…In which we present a short roundup of posts from the holiday season on film subsidies, phone pricing, competition policy, and a couple on drinking.
Welcome to 2014, for those of you who, like me, spent the last few weeks in a bit of a holiday haze with a house full of kids and grandparents and consequently lost track entirely of what day of the week it might have happened to have been at any point.
The other authors at Dismal have been far more diligent in posting than I have been at editing. I’ll be posting a few of these posts over the coming week, so watch for the “Originally appeared at X on Y” tags in case dates otherwise don’t make sense. In the meantime, here are a few others that showed up on the feeds here syndicated over the break.
- Donal Curtin walked us through the economics and regulatory law around supermarket discount vouchers for petrol stations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the ACCC, looked at these recently and decided to ban them. Donal reckoned it a bit of a difficult call, but reckoned the ACCC got it wrong in banning them. Why? Read him to find out! Donal later explained why telecom prices in New Zealand still seem out of whack, and how the pattern of price discrimination suggests that UFB uptake might be less than we’d have hoped.
- Paul Walker provided a few posts on history of economic thought. He first highlighted Henry Simons’s early Chicago school views on the merits of anti-trust policy. Where Simons was a fan, the later Chicago school was more skeptical. He also discussed Paul Seabright’s criticisms of economics hinging on the “unrealism” of general equilibrium assumptions in microeconomics.
- Matt Nolan and I both reckoned the government erred in subsidising the film industry. Here’s Matt, highlighting Director’s Law (hint: movie directors are just a specific instance of the more general Director’s Law). I noted that Treasury’s comments on the subsidy plan were pretty spot on.
- I also critiqued a recent Alcohol Healthwatch report. Where reporting on the Healthwatch report suggested big increases in women’s drinking, their underlying data really didn’t suggest any such trend. There were a few problems in the main report as well. Finally, Alcohol Healthwatch’s Rebecca Williams was surprised by the latest MoH survey data showing substantial reductions in youth drinking. This shouldn’t have been a surprise – it’s in line with the other MoH data. My standard disclosure on alcohol applies.
- The latest Census didn’t provide a breakdown on the number of Jedi in New Zealand. So I asked them. And they told me. The Force remains about as strong with New Zealand as it was in 2006, though they’re now a smaller proportion of the population.
- Finally, I commented on a lovely NZ Herald editorial decrying the country’s growing Nanny State. Didn’t Key campaign against that in 2008?
Posts will start showing up again in the Dismal Science feed on a regular basis as I now again have an office. We packed up the open-plan shed the week of December 9th for a move over to the new offices in the law building. Friday, 13 December, the movers brought everything over to Laws. Monday, 16 December, the movers were to be bringing everything into our offices. And we were to move into our offices on Tuesday the 17th. When the project manager came round to our shed to tell us how things would work, she gave us every assurance that everything was in order for the move-in. We queried what would happen if we didn’t have the building use certificate; she suggested keeping critical things at home rather than moving them, in the very unlikely event that things went wrong. We were finally able to move into the new offices today. In the meantime, I’ve had a laptop with a non-functioning screen. I ordered a replacement before Christmas. I started trying to order it at the beginning of November, knowing that my laptop was near death. But the usual approval processes and seemingly mandatory internal rent-seeking required to ensure a satisfactory faculty experience meant that the order could not be placed until early December. And now nobody knows where that machine is. Maybe Dell tried delivering it over Christmas, maybe they didn’t. Nobody who knows the tracking number is available to give me the tracking number that I might check into it. The warehouse says they’ve not seen it.
But at least I again have screens into which to plug the screenless laptop. And so I can blog. Happy New Year!