Saturday, November 23, 2013

Economics Lessons at Lenscrafters

Somehow, got suckered into paying $500 for glasses (gee I saved 40% off the list price of $850) when you can get pretty much the same pair online for $170 from Warby Parker free shipping free returns. Mostly put up with it because stupid regulations required me to go to Lenscrafters to get a new prescription every year to order online even though my eyes haven't changed in 20 years, and the fact that Vassar has excellent vision insurance, which eliminates my incentives to shop around.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Monopoly power and the limits of arbitrage
  2. The costs of government regulation
  3. The Moral Hazard from having insurance

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Presidents are all the same: presidential lying edition

NPR's On the Media this week had a nice sequence of stories detailing the lies of the Obama administration and Obama himself, in terms of selling its Obamacare, as well as justifying NSA activities. It also goes on and details the administration's continuing war against reporters, and a follow up on its continuing coverage of the unprecedented secrecy of this administration.

I personally don't have strong opinions on the rightness or wrongness of any of these policies except that it supports my long time contention that presidential policies tend to be the same, determined more by institutions and situation and the median voter theorem rather than dispositional differences. People that call Bush the evilest president in history should acknowledge that Obama's polcies are largely similar.

One might say that the deception to sell the Iraq war was bigger somehow, (bigness is a relative and subjective measure of course) but I would say that pushing a healthcare overhaul is arguably one of the biggest domestic policy shifts in half a century, and the expansion of NSA powers is an unprecedented shift in expectations of privacy.