Archive for October 2007

On the Off Chance You Missed this...

On the off-chance you have not seen this 20-lateral play by Trinity, here it is:

In American Football, the other ten players without the ball are taught to go downfield and throw a block.  However, if everyone does this, then a play like this becomes impossible, because no one is behind the ball carrier to receive a lateral.  I played rugby for years, and the training there is different.  You want to get behind the ball carrier diagonally to be ready to receive the ball.  This is what you see here -- watch for it.  Players are backpedaling to get in position.  I don't know if any of these players had rugby training -- I do know that a number of the Cal players in "the play" were also rugby players.

Anti-Trust is Anti-Consumer

Pursuing what has become a familiar theme on Coyote Blog, we again revisit anti-trust, and in the process, discover why the NY Times might be better off putting its editorial inanities back behind a firewall.

Writing about Intel, the NY Times editors say:

The abuse of market power to protect a monopoly hurts consumers and
hinders innovation "” locking out smaller rivals that may have better
products with new features or lower prices. With an 80 percent to 90
percent share of the microprocessor market, Intel wields much more
power than your local supermarket. Its threat to raise prices the
moment a customer tries to buy from rival A.M.D. can lock in even the
largest computer makers "” which depend on Intel for most of their
products and can't simply swap all their processors overnight. And with
such a level of control, Intel doesn't have to exert itself to come up
with new and better products.

Which I guess is why Lotus 1-2-3 must still have a hammerlock on the spreadsheet market, Creative must still dominate in MP3 players, IBM must still own the computer market, and GM must still rule the automotive roost.  How can any sentient human being who has lived through the past 20 years doubt that, particularly in technology, market dominance is as fleeting as the next technology cycle.   In fact, AMD several years ago made a huge penetration of the market with a series of processors a year or two ahead of Intel.  Most average consumers who can't even figure out how to attach a photo to an email never noticed, but among those who understood and cared, AMD ruled the roost.

Oh, and what was Intel's crime?

They say Intel is improperly protecting its stranglehold of the
microprocessor market by offering big discounts and rebates to computer
makers who minimize the use of processors made by rival Advanced Micro
Devices, and punishing those who stray with higher prices.

Oh my god, they are offering discounts to loyal customers!  Don Boudreax gets right to the heart of it:

Monopolists raise prices; firms facing competition do not.  Intel keeps its prices
low, meaning that it behaves competitively.  Yes, Intel's pricing
practices make life more difficult for AMD and other rivals, but that's
what competition is supposed to do.

The popular myth is that anti-trust policy is about protecting consumers.  Well, it may have been at one time or another, but currently it is all about protecting competitors who have political pull.  The Europeans are shameless about this, using anti-trust as a bludgeon to hamstring US companies who are out-competing EU home-grown competitors.  Now the NY Times wants to emulate this practice, explicitly calling on the government to force Intel to raise prices to make things easier for its competitors.

Update:  By the way, is there anyone out there who thinks Dell or H-P don't get the best possible pricing from Intel, with or without AMD purchases?  The coy little personal shopping example in the opening paragraph of the editorial is probably to help the reader forget that we are talking about Intel selling to customers who are big boys too.

Wow! Megan McArdle on Vouchers

I won't even bother to try to excerpt the post.  Just read it if you are interested in vouchers.  Or Education.  Or just read it anyway.

OK, I lied, one excerpt.  She is refuting anti-voucher arguments.  Here is #11:

11)  There's no way to assure the quality of private schools
Ha. Ha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Seriously? The problem with
private schools is that they can't match the same level of quality
we've come to expect from our urban public school system? And what else
have you learned in your visit to our planet?

