Acouple of things from the other blog:
- Maggie McNeill gives a nice overview of the different styles of laws about prostitution.
- My road trip gives me an excuse to address one of the sillier arguments against libertarianism.
Acouple of things from the other blog:
So I just drove from Chicago to the Jersey Shore, and boy are my arms tired… Knees. I meant to say, boy are my knees tired. They got really stiff from sitting in one position for 20 hours of drive time over 2 days.
I wanted to leave on Thursday morning, but a couple of things came up, so I didn’t hit the road until around 1 pm, a bit later than I had planned. As most eastbound trips must, this one began with killer Chicago traffic, followed by a stop at the Gas-A-Roo in Hammond, Indiana to fill up with that cheap, cheap non-Chicago fuel.
Indiana is pretty normal. I’ve been there before and it’s no big deal. I was just going to see more of it this time. I’ve got an Illinois I-Pass transponder for tolls, and it also works in Indiana. At some point, I took a break and used my iPhone to find the tollway website, to see if it would work in any of the other states. As it turns out, Illinois I-Pass is the same as E-ZPass, so it works in a few other states, including all the ones I’d be passing through in the outbound leg of my trip.
Ohio was next, and boy is it a boring state. Actually, for all I know, it’s an interesting place, but I was driving the Ohio Turnpike, so I didn’t see any of it. Just mile after mile of boring highway. The Ohio Turnpike is a depressing thing. It’s a limited access tollway, so the only places you can stop at along the way are the tollway rest stops, which are pretty dreary and all the same. Actually, they’re not quite the same. The rest stops are being upgraded, so there are two types: Obviously old and dreary, or brand new and less obviously dreary.
This dreariness has a well-known economic cause: Monopoly power.The restaurants, stores, and gas stations in the rest stops are the only places you can get to without the annoyance of leaving and reentering, so they have a bit of monopoly pricing power. As is usually the case, not only do they raise prices, they also reduce the quality and variety of goods and services.
For example, I’ve always mapped out my driving routes before taking them, but on this part of the trip, I hadn’t bothered. For the first time ever, I was relying solely on Jill for navigation. (“Jill” is what we call our GPS, because the English language speech files for our Nuvi are named Jack and Jill.)
The problem with using Jill for guidance, I discovered, is that once I got a few hundred miles from home, I was basically just the monkey that drove the car. I had no locational awareness. (At one point, I pulled up a tiny map on my iPhone and was surpised to see that I was skirting the southern shore of Lake Erie and I didn’t even know it.) So I decided to stop and pick up one of those 50-state road atlases that I used to use to plan all my trips.
It turns out they don’t sell those on the Turnpike. Monopoly power means they don’t have to. I was thinking of driving over to the other side of the rest stop and asking the truckers if they know where I could find a proper truck stop. A good truckstop has an awesome variety of driving supplies — everything you could need for living a life on the road.
Anyway, it was getting dark as I passed Cleveland, so I stopped at the Brady’s Leap rest stop just before Youngstown to figure out where I was going to get a room for the night. I tend to stay up kind of late, and I didn’t want to spend three or four hours staring at the hotel room walls when I could still have been driving.
I decided I could make it into Pennslvania. That’s a turnpike too, so it looked like I had only a handful of places I could get off and look for a hotel. Between Kayak and advertising in the rest stops I found a few candidates, but and I couldn’t make up my mind where I was going to stop, so I decided to postpone the decision.
The drive through Youngstown, Ohio was slightly interesting, because somehow Jill got me off the Turnpike. I swear I stayed to the side I was told to stay on, but somehow that got me onto I-680 through town. After that, it was just boring highway all the way to the border.
Pennsylvania was only a little different, mostly because of the mountains, which I couldn’t see at night anyway. It was another boring turnpike. I stopped at the first reststop to figure out my plan for the night. (By the way, the rest stop had Wi-Fi, but they wanted you to pay to use it. Monopoly power again.) Based on the hotel ads, it looked like I could stop at either Irwin, New Stanton, or Somerset. I decided I could make it all the way to Somerset, which looked like it had a lot of hotels.
