May 25, 2018

Clues to How Macron Achieves Major Free Market Reforms in France



(p. A9) PARIS -- The plush red velvet seats of France's National Assembly are filled with lawmakers who owe just about everything to President Emmanuel Macron.

Three-quarters of the 577 members are brand new, swept into power in the wake of his election last year. More than 60 percent are in his camp. Nearly one-third have never held public office, and 38 were under the age of 31 when they entered office.


. . .


On Thursday [March 22, 2018], tens of thousands of railway workers, teachers and air traffic controllers went on strike across France to protest salary freezes for civil servants and Mr. Macron's pledge to cut 120,000 public-sector jobs and introduce merit-based pay and use more private contractors.


. . .


The assembly has become a showcase of Mr. Macron's forceful powers of persuasion and the ways he wants to reshape and update all of France.

"There's been a complete cultural shock," said Jean-Paul Delevoye, a senior official in Mr. Macron's government who helped pick his candidates for Parliament.

"We've completely overturned the sociology of the assembly," he added.

Diet Coke replaced wine as the most popular item at the assembly's bar. Wine sales had plummeted, stunning the barmen, though they are creeping back up under the influence of long days. Mr. Macron's acolytes sit through them, unlike their predecessors.

Before the rule for a deputy was, arrive Tuesday morning and go home Wednesday evening. Now, many say, Mr. Macron's deputies come for the whole week.

So assiduous are they that "now, it's hard to find a spot at the restaurant, that's what strikes me," said Brigitte Bourguignon, another ex-Socialist who joined Mr. Macron.

Among the youthful deputies, common positions are worked out in advance on applications like Telegram, befuddling the old-timers. There is little patience for them in any case.


. . .


Parliament was barely to be seen last year when Mr. Macron forced through changes to France's rigid labor code to allow companies more flexibility in negotiating directly with workers, and to limit payouts after layoffs.

Instead, the president proceeded by special decree, using a rarely used procedure that allowed the National Assembly merely to vote thumbs up or down on the labor reforms -- it voted up -- but without the power to change or even discuss them.

Then, Mr. Macron rammed through the lifting of a tax on wealth, insisting that it was necessary to free capital for investment. Many economists agreed. But apart from a few opposition whimpers there was hardly any debate.

In coming weeks he proposes to take on the railway workers -- the bête noir of many a French government -- again by special decree. Mr. Macron wants to end the hiring-for-life, early retirement and enhanced medical insurance that have contributed to a whopping deficit. But he doesn't necessarily want Parliament debating it.


. . .


For his dedicated supporters in Parliament, subordination is not an issue. Asked whether he had been in disagreement with the government, Mr. Potterie replied: "Ah, no. No. At the margins maybe. But for the moment, no."

In the National Assembly, "it's true that we don't challenge the government," he added. "It's because we were elected to carry out their program."

That sense of purpose runs deep.

"It's not true that we are simply puppets," insisted Ms. Bourguignon, the former Socialist. "We've got a government that reforms, and we've got to follow the government."



For the full story, see:

ADAM NOSSITER. "Macron Fills the Role Of French Strongman." The New York Times (Friday, March 23, 2018): A9.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 22, 2018, and has the title "Emmanuel Macron Becomes France's Answer to Strongman Populism." The online version says that the article appeared on p. A13 of the New York edition. It appeared on p. A9 of my National edition.)






May 24, 2018

Grünberg Found Useful Effect That Went Against Then-Dominant Theory



(p. A25) Peter Grünberg, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who discovered how to store vast amounts of data by manipulating the magnetic and electrical fields of thin layers of atoms, making possible devices like the iPad and the smartphone, has died at 78.


. . .


Since the British physicist Lord Kelvin first wrote about the subject in 1857, it had long been known that magnetic fields could affect the electrical resistance of magnetic materials like iron. Current flowed more easily along the field lines than across them.

While this effect on electrical resistance was useful for sensing magnetic fields and, in electronic heads, reading magnetic disks, it amounted to only a small change in the resistance, and physicists did not think there were many prospects for improvement.

So it was a surprise in 1988 when groups led by Dr. Fert at the Laboratoire de Physique des Solides in Paris and by Dr. Grünberg found that super-slim sandwiches of iron and chromium that they had assembled showed large sensitivity to magnetic fields -- or "giant magnetoresistance," as Dr. Fert called it. The name stuck.