Chanelling Milton Friedman

For years I have tried to find the right words to express my frustration with the notion that the problems encountered with government planning and technocratic meddling was merely the fault of having the wrong humans in charge, rather than of the system itself.  For example. I wrote:

Today, via Instapundit, comes this story about the GAO audit of the decision by the FDA to not allow the plan B morning after pill to be sold over the counter.
And, knock me over with a feather, it appears that the decision was
political, based on a conservative administration's opposition to
abortion.  And again the technocrats on the left are freaked.  Well,
what did you expect?  You applauded the Clinton FDA's politically
motivated ban on breast implants as a sop to NOW and the trial
lawyers.  In
establishing the FDA, it was you on the left that established the
principal, contradictory to the left's own stand on abortion, that the
government does indeed trump the individual on decision making for
their own body
  (other thoughts here).
Again we hear the lament that the game was great until these
conservative yahoos took over.  No, it wasn't.  It was unjust to scheme
to control other people's lives, and just plain stupid to expect that
the machinery of control you created would never fall into your
political enemy's hands.

Well, it turns out that Milton Friedman said it better decades ago.  Megan Mcardle reminded me of this passage from Free to Choose:

The error of believing that the behavior of the social organism can be
shaped at will is widespread. It is the fundamental error of most
so-called reformers. It explains why they so often feel that the fault
lies in the man, not the "system"; that the way to solve problems is to
"turn the rascals out" and put well-meaning people in charge. It
explains why their reforms, when ostensibly achieved, so often go

Remembering East Berlin, With a Thought about Health Care

I remember in about 1978 going on a bus tour into East Berlin through checkpoint Charlie.  It is hard to describe to my kids what a creepy experience this was.  The state-run tour was clearly run by the propaganda ministry, and they really pulled out all the stops to convince you that life was great in the East.  The interesting part is that all this propaganda failed miserably.  No matter what streets they took you down, you couldn't help but notice the stark contrast in prosperity between East and West.  East Berlin was full of buildings in 1978 that still had not been rebuilt from WWII bomb damage  (this actually might have been a plus, since much of West Berlin was rebuilt in that hideous 50's European public architecture).

The most amazing statement was when the tour guide bragged, "And over 70% of everyone in the city has running water."  It was just so clueless and pathetic, to be so out of touch that what Westerners considered a statistic indicating poverty was hailed as one they thought indicated wealth.

I was reminded of this story when I read the British NHS response to an article that over 70,000 Britons a year travel abroad for health care.  Their response was:

A Department of Health official said the number of patients seeking
treatment abroad was a tiny fraction of the 13 million treated on the
NHS each year.

Waiting times had fallen. Almost half of patients
were treated within 18 weeks of seeing a GP. Most people who had
hospital care did not contract infections.

I had exactly the same response as I did to the East Berlin tour guide.  Half within 18 weeks?!  That's PATHETIC.  Again, what we Americans know to be awful service is being bragged about as a sign of excellence. 

The really creepy part, though, is that America is the last place on Earth that people understand that a medical system can do much better than 18 weeks.  But we are likely to elect a President in the next election whose goal is to bring our system down to the level of the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, someday our grandkids may not know any better.

Giving to State Universities

A few weeks ago, I discussed how Ivy League schools came under fire from some leftist for not spending their endowments fast enough.  Obviously this guy has been a succesful adviser to Congress.

Anyway, one of the differences between private and state schools is not just that many private institutions get a lot more per alumnus giving.  Another big differentiator is how the money gets spent.  Here is a great example of private giving taking on the, uh, most critical challenges in public education.  Via Market Power.

When an Ivy League Degree is a Handicap

Megan McArdle writes:

Why is it so much fun to hate Ivy Leaguers? In part, because they
(well, we*) can often be so hateable. For years, I toyed with the idea
of offering a prize to the first Harvard grad I met who did not, in the
first ten minutes of conversation, manage to work that fact into the
conversation somehow.

OK, I have a couple of Ivy League degrees, so now I have fallen into the trap as well.  But I say that mainly to tell a story about running a small business.

Running a service business that is dispersed across many locations in 12 states, I cannot personally be on top of everything.  Not even close.  I depend on my employees taking the initiative to tell me when they think the company should be doing something differently or better.  However, many of my employees do not have college degrees at all.  This is not a problem for their job performance, as most have a lot of life experience and they do their jobs quite well.  Unfortunately, if or when they find out I have a Harvard B-School degree, the very likely outcome is that they stop making suggestions.  They make the assumption that because I have a more expensive piece of paper on my wall than they do, that I must know what I am doing.  They are embarrassed to try to give me suggestions.  Which is a crock.

