Google Reader coda: will it become social media?

Lynne Kiesling

Apparently I’m not the only one musing on the relationship between social media and RSS readers. Since I wrote the previous post, this Ars Technica post has suggested that Google will fold Reader into Google+.

To which I respond: Meh. Too social. Too visual. Not mobile friendly because it uses too much screen space (disclosure: Eli Dourado said the same to me on Twitter, and I concur). Not easy to either scan or dig deep or put aside for later. Meh.

Enron and crony corporatism

Lynne Kiesling

Rob Bradley has an Econlib¬†essay on Enron, and it’s a good one. He focuses on Enron’s particular form of crony corporatism, its ability to take advantage of regulatory complexity, and the lessons that we should carry forward from the experience:

Enron was essentially a political company, not a free-market one. Ken Lay’s creation would be unknown to history were it not for the distorted incentives from the government side of the mixed economy.

For classical liberals, Enron is a case study in support of the separation of government and business. There is egregious rent-seeking, whereby the company worked to shape political intervention for economic advantage. There is bootleggers and Baptist politicking, whereby Enron teamed with nonprofit groups to win support for what was in the company’s narrow self-interest.

There is the peril of half-slave, half-free. Partially deregulated markets (such as with electricity in California) created a devil’s sand box for profit-making that otherwise would have been absent in a free-market order.

The green costs of Kelo

Lynne Kiesling

At PERC, Jonathan Adler has a trenchant post highlighting the environmental consequences of the eminent domain precedent established in the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision. In opposition to the Keystone pipeline, environmentalists are criticizing the use of eminent domain that could override their objections.¬† Jonathan observes that “… the use of eminent domain for economic development results in more environmental harm than if the market were left alone”, and refers to a paper that he and Ilya Somin have on the subject. Politicized use of government monopoly eminent domain force to redistribute land to politically-powerful developers has detrimental environmental consequences, in addition to being a flagrant violation of individual rights.