The reason for the effect has to do with what physicists call the spin of electrons -- their somewhat mysterious ability to have an orientation in space. When the magnetic layers of the sandwich have both their fields pointing in the same direction, electrons whose spin points along that direction can migrate freely through the sandwich. Electrons that point in another direction, however, are scattered.

If, however, one of the magnetic layers is perturbed by, say, reading a small signal, it can flip its direction so that its field runs opposite to the other one; this dramatically increases the electrical resistance of the sandwich.

As Philip Schewe, of the American Institute of Physics, explained, "You've leveraged a weak bit of magnetism into a robust bit of electricity."

Experts said the discovery was one of the first triumphs of the new field of nanotechnology, the ability to build and manipulate assemblies of atoms only a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size.



For the full obituary, see:

DENNIS OVERBYE. "Peter Grünberg, 78, Dies; Heart of Modern Gadgets Is Based on His Research." The New York Times (Friday, April 13, 2018): A25.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date APRIL 12, 2018, and has the title "Peter Grünberg, 78, Winner of an 'iPod Nobel,' Is Dead.")






May 23, 2018

Happiness "Emerges from the Pursuit of Purpose"



(p. C7) The modern positive-psychology movement-- . . .--is a blend of wise goals, good studies, surprising discoveries, old truths and overblown promises. Daniel Horowitz's history deftly reveals the eternal lessons that underlie all its incarnations: Money can't buy happiness; human beings need social bonds, satisfying work and strong communities; a life based entirely on the pursuit of pleasure ultimately becomes pleasureless. As Viktor Frankl told us, "Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy.' " That reason, he said, emerges from the pursuit of purpose.


For the full review, see:

Carol Tavris. "''How Smiles Were Packaged and Sold." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 31, 2018): C5 & C7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date March 29, 2018, and has the title "''Happier?' and 'The Hope Circuit' Reviews: How Smiles Were Packaged and Sold.")


The book under review, is:

Horowitz, Daniel. Happier?: The History of a Cultural Movement That Aspired to Transform America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.







May 22, 2018

Retail Clinics Grow as Office Visits to Physicians Decline



(p. 1) Is the doctor in?

In this new medical age of urgent care centers and retail clinics, that's not a simple question. Nor does it have a simple answer, as primary care doctors become increasingly scarce.

"You call the doctor's office to book an appointment," said Matt Feit, a 45-year-old screenwriter in Los Angeles who visited an urgent care center eight times last year. "They're only open Monday through Friday from these hours to those hours, and, generally, they're not the hours I'm free or I have to take time off from my job.

"I can go just about anytime to urgent care," he continued, "and my co-pay is exactly the same as if I went to my primary doctor."

That's one reason big players like CVS Health, the drugstore chain, and most recently Walmart, the giant retailer, are eyeing deals with Aetna and Humana, respectively, to use their stores to deliver medical care.

People are flocking to retail clinics and urgent care centers in strip malls or shopping centers, where simple health needs can usually be tended to by health professionals like nurse practitioners or physician assistants much more cheaply than in a doctor's office. Some 12,000 are already scattered across the country, according to Merchant Medicine, a consulting firm.

On the other side, office visits to primary care doctors declined 18 percent from 2012 to 2016, even as visits to specialists increased, insurance data analyzed by the Health Care Cost Institute shows.



For the full story, see:

REED ABELSON and JULIE CRESWELL. "Merger Medicine and the Disappearing Doctor." The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sunday, April 8, 2018): 1 & 7.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 7, 2018, and has the title "The Disappearing Doctor: How Mega-Mergers Are Changing the Business of Medical Care.")






May 21, 2018

Big Pharma Is Mellow about FDA Obstacles to Innovation



It sometimes appears that big pharma is comfortable with the hugely expensive FDA drug approval process. Perhaps big pharma firms have learned how to navigate the process and have the resources to do so. And perhaps the process discourages disruptive innovations from small medical startups that have not learned how to navigate the process, and do not have the resources to do so. If so, then the puzzling indifference of big pharma indicated in the passages quoted below, becomes easier to understand.

(There's a wonderful recent TV ad from big pharma supporting innovation by quoting the Dylan Thomas poem saying we should "rage, rage against the dying of the light." If only they really meant it.)