I constantly have to hammer home two messages to my employees, both of which are hard to get people to believe despite the fact that they are true:

  1. Most of my employees do their job better than I would do their job.  They tend to assume they are somehow an imperfect proxy for me, when in fact, because their skills and interests are different, they usually do what they do better than if I focused on the same job myself
  2. If the company is doing something stupid, it is probably not because I want it that way.  It is probably because I am ignorant, either of the problem or of the better way to do it. 

Proposal For Those Empty Carpool Lanes

TJIC points to an article in the local Boston news that planners are shocked -- SHOCKED -- that the carpool lanes they spent tens of millions of dollar on are going unused.  I thought this was the best line:


I would never in a thousand years have guessed that people, -
if they have the means - prefer to commute to work on their own
schedules, in their own cars instead of in some sort of communitarian
Charlie Foxtrot where they have to coordinate schedules with their
neighbors, and have no flexibility to do errands on the way home, and
must welcome other people into their private domain.

And it's not just me - no one at all thought that people might
prefer privacy, individualism and freedom over enforced contact,
compromise, and obligation.

Quite a while ago, I made a counter-proposal for using the carpool lanes:

Several years ago, I sent in a proposal to the Arizona
Dept. of Transportation for their new HOV lanes in the Phoenix area,
though I never got a response back.  I suggested that HOV lanes
probably did not really increase carpooling, since they probably just
shifted vehicles that would have already been carrying 2+ people into
the faster lane.  Why should I get this artificial subsidy of a
dedicated lane when I am driving my kid to a soccer game but not when I
am driving myself to do productive work?  Either way, the lane is not
changing my behavior.

Anyway, I suggested that instead, AZ DOT should create a
number of special passes for exclusive use of the HOV lane.  The number
of passes should be set as the largest number that could be issued
while keeping the HOV lane moving at the speed limit at rush hour.
Maybe 5000?  Anyway, they would have the stats to set the number, and
it could be adjusted over time.  I proposed that they then auction off
these passes in a dutch auction once a year.  I posited that the
clearing price might be as high as $1000, thus raising $5,000,000 a
year that could be used for other transportation projects.

I have friends that said I was crazy, that no one would
spend $1000.  Back then, I argued it in two ways.  First, thousands of
people in town spend not $1000 but tens of thousands of dollars, in the
form of purchasing a nicer-than-basic-car, to make their driving
experience better.  In those terms, to the Mercedes or Lexus owner,
$1000 was nothing and in fact the price might go higher.  Second, if
each pass holder saved 15 minutes per commute, or 30 minutes per day
over 250 work days, they would save 125 hours of their time each year.
Bidding just $1000 for this would mean that people would have to value
their free time (since commuting generally comes out of free and family
time) at $8 an hour.  I certainly value my free time at a MUCH higher
rate than this.

Climate Video Release!

My first climate movie, What is Normal?  A Critique of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Theory is now available for free download.  If you have the bandwidth, I encourage you to download the full 640x480 version as Windows Media Video, but be forewarned that the file is 258MB.  This is actually a pretty small file for a 50+ minute movie, and the full resolution version looks much nicer than the streaming version.

Right-Click Here to Download Climate Movie in Full Resolution

Right-Click here for full resolution 144MB .mov quicktime version of Climate Movie

Make sure you turn up your volume -- I think I recorded this with a pretty low audio level.

If you are bandwidth-challenged, or you can't view a .WMV file, you may stream the video from Google video or download a reduced resolution version here.  Unfortunately, to make the video stream effectively, the resolution is cut to 320x240, but having watched it, it still looks surprisingly good streamed. 

Note, on the streaming version, the video stutters between the 12 and 17 second marks in the movie, but runs fine after that.  By the way, thanks to all the commenters who gave me some good alternatives to using my own fairly week narration voice.  I decided for this first release I wanted to see what I could achieve with a pure solo effort.  Many thanks to Adobe Premier Elements, which made this effort possible.

