitution a good tool for this?

I believe that technology will always allow freedom to lead first. You cannot chase innovators with bureaucracy.


Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 9:17 pm  Comments (3)  
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To be against Free Trade is like being against technology…

Originally posted on Red Virginia:
When we saw the Ohio Primary come around for the Democrats there was a large movement for renegotiating NAFTA. It was believed that U.S. jobs were being shipped over seas and it was making us worse off. This was an important political move because Ohio, like Michigan is known to be full of factory union workers.

The idea of Protectionism is as about as old as nations. The very first bill that came through Congress was a tariff on imported goods. Many Conservatives do not know where they stand on Free Trade vs. Protectionism. John McCain claims to be a free trader but also claims to not understand Economics. Pat Buchanan is a Protectionist because he doesn’t understand Economics. It was Adam Smith, the father of Economics, that first believed without a doubt that trade is good.

This is a challenge that we as conservatives face with the current recession and the Democrat’s and some Republican’s move to Protectionism. If we allow a President to close the country off to trade, like we did in 1930 with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, we could find ourselves falling deeper into a recession. We are seeing an economic crisis that looks a lot like the Great Depression but what is saving us is the diversification of our industries due to global trade.

As Conservatives we should support free trade because it not only helps us but helps countries across the world. It allows African farmers to compete in a fair market, when food and growth is a matter of survival. It allows our farmers to train their children to be engineers, scientists, and other high skilled workers. Think of this as a household and as people become more rich they outsource other things so that they have more time to work on higher skilled things. We pay Chinese and Vietnamese to build and assemble the plastic CDs because we are the ones creating the new programs for computers and music that will be put on that CD. It is all about letting the area that can make the good more efficient do it efficiently without barriers. This also happens with technology just substitute Chinese and Vietnamese with GM, Honda, and Toyota and CDs with cars. Now the horse and buggy maker is going out of business. Do we need a tax on the car companies to save this job? I don’t think so.

Most Conservatives get bombarded with the question of “What about sweatshops and holding these poorer countries to the same labor standards we have?” The answer to this is you get paid for how efficient you are. Since most people in poor countries have very little education and experience they aren’t worth as much as a technician at Microsoft. If you were to require these businesses overseas to increase the wages at the factories, it would make the businesses hire less people. What happens to those people? They starve.

You don’t have to be pro-sweat shop. You are anti-starvation. People are working their because it brings them more income than if they were to work in something else (assuming other jobs exist. Eventually, they will do like what we did in the U.S. and lift themselves out of poverty. We had sweatshops and those workers where low skilled because they came from farms where tractors “put them out of a job.” As they raise their wages, it will then become more cost effective to send their kids to school and not into the workforce.

Until then to require them to have the same standards of labor that we have is unfair and will do nothing but allow some to starve. And remember to be against trade is like being against technology.


The Future of Internet-based Phones in Europe

It has always been the easiest and most powerful way to break a regulation by using technology. Since the political process is full of so much rent-seeking, it is very hard to get a politician that wants to deregulate. He would have to have some other powerful interest group who probably but may not have perverse incentives for the deregulation.

Technology is also good at finding ways to make certain things more efficient. I overheard a conservation today talking about the quickly changing way on how you registered for classes. First, you stood in line and once you got up there you would grab a card that would represent your seat in that class. Second, he claimed that you used the phone and today you use the computer. This saved a lot of time and hassle.

When it comes to the technology of phones and cellular phones it is still costly to make international phone calls, but things like Skype and Vonage have made this much easier. They use internet instead of phone lines to make calls. They bridged the technology phone gap. Of course, cell phone companies do not want you to be able to do that and this would eliminate their international market. This from International Herald Tribune:

“European Union regulators are looking into whether mobile phone operators who block customers from making inexpensive wireless calls over the Internet are breaking competition rules.

The European Commission, the EU antitrust authority, has sent questionnaires to phone companies asking what “tools” they use to “control, manage, block, slow down or otherwise restrict or filter” Internet-based voice calls.

Some mobile carriers have blocked services that use voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, which allows users to make calls over the Web. Companies may be seeking to stop customers from accessing applications, like eBay’s Skype, to defend voice revenue from the less expensive Internet services, Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner, the research company, said.”

Surprisingly, the European regulators are coming to the rescue of a industry that is efficiently beating another industry. Now I do not know all of the details of this and I do not know how the company is able to keep their customers from using these. I am just surprised the cell phone companies haven’t lobbied the EU to get these to be banned everywhere and the EU would go along with it.

We would expect without Europe meddling in the competitive market, some cell phone industry would come along and allow the users to access these services and then everyone would switch to this phone/internet industry. That would then force these companies to do the same.


Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 7:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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A New Presidential Voice

barack-obamaOver the past 50 years, Presidents have reached the American people through the most convenient and far-reaching mediums available. This began with radio broadcasting, later came television. Before long, Presidents were giving Saturday morning radio addresses, and occasionally a televised press conference.