(p. A13) In recent years, the arrival of breakthrough drugs for everything from cancer to rare diseases has led to a surge in the number of patients wanting early access to treatments. The pleas -- sometimes driven by viral social media campaigns -- have proved vexing for companies that have invested millions to get a drug to market and are wary of doing anything to jeopardize their chances.

Today, companies' policies on granting early access to drugs are a confusing patchwork that tends to favor affluent and well-connected patients at leading medical centers, who have the resources and know-how to navigate the system.

"You have to be pretty sophisticated," said Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University who has been working with companies, including Johnson & Johnson, to develop better early-access programs. But the bill passed this week, he said, "does somewhere between nothing and absolutely nothing to help you."

The bill's passage represented a victory for proponents of "right to try," a campaign championed by Vice President Mike Pence and initiated by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank that favors limiting the scope of the F.D.A. At least 38 states have passed local versions of right-to-try laws, which allow patients to sidestep F.D.A. approval once they have received permission from a company.

The right-to-try measures are opposed by a broad coalition of groups, which contend the bill will not help patients and will undermine the authority of the primary regulatory agency, the F.D.A. Four former F.D.A. commissioners, including two each from Democratic and Republican administrations, oppose the bills, as do dozens of patient groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Lung Association.

The pharmaceutical industry, while not taking a position on the issue, has been circumspect. A spokesman for its main lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said on Friday, "We believe any legislation must truly benefit and protect patients and not disrupt the future of clinical trials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight and the research and approval of new medicines."


. . .


The F.D.A. already approves 99 percent of such applications, and the agency has streamlined the approval process. Drug companies also have many other reasons to bar access -- often, companies do not have enough extra product to give to patients, or they worry that the logistical work of granting access could slow efforts to get the drug approved, when it would become available to any patient who needed it.

There is also the possibility that the drug does not work -- many experimental products fail in late-stage trials.


. . .


"In our view, the F.D.A. plays a really important role," Dr. Joanne Waldstreicher, the chief medical officer of Johnson & Johnson, said in an interview Thursday. Johnson & Johnson initiated a program in 2015 that delegates decisions about early access to a program set up by Dr. Caplan. The F.D.A., Dr. Waldstreicher said, has "information that we don't have necessarily; they see safety and efficacy information on products that may be similar."



For the full story, see:

KATIE THOMAS. "For Terminally Ill People, a Convoluted Procedure Just to Give Drugs a Try." The New York Times (Saturday, March 24, 2018): A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 23, 2018, and has the title "Why Can't Dying Patients Get the Drugs They Want?")






May 20, 2018

"A Litigious, Protective Culture Has Gone Too Far"



(p. A1) SHOEBURYNESS, England -- Educators in Britain, after decades spent in a collective effort to minimize risk, are now, cautiously, getting into the business of providing it.


. . .


Limited risks are increasingly cast by experts as an experience essential to childhood development, useful in building resilience and grit.

Outside the Princess Diana Playground in Kensington Gardens in London, which attracts more than a million visitors a year, a placard informs parents that risks have been "intentionally provided, so that your child can develop an appreciation of risk in a controlled play environment rather than taking similar risks in an uncontrolled and unregulated wider world."

This view is tinged with nostalgia for an earlier Britain, in which children were tougher and more self-reliant. It resonates both with right-wing tabloids, which see it as a corrective to the cosseting of a liberal nanny state; and with progressives, drawn to a freer and more natural childhood.


. . .


(p. A12) Britain is one of a number of countries where educators and regulators say a litigious, protective culture has gone too far, leaching healthy risks out of childhood. Guidelines on play from the government agency that oversees health and safety issues in Britain state that "the goal is not to eliminate risk."



For the full story, see:

ELLEN BARRY. "In Britain, Learning to Accept Risk, and the Occasional 'Owie'." The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, March 11, 2018): A1 & A12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 10, 2018, and has the title "In Britain's Playgrounds, 'Bringing in Risk' to Build Resilience.")






May 19, 2018

"Puttin' On the Ritz"



(p. C9) The Savoy, which opened in 1889, was glamorous and cosmopolitan, an antidote to Victorian stuffiness. Its owner, Richard D'Oyly Carte, the backer of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas, had a theater next door, and his ambition was to create a modern luxury hotel the likes of which had never been seen. To fulfill his vision, in 1890 he turned to Escoffier and the Swiss hotelier Ritz, a man known for his impeccable taste, and in short order the two men, who'd had a previous success at the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo, made the Savoy into the most famous and profitable hotel and restaurant in the world.