Finally, you can stream the reduced resolution Google video version below:


Startup Looking for Help

I know a gentleman named Alan Shapiro who has come up with what looks to me to be a nice new boat concept he calls the "Raptor".  Pictures of the boat are below (click on any picture for larger image)





I believe he also has a link to some YouTube video at his web site.  Update:  Here is the YouTube link.

He knows how to design and build the boat and has pretty good contacts for selling it, but needs help from a CFO/Strategist/business-type to push the company forward.  He has a prototype built and the production model fully costed-out and sourced.  However, he is about to look for a new round of financing and need help in that process.  He is offering equity in the company but can't pay a salary.  The job would not be full-time in the beginning.  If anyone has some time on their hands and has experience with startups and likes boating, this may be something to look into.  I have helped him a little bit, but I am out of time and need to focus on my own business.

I do not in any way warrant whether this is a good opportunity or not.  Don't assume that because Coyote seems like a smart guy, that this must be a viable business, because I just don't know.  I have given him a bit of startup money in exchange for some future boats, and a bit of advice, but that is the extent of it.   He has a draft business plan I am sure he would share with qualified candidates.

What I like about the product is that in the rental business, there really is a need for a personal watercraft or jetski that is enclosed, such that it will rent in colder waters and does not require renters to get out of their street clothes.  If you know what a mouse boat is, these are much higher performance versions of that type product.  He takes jetski engines, from 50-110HP, and puts them into this really fast hull shape.  This boat is fun to drive (see the video linked above) and my opinion is that it would rent well, but I of course have not been able to prove that with actual boats.  Alan believes there is also a strong market for individual sales, but I can't confirm or deny that from my own knowledge.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, email me at the link on the right with some information about yourself and I will pass it on to Alan.

Great Moments in Egalitarianism

Somewhere around 20BC in the Roman Empire, the emperor Augustus Caesar wanted to to promote a bit of egalitarianism in Rome, and hoped to curb some of the conspicuous consumption of the rich.  It turned out that the most conspicuous display of wealth was the freeing of slaves, usually in one's will.  Slaves were quite valuable, and freeing a large lot of them on one's death was considered a great way to flaunt how rich one had been in life.

So, in the name of egalitarianism, Augustus set strict limits on the number of slaves that could be freed at any one time.  Thus slavery was maintained in the name of egalitarianism.

Great Moments in Taxation

A few weeks ago, my wife's car was totaled when a guy in a large van fell asleep and slammed into her car when she was sitting at a red light.  Since he admitted culpability, his insurance company quickly came up with a settlement amount for the totaled car based on blue book values and such. 

Here is the interesting part -- since the insurance company is technically buying the wrecked hulk from us, Arizona treats the payoff as a taxable transaction, and charges its full automotive sales tax rate on the settlement.  It's incredible to me that having my car wrecked is considered by the state of Arizona to be a taxable event, and that the tax is owed in this case by the victim.  I am glad my house didn't burn down, the state might have bankrupted me!

This all seems odd to me, since if I had sued the driver to make us whole, rather than accepted the insurance settlement, any amount I won in court would not be taxable.  My guess (and hope) is that they are only taxing me on the scrap value of the hulk, not the entire transaction, but I have to do more checking.

Note before commenting that laws and rules on this are highly variable by state.

Video Release

Please check back Monday morning, as I will be releasing my new video, "What is Normal:  A Critique of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Theory."  As with my global warming book, which began as a ten page summary and ended up as an 85-page manuscript, the video started at a goal of 15 minutes and eventually ended up at 50 minutes.  However, unlike other global warming-related videos I will not name, it is all climate science, with no self-congratulatory segments on my childhood.

Warming and Drought

"It's hot in the desert, so therefor warmer temperatures must cause drought."  That is the logical fallacy I address today over at Climate Skeptic, where we find evidence that, if anything, global warming is making things wetter rather than drier.

Comments are Weirding Out

Not sure what is up with comment viewing.  Have sent service ticket to Typepad.