Unfortunately for me, it also had a lot of motorcyclists for Thunder in the Valley. When I got off the turnpike at 2am and started calling hotels, they were almost all booked up. The Days Inn had a smoking room for $70, and the Super 8 had a Jacuzzi room for $90. I went with the Jacuzzi, but when I got there, the guy offered to let me have the room for $50 if I didn’t use it. I took the deal. I was only going to sleep.
On Friday morning I woke up, checked out, had breakfast, and drove through the mountains of Pennsylvania, which were more interesting in daylight. Also, there were tunnels through some of the mountains, which are an unusual experience for me, being from Illinois, where we don’t really have geography.
(I wonder why they don’t allow lane changes in the tunnels. I guess lane changes must be a cause of accidents, which would be an awful mess and block traffic for a really long time.)
The rest of the drive through Pennsylvania was weaving through mountain valley after mountain valley. I found it relaxing and pleasant, but there’s not a lot to write about. And I never got that road atlas, so I still have no sense of where I’ve been
I had to meet some people at 4:30, and I was on track to be at least an hour early until I crossed the Delaware river into New Jersey. At which point the traffic began to suck. I reached my destination in Avalon at about 4:40, which was close enough that I still got to join everybody for dinner at Sylvesters. Later that night, I took camera and tripod to the beach for some long exposures as the sun went down, although I did something wrong because they came out too dark.
I started to blog all this last night, but I got too tired to finish. I’ll stay here until Sunday morning, and then I’m headed to Pikeville, Kentucky by way of D.C. and whatever scenic routes I can find in Virginia.
Update: The return trip.
I’m going to take a break for a week or so (maybe), but here are a few random shots around the web:
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
— F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
An AP story by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar explains a glitch in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.
The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.
Up to 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That’s because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps.
Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster says the situation keeps him up at night.
This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to restructure a huge chunk of the American economy by quickly passing a giant bill that nobody understands.
And this sort of thing isn’t really what Hayek was talking about. This is a problem with the way various provisions of the bill interact with themselves and other law. Hayek was talking about the kinds of problems that will arise when this complex piece of legislation collides with the thousands of companies and millions of American’s it’s going to affect. People will respond in ways that are hard to predict. There will be unintended consequences.
Of course, some problems have already popped up that seem likely to cause a lot of trouble in the future. The worst thing I’ve heard of so far is the PPACA’s attempt to regulate medical loss ratios, which has a pretty good chance of making a lot of health insurance companies — especially the smaller ones, which would have to manage more volatility in their MLRs — decide to go into some other business. On the other hand, having insurance companies stop insuring children because of onerous regulations is also pretty bad.
I’ve had a few job interviews recently, and although the subject has never come up, it seems likely that, in this day and age, someone at one of these companies is probably going Google me, and the first thing they’ll find is this blog.
So…If you found this blog because I applied for a job at your company or because someone at your company is thinking of hiring me as a consultant, there are a few things I should probably explain…
I’m not like this all the time. I’m not that guy who just has to slip politics into every conversation. (“The project is over budget? Sounds like it’s run by a bunch of Liberals!”) I know how to turn it off. In fact, I really only turn it on for the blogosphere and for private conversations with other people who share my interests. I understand that some subjects are not suitable for the workplace.
I’m not going to blog about company business. I might end up blogging about some interesting things that happened while I was on the job (“I was in Phoenix on business and someone stole my rental car!”), but I’m not going to blog about company business unless your media policy permits me to talk about it. I understand that some things need to stay confidential.
I’m not going to blog on your dime. If reasonable personal use of the internet is one of the perqs of the job, I’ll probably take advantage of that to do some blogging or answer a few comments in my spare time. But other than that, I won’t be working on my own projects while you’re paying the bill.
I’m not a freak. As a matter of public policy, I think we send too many people to jail for a lot of things that should be legal. That doesn’t mean that I want to do those things. I can comply with your workplace policies.
We can talk about the blog. If something on this blog makes you uncomfortable enough that you’d consider not hiring me because of it, tell me about it. If I’m otherwise a good fit to your needs, it would be a shame not to at least try to work something out.
I look forward to working with you.