"Ritz & Escoffier," Luke Barr's entertaining narrative history, reads like a novel (complete with cliff hangers and descriptions of the characters' private thoughts). Both of its subjects had grown up poor, but were opposites temperamentally.


. . .


Neither man had to use the stairs at the Savoy, since the hotel had six elevators, the largest ever seen in Europe, which D'Oyly Carte called "ascending rooms." There were 400 guestrooms and an unheard-of number of bathrooms--67 all told, many en suite and at no extra charge. (The recently opened Hotel Victoria provided just four for 500 guests.) The Savoy also had electric light that you could switch on or off in your room without getting out of bed, also at no extra charge.


. . .


. . ., D'Oyly Carte gave Escoffier and Ritz free rein from the start. The restaurant became enormously popular, a gathering place open to all who could afford it: aristocrats, the nouveau riche, royalty, Jewish bankers and fur traders (Jews weren't freely accepted in society at the time), and stars of the theater and opera. Formal evening dress was de rigueur in the dining room and women were admitted--except those of "doubtful reputation and uncertain revenue," who arrived unaccompanied, wearing makeup and large hats. Mr. Barr writes, "An extravagant hat worn in the evening, Ritz had discovered, was a sign of trouble." But Ritz not only gave ladies' banquets, he also successfully campaigned to change the laws against eating out on Sundays. Soon those formerly grim at-home evenings of "cold joint and gloom" became the most fashionable times of the week to dine at the Savoy.


. . .


Ritz had opened the hotel's doors to anyone with money wearing the right clothes. The old social rules were broken. Mr. Barr comments, "Indeed, there was an element of decadence in the Savoy's brand of luxury--it was this decadence that made it modern, the sense that pleasure was to be celebrated."



For the full review, see:

Moira Hodgson. "'Modern Hospitality." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 31, 2018): C9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date March 30, 2018, and has the title "'Ritz & Escoffier' Review: Modern Hospitality.")


The book under review, is:

Barr, Luke. Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2018.







May 18, 2018

Global Warming Most Affects Coldest Regions



(p. A11) Winters in the United States have gotten warmer in the past 30 years, and some of the coldest parts of the country have warmed up the most.

In Minnesota, winters between 1989 and 2018 were an average of 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, compared to a 20th century baseline, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration analyzed by The New York Times. Florida's winters were 1.4 degrees warmer, on average, during that time.

For each 30-year period above, the maps show how much warmer or cooler winters were across the contiguous United States, compared to an average winter for that location during the 20th century. Though it might not always feel like it, warmer winters have become more common across most of the country. The most significant temperature increases can be seen in the Northern Great Plains, a region stretching from Montana to Michigan.

The Northern Great Plains have warmed up particularly quickly in part because of the dry winter conditions typical there, said Kenneth Blumenfeld, a senior climatologist at the Minnesota State Climate Office. Cold air moving into the area from Canada and the Arctic is also not as cold as it used to be, he said.

"In Minnesota, we used to get to negative 30 or negative 40 degrees with certain frequency. But no longer. Maybe we'll now hit negative 30 with the frequency we used to hit negative 40," Dr. Blumenfeld said. But, he added, this difference in cold extremes can be difficult for people to perceive. When it's that cold out, after all, people tend to stay inside.

The pattern of warming shown here is largely consistent with global trends, said Jake Crouch, a scientist at NOAA's climate monitoring branch. "In general, northern latitudes are warming faster than southern latitudes. Interior locations are warming faster than coastal locations."



For the full story, see:

NADJA POPOVICH and BLACKI MIGLIOZZI. "Where Are America's Winters Warming the Most? In Cold Places." The New York Times (Saturday, MARCH 17, 2018): A11.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 16, 2018.)






May 17, 2018

Ode to Physical Film Premieres on Digital Netflix



(p. C6) "Kodachrome" is based on an article that A.G. Sulzberger, who became the publisher of The New York Times this January, wrote in 2010. It concerned the international rush on Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan., which became the world's last processor of the discontinued color film Kodachrome.