Immigration Thought of the Day

Frequent readers will know that I am a strong supporter of open immigration.  I don't disagree with McQ at Q&O when he writes "Open Borders or Welfare State: Pick One," but I don't think that this is the logic of most folks who are anti-immigration.  It may be their public stance, but if more folks really thought this way, there would be serious discussion of tiered citizenship or guest worker models similar to what I have proposed on several occasions.

However, I am tempted to become a close-the-border proponent if the left continue to use numbers skewed by immigration to justify expansions of taxation and the welfare state.  Whether they are illegal or not, whether they should be allowed to stay or not, the fact is that tens of millions of generally poor and unskilled immigrants have entered this country over the last several decades.  These folks dominate the lower quintile of wage earners in this country, and skew all of our traditional economic indicators downwards.  Median wages appear to be stagnating?  Of course the metric looks this way -- as wages have risen, 10 million new folks have been inserted at the bottom.  If you really want to know what the current median wage is on an apples to apples basis back to 1970, take the current reported median wage and count up about 10 million spots, and that should be the number -- and it will be much higher. 

Income distribution numbers are the same way.  I showed in a previous post how these numbers are deceptive, when we compare them to Europe, because though European poor have a higher percentage of the median wage in their country, it is a higher percentage of a lower number.  When you correct for that effect, the US poor look pretty equal.  But immigration exaggerates this effect even more.  Instead of having income distribution numbers comparing, say, a lawyer and a blue collar worker, they are now comparing a lawyer and a non-English-speaking recent unskilled immigrant.  Of course the disparity looks worse!

The folks using these numbers have to be smart enough to understand this issue, so it can only be hugely disingenuous that they simultaneously promote immigration (which I support) while at the same time using immigrant-skewed numbers to say that the average US worker is somehow worse off.  If they keep this tactic up, even I may be tempted to close the borders.

Hang in There

Maggie's Farm has a great series of pictures of a bear rescue from a high bridge.

We Just Don't Have Enough Taxes

I propose a survey.  We will ask 500 CEO's of large company's and 500 small business owners just one question

1.  Do you agree/disagree with the following statement:  In order to make my business more competitive in international markets, the federal government needs to raise taxes and expand its scope

How many out of the 1000 would answer "Agree?"  Well, at least the number won't be zero, as long as you ask the NY Times:

"¦the taxes collected last year by federal, state and local governments in the
United States amounted to 28.2 percent of gross domestic product. That
rate was one of the lowest among wealthy countries - about five
percentage points of GDP lower than Canada's, and more than eight
points lower than New Zealand's. "¦the meager tax take leaves the United
States ill prepared to compete. From universal health insurance to
decent unemployment insurance, other rich nations provide their
citizens benefits that the U.S. government simply cannot afford.
"¦revenue will prove too low to face the challenges ahead.

I love the part about unemployment insurance particularly -- other countries are more competitive than we are because they pay their citizens more not to work.  Huh?  Daniel Mitchel responds:

The editorial conveniently forgets to explain, though, how America is
less competitive because of supposedly inadequate taxation. Is it that
our per capita GDP is lower than our higher-taxed neighbors in Europe?
No, America's per capita GDP is considerably higher. Is it that our disposable income is lower? It turns out that Americans enjoy a huge advantage in this measure. Is our economy not keeping pace? Interesting thought, but America's been out-performing Europe for a long time. Could higher rates of unemployment be a sign of American weakness? Nice theory, but the data show better job numbers in the United States.

I also would point out the general direction of net immigration, which has always been towards the US from nearly every country in the world rather than the other direction.

The favorite argument du jour for more taxes is that the US has more income inequality than other countries.  Well, that is sort of true.  Our rich are richer than theirs.  But are our poor poorer?  In fact, as I posted here, the data (from a liberal think tank) shows that they are not.   The poor in European countries have a higher percentage of a lower median wage.  When you normalize European income distribution numbers to percentages of the US median wage, you can see our poor do at least as well as those in Europe, while our middle class and rich do better.


The US poor still trail countries like Switzerland, but that is because of very different immigration realities.  The US numbers for the bottom quartile are weighed down by tens of millions of recent immigrants (both legal and not) whereas those of Switzerland and Norway are not.  If you left out recent immigrants, my guess is that the US poor would be the richest in the world.

