Republicans trade spending hike for entitlement reform? | Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner reports that Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives have arrived at a budget deal.  Basically, Republicans agreed to lift spending caps, keep the government funded, and increase spending in return for some entitlement reforms and some tweaks of Obamacare.

Read the story after the jump.  A good deal?  Bad deal?  At least the House is no longer paralyzed? [Read more…]

Amazon sues writers of fake reviews

Who among us does not read consumer reviews before buying an online product?  Or eating out at a new restaurant?  Or choosing a service provider?

These seem to me to be a valuable dimension of the online marketplace, and they have become very important to the businesses getting reviewed.  I appreciate it when companies post an answer to a negative review, pledging to address the problems that were noted.  For the marketplace to be responsive to consumers, it needs information, and now that information–from feedback to businesses to warnings and testimonials to fellow consumers–is now instantly available.

And yet it invites fraud.  I read one estimate that 10% of  reviews are faked.  Businesses can review themselves, or cajole or even pay other people to give them a 5-star review.  Review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor try to police that as best they can.

Now Amazon, which posts reviews not only for books but for practically everything it sells,  is suing up to 1,000 writers who are part of a scheme to post positive reviews for $5 apiece. [Read more…]

Free market in a welfare state

In the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders said that what he meant by Democratic Socialism is a system like Denmark’s.   I had to laugh, having just come from Denmark and learning that the system over there is more complicated than either Bernie Sanders or I had realized.

Despite the stereotype of the melancholy Dane, Denmark has been ranked as the happiest nation on earth.  Its income level, standard of living, and economic prosperity are among the best in the world.

It is true that Denmark has what could be described as a welfare state.  Medical care and university education are free, and the generous safety net takes care of just about everybody.  And yet, Denmark also ranks as one of the world’s freest market economies.  I had assumed that the welfare state and pro-business free market capitalism are irreconcilable opposites.  But the two work together in Denmark. [Read more…]

Vengeance, competition, and Christianity

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a discussion of Christian anthropologist Rene Girard and Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel.  It had to do with vengeance, competition, new technology start ups, and why both Girard and Thiel came to embrace Christianity. [Read more…]

Volkswagen’s scam

Since 2009, Volkswagen diesels have had software that detects when the car is on one of those treadmills states use for your annual emissions test.  Whereupon the software causes the car to emit very few pollutants.  But when the car goes back to normal driving, the software shuts down and the pollutants pour forth.

That acclaimed German engineering used for such a flagrant deception!  Now dealers are stuck with lotsful of inventory they aren’t allowed to sell, owners can’t pass their emissions tests, their resale value has plummeted, the head of the company has resigned, and a respected brand is utterly discredited.

Do any of you have a Volkswagen diesel affected by this scandal?  What is the company telling you?

[Read more…]

Collective bargaining with “joint employers”

The National Labor Board has ruled that companies that subcontract parts of their operation or sell franchises to private operators are to be considered “joint employers.”  That means they may have to engage in collective bargaining with the unions that represent employees of the subcontractors or franchisees.

But many subcontractors offer services to scores of companies!  Must all of them have a say in what the smaller businesses pay their employees? [Read more…]


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