But in a twist that may make camera buffs' heads explode, the feature, directed by Mark Raso, arrives courtesy of Netflix, which bought the movie after it was made. Despite a credit noting that the movie was shot (to little effect) on 35-millimeter Kodak film, "Kodachrome" will mostly be seen on the streaming platform, whose current business model hastens the destruction of physical media.



For the full review, see:


BEN KENIGSBERG. "An Ode to Color Film, Now Streaming Near You." The New York Times (Friday, April 20, 2018): C6.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date APRIL 19, 2018, and has the title "Review: 'Kodachrome,' an Ode to Color Film, Now Streaming Near You.")






May 16, 2018

Silicon Valley Warms to Trumps Lower Taxes and Deregulation



(p. B1) SAN FRANCISCO -- Two days after Donald J. Trump won the 2016 election, executives at Google consoled their employees in an all-staff meeting broadcast around the world.

"There is a lot of fear within Google," said Sundar Pichai, the company's chief executive, according to a video of the meeting viewed by The New York Times. When asked by an employee if there was any silver lining to Mr. Trump's election, the Google co-founder Sergey Brin said, "Boy, that's a really tough one right now." Ruth Porat, the finance chief, said Mr. Trump's victory felt "like a ton of bricks dropped on my chest." Then she instructed members of the audience to hug the person next to them.

Sixteen months later, Google's parent company, Alphabet, has most likely saved billions of dollars in taxes on its overseas cash under a new tax law signed by Mr. Trump. Alphabet also stands to benefit from the Trump administration's looser regulations for self-driving cars and delivery drones, as well as from proposed changes to the trade pact with Mexico and Canada that would limit Google's liability for user content on its sites.

Once one of Mr. Trump's most vocal opponents, Silicon Valley's technology industry has increasingly found common ground with the White House. When Mr. Trump was elected, tech executives were largely up in arms over a leader who espoused policies on immigration and other issues that were antithetical to their companies' values. Now, many of the industry's executives are growing more comfortable with the president and how his (p. B5) economic agenda furthers their business interests, even as many of their employees continue to disagree with Mr. Trump on social issues.


. . .


. . . quietly, the tech industry has warmed to the White House, especially as companies including Alphabet, Apple and Intel have benefited from the Trump administration's policies.

Those include lowering corporate taxes, encouraging development of new wireless technology like 5G and, so far, ignoring calls to break up the tech giants. Mr. Trump's tougher stance on China may also help ward off industry rivals, with the president squashing a hostile bid to acquire the chip maker Qualcomm this month. And Mr. Trump let die an Obama-era rule that required many tech start-ups to give some workers more overtime pay.

Mr. Trump "has been great for business and really, really good for tech," said Gary Shapiro, who leads the Consumer Technology Association, the largest American tech trade group, with more than 2,200 members including Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Mr. Shapiro said that he had voted for Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump's opponent, in 2016, but that he and many tech executives had come around on Mr. Trump. While they disagree with him on immigration and the environment, they have found areas where their interests align, like deregulation and investment in internet infrastructure.

"This isn't Hitler or Mussolini here," Mr. Shapiro said. And even though the president's new tariffs on steel and aluminum could hurt American businesses and consumers, "disagreement in one area does not mean we cannot work together in others," Mr. Shapiro said. "Everyone who is married knows that."



For the full story, see:


JACK NICAS. "Silicon Valley, Wary of Trump, Warms to Him." The New York Times (Saturday, March 31, 2018): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 30, 2018, and has the title "Silicon Valley Warms to Trump After a Chilly Start.")









Eight Most Recent Comments:



PaulS said:

Wonderful. Let's go for strict temporal gating as well as spatial gating. Exile everyone not made of money to the anti-social hours of the clock as well as the monster commutes of the far reaches of Queens and Staten Island. How about fixing the subways, and abolishing the nonsense that makes it take 90 years to build one small 2nd Ave line? How about dispersing the overconcentration of people a bit? It's a huge country and modern communication exists. How about paying for same by taxing the living daylights out of the billionaire rentier class who create the problem by forcing ever more people to cram into highly dysfunctional megacities as the price of having any income at all? You gotta love the nexus between airheaded liberals who want to pile everyone on Earth with a sob story into a few US-ian megacities (rather than fix their own governments and problems), and economics types who then want to punish the very same folks by blocking off absolutely everything with an extortionate toll gate. Not.