Go, Megan, Go

Best thing I have read all week, from Megan McArdle:

I very rarely get angry about politics. But every time I see some
middle class parent prattling about vouchers "destroying" the public
schools by "cherry picking" the best students, when they've made damn
sure that their own precious little cherries have been plucked out of
the failing school systems, I seethe with barely controllable inward
rage. It is the vilest hypocrisy on display in American politics today.

Maybe They Choose to be Uninsured

Via Arnold Kling, Maggie Mahar writes:

Some citizens of the Commonwealth don't even want to pay for their own
health care insurance. Under the plan, everyone in Massachusetts is
required to buy insurance (or pay a penalty), with the state providing
a 100% subsidy for those who earn less than 150% of the poverty level.
Those receiving the full subsidy are enthusiastic. The state had hoped
to sign up 57,000 uninsured and they've over-shot their target: 76,200
of Massachusetts' poorest citizens have enrolled.

At the other end of the spectrum, the program isn't doing as well.
Uninsured citizens earning more than 300% of the poverty level are
expected to buy their own insurance. Here, the state hoped that 228,000
of its uninsured citizens would sign up. So far, just 15,000 have
enrolled.  Apparently, they've done the math and decided that it would
be cheaper to pay the penalty.  But their premiums are needed to keep
the program going.  If more in this group don't sign up, it is not at
all clear how the state will be  able to continue subsidizing the poor.

All of this adds up to "people without health insurance are so because it is not worth the price."  If they get it free, fine, they will use it like crazy, but they won't pay for it.  So I should for them?


The visit counter rolled over 1,000,000 this morning.   I'm not sure that this number is very meaningful any more, as Coyote Blog gets about a thousand feed readers a day who don't register on Site Meter, but its a fun milestone anyway.  Thanks to all you readers for your interest.

Request to Inventors

I am working this afternoon to put a narration track on my climate movie.  The problem is that I don't really want to hire a narrator, and I don't really have that strong of a narration voice.  What we need is some kind of digital filter that I could apply to my narration mp3 file to make me sound better.  Click on "bbc" and suddenly I would sound like I have a lovely British accent.  Click on "darth" and I would have James Earl Jones' deep baritone.  In fact, in anticipation of such technology in the future, I think James Earl Jones needs to spend several days in a sound booth reading the dictionary so that future generation will have access to his voice, at least digitally.

Environmental Preservation of a Man-Made Lake

Environmentalists are working to preserve another priceless natural treasure, one that has been on this earth supporting its habitat for, uh, decades.  From the Save the Salton Sea web site:

proposed transfer of water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego as
part of the reduction of California's Colorado River use, the possible
reclamation of New River water by Mexico, and the increased evaporation
from the Sea's restoration all threaten to reduce lake levels.  The
proposed transfer of the 300,000 acre feet alone, if inflows are not
replaced, is estimated to drop lake levels by over 16 feet, exposing
almost 70 square miles of sediments.  The result could be potential air
quality problems caused by blowing dust, seaside homes stranded far
from the Sea, and greatly accelerated concentrations of salts and

Of course its freaking drying up.  In a sense, this lake represents the United States' largest industrial spill, as early in the 20th century a couple of Colorado River aqueducts broke and poured water into the Salton basin, creating a brand new sea.  By usual environmentalist arguments, this lake is supposed to dry up, having been an artificial creation of man.  (By the way, as an extra credit task, I challenge you to find anywhere in the web site linked above where they mention that the lake is a man-made accident that is barely 100 years old).

HT:  Maggies Farm

Government Limitations on Choice

I am a little late on this, but Ilya Somin has a nice post on Joel Waldfogel's book on capitalism and serving niche markets. 

University of Pennsylvania business Professor Joel Waldfogel argues that markets give us too few choices because
they often fail to provide products that satisfy minority preferences.
This is the opposite of Barry Schwartz's argument that markets are bad
because they give people too many choices, which I criticized here.
In one sense, Waldfogel's point is irrefutable: due to high startup
costs or fixed costs and just to the general scarcity of resources in
the world, there are some minority preferences that the market won't
satisfy. The market is undoubtedly inferior to a hypothetical world in
which all preferences, no matter how unusual, could be satisfied at
zero cost. Not even the most hard-core of libertarian thinkers denies
this. That, however, says little about the question of whether
government could satisfy such minority preferences better, or whether
it is even a good thing to provide products whose costs are greater
than their benefits.