It was only a matter of time before the Internet became part of the mix. In fact, the Internet has the potential to become the singular medium of communication. Recent Presidential candidate and now President-elect Barrack Obama is perhaps the greatest politician to employ the Internet to his advantage. Before the election, Obama amassed the greatest Internet following and information of any politician in American history. Just some figures include:

-4 times as many “MySpace” friends as rival John McCain

-3 million Facebook supporters

-10 million email addresses

-text-messaging as a means of informing supporters

As you might expect, most of the Internet usage lies within the age group of 18-29 year olds. This generation is the first Internet-boom generation, and Obama is expected to continue to capitalize on this.

So far, President Obama has established a website dedicated to the transition between the Bush and soon-to-be administrations. Many speculate this is to deal with the national Presidential approval rating. For those who haven’t heard, it’s at 16% (a historical low).

While the social-economic impacts of this innovation are debatable, this will obviously help Obama maintain a following by many of his closest supporters and provide Americans with an even more personal connection to the Presidency (even if it is simply an illusion). I have to applaud the Obama camp for this accomplishment. I see this working out favorably for the future administration, and I expect Internet usage to become a staple of future Presidents and candidates on the campaign trail.


Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hookers Go High Tech

Just like in every industry, if there is a problem, someone will fix it. As long as there will be profits to be made, entrepreneurs will do their thing. Hookers are no different. This from Aphrodite Projects:

One of the main concerns of contemporary urban sex workers, even in areas where prostitution is legal, is violence. Each sandal will have an audible alarm system, which emits a piercing noise to scare off attackers. The shoes are also outfitted with a built in GPS receiver and an emergency button that relays both the prostitute’s location and a silent alarm signal to public emergency services. Where there are problematic relations with law enforcement, i.e. most places, the shoes will relay the signal to sex workers’ rights groups, such as PONY in New York, COYOTE in Los Angeles, or SWEAT in South Africa.”

They really do not look like sandals.

The shoes come with video artwork that features pink roses, rock doves, the Cypriot landscape and other imagery related to Aphrodite. These videos can later be personalized by the wearer. A video overlay with a phone number, email address, and other customizable graphics is included for promotion. The shoe also has a speaker in the back of the heel, which plays audio tracks of environmental phenomena associated with Aphrodite: the sound of the ocean at Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s birthplace), the waterfall from the Baths of Aphrodite in Cyprus, the cooing of pigeons and other birds. Audio and visual media, such as new heel tones, will be downloaded from the Platforms website, in a similar manner to downloading cell phone ring tones”

There you go, hookers are safer with the use of technology! The rest is here.


McDonald’s help in energy crisis…

Many different types of alternative fuels are coming into the market. I have some experience with the business of McDonald’s and know that for years they have tried to use the used oil that they use as fuel. Some years companies would by the oil from McDonald’s and other years they would have to pay for someone to take it away. More news on this front comes from

“Police in Manila are looking to convert their patrol cars to run on a mixture of diesel and used cooking oil from McDonald’s, officials and the company said Tuesday.

With oil prices at crippling highs, the project would convert cars in the Makati financial district to run on a mix of 40 percent diesel and 60 percent cooking oil, its police chief Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz said.”

The rest of the story can be found here.


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Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Cost/Benefit of Space Exploration

Are government agencies such as NASA and the Air Force wasting money on space exploration and research? In dealing with my instructors and peers in the sciences, the debate concerning the benefit of space exploration is very popular. After discussing this topic recently, I must offer my opinion on the matter.

First of all, the exploration of space was originally justified as being for the simple purpose of scientific research….ok so government isn’t the greatest judge of what to spend money on but we’ll leave that one alone. Most of the US’s growth in space funding occurred during the cold war space race. Most people would agree that this was a simple case of competition spending with the Soviets. You could say this helped our image and credibility with other nations because our triumphs showed that our system worked better than the USSR’s. When the Soviet Union collapsed, NASA did recieve a significant decline in funding, so this argument is at least fairly credible.

What about now? Thanks to the mandates of the Bush Administration, NASA is establishing a long-range space exploration mission. I’m sure you’ve heard details of the program…the ISS finished by 2010, a moon base, and eventually astronauts on Mars. As of yet the initial estimates are that the space agancy will spend approximately $180 billion dollars. Wow.

NASA administrators are proud to admit it’s actually only 55% of the Apollo budget when adjusting for inflation. But still, we’re talking about $180 billion. So what will $180 billion buy us? Honestly, nothing for sure. It is impossible to predict what discoveries may come, and what technological advancements may follow. The first 4 major NASA programs can be credited for inventing a number of modern materials and devices, but could these have come cheaper? I think so.

Yet as a physicist it is natural for me to support scientific research if it is progressive and original. While I am sure that there will be significant discoveries to come from this new program, I am skeptical as to the timing and management of the operation (I say this because NASA has a long history of mistakes and screw-ups). To make a long story short, I support the scientific exploration of space, but am convinced that for-profit entities could do better.


Published in: on July 22, 2008 at 2:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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