PaulS said:

"when the alternative is to have $10 and go thirsty"

In the real world, the politics will get "interesting" with respect to folks who *don't* have $10 to pay for what normally costs $1 or $0.10, and will therefore go thirsty, or be stranded, or worse. Then, also be aware of simple resentment. Then, aggravate the anger with runaway inequality so extreme that the elites running the show will not be inconvenienced in the slightest by any likely level of 'gouging'. Then brace for a social explosion.

All told, it seems fatuous to expect very many people to be happy about being charged, say, an entire car payment just to get home across town from the holiday party. (It seems even more fatuous to expect happiness when the 'gouging' comes as an ongoing life-upending surprise, as with I-66 in Virginia.)

It helps to instead ground oneself in reality. After doing so, it's ridiculously easy to imagine the relevant government and/or employer simply declaring, for example: "If you wish to be allowed to drive a taxi at all, then you will make yourself available, to some specified extent, even at times that may be inconvenient for you."

Indeed, such rules and regulations are utterly banal and commonplace. Nary a soul would weep for Uber if it and its drivers were regulated - even rather harshly - in such a manner. Of course, some souls would become exercised over the minor economic inefficiency of such regulation, but they would number far too few to matter.



PaulS said:

"Dr. Gray was skeptical about the causes of climate change, prompting vitriolic exchanges with other scientists. Judith A. Curry, who was chairwoman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, accused him of 'brain fossilization.'"

I had no idea. These days, after all, Curry is very much in the doghouse as a "climate denier". Wow. What, then, can we deduce about the typical (or merely politically-correct?) level of hysteria in the "climate community"? Of course, many in said "community" would force most of us back into the Stone Age while they themselves continue to jet across the world at whim to attend "conventions" in order to signal virtue by delivering half-hour diatribes on saving the "planet" from impending doom.

Maybe, then, The Donald is right (???!) that it is fairly safe to behave just as the doomers do, and ignore the threat - and their own diatribes - as a practical matter? Wouldn't that be weird?



PaulS said:

Another case in point: between them, Google, Tesla, and others have spent countless billions on mapping the USA, enough for at least $1000/mile including every last obscure Forest Service track. That should be more than enough to catalog everything down to the embossing style on every manhole cover. And yet a person can find their way to Grandma's new house with vague turn-by-turn directions or a vague line-sketch that shows no details whatsoever about the road surface or the sidewalks or the crosswalks. And a person will manage the task without needing, in advance, a finely detailed map of the current construction projects, including lane changes etc. But that severe incompleteness won't stop morally-posturing politicians from forcing autonomous cars onto the populace years or even decades before they are actually ready for unsupervised consumer use. That is the essentially only kind of use they will get in the real world. After all, politicians love to posture, they love to toady up to rent-seeking billionaires, and they love photo-ops of themselves gawking at shiny new tech gadgets. Note that when signals were first installed on the Chicago El, the accident rate went up for a time, as trained motormen became careless about watching where they were going. Not-so-trained consumers will be far too busy fiddling with their phones to be ready to take over on a split-second's notice.



PaulS said:

And there will be unicorns. So we'll have some remote working, but we'll be jailing ever more techies in a few obscenely overcrowded, otherworldly-expensive megacities. Just as Microsofties once told us wasting two days on the now-infamously godawful airlines just to physically attend an hour meeting was going away, but both the meetings and the airlines only got worse and worse.

So not really a big deal, just another stylistic business fad. Those come and go like mayflies - while being crammed, confined, and nailed down, remains eternally.



rjs said:

there's a lot GDP doesnt capture, but i'm not sure where Feldstein is coming from about statins...the consumption of drugs is included in the non-durable goods component of PCE, consumption of health care services by themselves account for 12% of GDP, and R & D would be included in investment in intellectual property products.. the problem is that everyone is trying to make GDP into something it's not...it's a measure of goods and services produced by the economy, full stop. it's not intended to measure increases in life expectancy or well being, or any other intangibles..



rjs said:

actually, if every adult spent the $10,000 that was given to them, it would add about 13% to GDP (less any inflation adjustment) furthermore, as the US is the creator of its own currency, there would be no need to "pay for" such a citizen bonus...we certainly managed to conjure up trillions of dollars to bail out the banks a few years back without "paying for it"; we could just as easily do the same for this case..



Aaron said:

An appropriately sweet topic this Valentine's day, though this may make you this holiday's Scrooge.





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