Thursday, July 27, 2006

the ADA is addled

I love to read Greg Perry's articles, and still would even if he weren't born handicapped, as he lovingly calls himself. All this courtesy of a man born with three stubby fingers, one leg, a dazzling intellect and an even bigger heart.
In a brochure written for business owners, the ADA states, "It is illegal to segregate people with disabilities in one area by designating it as an accessible area to be used only by people with disabilities." By their very own words, no accessible area can be segregated solely for use by the handicapped.

Why don’t you test how little the ADA’s authors meant this; park in a handicapped parking space some time without a permit.

So no area can be designated as a handicapped area because doing so would segregate (and separate) the disabled. Yet virtually every aspect of the Americans with Disabilities Act does just that. The ADA’s entire massive collection of rules and regulations states how areas must be changed, marked, and separated for those with disabilities. The very specifications of the ADA violate its own statement against segregation. Nobody cares.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

the other drug war

Sometimes I go through my old posts to see what finer points I might have overlooked at the time, glossed over due to an insufficiency of knowledge, or got completely wrong.

Although my intellectual background was once staunchly politically conservative in nature, and necessarily consequentialist, I think (and hope!) that I've shed that psychological baggage to the point that while recently reading Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed, I was made painfully aware of how far I've come as I cringed over his critique of societal structure being unnaturally corrupted via the welfare/warfare state. I've also become more sympathetic to the the left-libertarian movement, so I don't have a dogmatic aversion to some leftist-aligned agendas such as feminism, abortion or being anti-war. Of course my position as such has my folks scratching their heads wondering if I'm a conservative or a liberal, but overall I think they're slowly learning!

What sort of stumped me before, and seems embarrassingly simple now, was the question, or have you, the free rider "problem". The "problem/question" includes a presumption that I no longer assume; that maximum societal efficiency can be derived through instances of coercion. I now understand that only through free, uncoerced, and voluntary exchange can individuals (and ultimately society) maximize their wealth.

Just to go back to the question though, there was also a presumption that the lack of monopoly privilege for all sorts of intellectual property would stem the well of creativity, as presumingly there would be no way to reward and incentivize the creator into sharing his knowledge. Supposedly without this incentive, we wouldn't have new medicines as nobody would want to invest in the R&D, conduct long clinical trials, just to have some competitor copy their formulation and manufacture a low-priced knock-off.

And so a while ago, Kevin Carson and His Merry Men brought up many good points that lay the blame for high R&D costs at the governments' door. Aside from that, Kevin argued that the patent system in place distorts pharmaceutical research into compounds which are more readily patentable, and not those which are most innovative and useful to the consumer, a direct attack against the idea that monopoly incentives are beneficial to Joe Sixpack Individual.

As Stephan Kinsella, an ardent defender of private property rights, and the warrior leader of the anti-IP intellectual battle evisceratingly writes on the Mises blog:
Hey, I know--let's trust the same government who set up the FDA costs and roadblocks to set up a patent office, and give you partial ownership of others' property to incentivize you just enough to overcome the costs they imposed on you with the FDA and taxes and regulations. Beautiful! And if that's not "enough" incentive, establish a government panel of "experts" to give you "enough" of a reward paid by taxpayers. Beautiful! I like it!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

broken windows raises wealth

In what I think is the first time I've philosophically agreed with something written in the NY Post, the paper speculates that the explosion that destroyed a Midtown Manhattan townhouse actually increased the value of the property!

Although we all know that broken windows do not generally lead to prosperity, in this case, where a property was artificially constrained under the unduly burden of landmark and zoning regulations, the market value of the property was effectively inhibited and lowered, hence lowering aggregate societal wealth.*

As I have wrote several times in the past, the equivocation of rising property prices to an increase in real wealth is nonsense. Falsely believing in such leads many people to consider the effect of landmarking to be beneficial (and on net to outweigh the costs of such market intervention), since empirical evidence seems to correlate the event of landmarking to an increase in property values within the neighborhood.

Of course once you realize that landmarks does not increase wealth, and essentially is an artificial reduction in housing supply, we can expect property prices to shift somewhat upwards in relation of a higher ratio of bidding to a decreased housing market.

Now although in this instance real capital goods were destroyed, this was presumingly an act of "creative destruction", because the owner bypassed the medusa of imposing bureaucrats who wish to freeze New York City into a fairied vision of its past. In doing such, the owner opened up an opportunity for a developer to construct a building more in tune with the market demand for its available floorspace, bringing along greater societal wealth in the process.

Sadly enough, the granfalutin' head of the odious landmarking commission, Robert B. Tierney, in his vain glory visited the site of the explosion yesterday to survey the damage, and to proclaim to all New Yorkers, that fear not, he will make sure that whomever comes along to construct a new edifice will have to survive the gauntlet of the landmarks commission when seeking approval for the new construction, an open invitation I'm sure many will want to pass up.

*This is not to say that in the truly free market the condition favorable to an even higher density construction would be likely, because current housing supply is shaped mostly in part by arbitrary zoning ordinances, varying neighborhood densities to a degree which would be unlikely to arise under laissez faire. At the same time, in the real world, demand on this particular parcel is sharpened because of constraints elsewhere, helping to cartelize the housing supply to the strata of society who want to keep it to themselves.