Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Archive for March, 2010

Tokyo Sky Tree

These are pictures of the Tokyo Sky Tree, taken from my bedroom window on 1/2/2010 and this morning on 3/30/2010.

Yesterday the Sky Tree passed Tokyo Tower’s 333 m height and reached 338 m, becoming the tallest structure in Japan.

When completed it will be 634 meters high and be the tallest communications tower in the world.

(Click to see larger size.)



Mon-chan on swing

Mon-chan really loves the hanging rings. Today he-or-she started using them as a swing!

Polls turn in favor of new health care bill

Republicans who thought health care reform was going to be Obama’s Waterloo and are hoping to make repeal their big campaign issue in the fall are going to have to think twice. The Democrats designed it to front load with lots of positive features that people just aren’t going to want to give back once they give it some logical thought.

And opinion polls already show more people in favor of the new law than opposed:


Health care and socialism vs the “free market”

In the debate about health care and free markets vs socialism and all that, I have some thoughts to add.

I always think of complete free-market libertarianism with no regulations the same way I think of Newton’s 1st law.

Sure, an object will continue in motion at the same speed and in a straight line so long as there are no external forces applied to it. That is true in theory, just like a perfect free market might be true in theory.

But in physics, in day-to-day life there is friction acting on the object so it does slow down and stop.

I think that’s the same thing about the economy. As a society, we’ve decided to add all sorts of “friction,” in the form of rules and regulations, to the economy. Some for bureaucratic reasons I don’t understand. Others because as a society we deem the rule for the public good.

But all these rules inhibit free enterprise and have a negative effect on economic opportunity.

Some examples:

* Requiring a business license.
* Zoning laws.
* Safety regulations at the workplace.
* Requiring extra licenses and standards to run day care centers or nursing homes.
* Requiring licenses to practice medicine.
* Forbidding the running of a friendly neighborhood numbers racket.
* Outlawing the sale of some drugs and requiring doctors prescriptions for others.

The list goes on and on ad infinitum.

Some of those things we might even all agree are good rules, and a civil society depends on them.

But they all have a “friction” effect on the ideal “free economy.” That’s my theory anyway.

So in compensation for following these rules, we expect certain things in return, as part of our social contract. These include roads, police, a military and maybe yes, a post office and national health care running at a financial loss.

It seems it’s all on the table. And can all be decided on a case-by-case basis, just like the rules are. I don’t think we need to apply one overarching philosophical rule to deciding everything. I think the society we have created is all case-by-base. And everything else is just “in theory.”


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