He makes a number of good points, including the one that first comes to my mind -- that in most cases, it is the government that tends to limit choice.

the relative lack of diversity of programming on radio stations - one
of Waldfogel's principle examples of the inability of the market to
satisfy minority interests - is actually a failure of government
regulation. As Jesse Walker documents in this book,
the FCC has for decades colluded with big broadcasters in suppressing
alternative and "microradio" broadcasters, thereby greatly reducing the
number of stations and making it very difficult to run a station that
caters primarily to the interests of a small minority. Even a
completely free broadcasting market would not satisfy all potential
listeners. But it would have a great deal more diversity than is
currently permitted by the FCC.

I called for the end of broadcast licensing here.  By the way, the author also ignores Sirius and XM, which have some incredibly niche offerings, and which happen to be in the least regulated part of broadcasting.  Why Sirius would have more niche choices than Clear Channel is explained here.

I could add many other examples onto this.  The FCC's regulation of the cell phone market creates the stupid environment we have today, arguing about locked iPhones.  In a previous post, I demonstrated how new government "a la carte pricing' regulation will lead to more homogenization and less focus on niche viewing audiences in the cable TV industry:

I can add a million examples.  Hair braiders are stepped on by the government in collusion with licensed beauticians.  Taxi companies get the government to quash low-cost or innovative shuttle transportation.  Discount casket companies are banned by government in collusion with undertakers.  Take dentistry.  Why do I need to go to an expensive dentist when 99% of my dental needs could be served by a hygienist alone?  Because the government colludes with dentists to make it so.  And don't even get me started on medicine.  My guess is a huge percentage of the conditions people come into emergency rooms with are treatable by someone without a 4 year medical degree and 6 years of internship.  Does one really need a full medical education to stitch up a kids cut knee?  Well, yes, you do today, because doctors collude with the government to make it so.  Why can't people specialize, with less than 10 years of education, on just, say, setting bones and closing cuts?  Why can't someone specialize in simple wills or divorces without a full law degree?

Every business where the government has licensing is an industry where the government is limiting consumer choice.  It is limiting the number of competitors, and it is specifying a narrow subset of ways in which a company can compete, eliminating service or product innovation.  In Colorado, my employees needs a license to take our customers fishing on a lake.  In Phoenix, you need a license to paint street numbers on a curb.  In Scottsdale you need a license to work out of your own home, a license to valet park cars, and a license to give massages.  And, of course, there are our tremendously dated liquor licensing laws.

Per Milton Friedman:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason
is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for
the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are
invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of
the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone
else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is
hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary
motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who
may be a plumber.

Update:  Just for fun, I sat here and came up with 10 business ideas that would provide better service for customers, would reduce costs in notoriously high cost industries (e.g. medicine, dentistry, law) and which would make me a pile of money. which are all illegal due to licensing requirements that are set in collusion with current industry incumbents.

Garbage Nazis

Apparently, the garbage nazis have won the contract in Seattle.  To remind you, here were some of their proposals in their bid for the contract:

If [CEO Chris] Martin is allowed to implement what he calls "my best
idea, my get-people-riled-up thing," we could all soon be subject to a
kind of garbage audit, too. He wants to bring the equivalent of the
red-light camera to your front curb. Just as the traffic camera
captures you running through a stoplight, CleanScapes' incriminating
photos would catch you improperly disposing of a milk carton. (It
belongs in the recycling bin.)

He also has advocated mandatory waster audits, whatever those are.  This is the choice that libertarians face every day -- we can either vote for a party that wants to listen to our phone calls or the party that wants to search our garbage.  Put a pizza carton in the recycling, you spend a night in the box.  Put a milk carton in the trash, you spend a night in the box.

It's never too early to start google bombing the company's home page:  Garbage Nazis