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General Discussion / Re: Water Cooler Chit Chat
« Last post by polly_mer on Today at 02:57:42 PM »
...as I am a consistent re-reader of my favorites or even just sections of books I particularly like.  We tend to bring a box of books we have read to the used book store and come home with 2 boxes of books from the used bookstore.  Thus, the need for more shelves.

Yep, that's how it goes here as well.  The only thing I've found that slows the acquisition is to schedule pickups for donations.  We have a local enough charity that brings the big truck and will pick up boxes of books, clothes, etc. so we don't have to be tempted as we donate.

However, I have two bookcases of new-to-me books just waiting for an opportunity like all the libraries and bookstores being closed.  I'm not overindulgent;  I'm just preparing to be a good social distancer.
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General Discussion / Re: Preparing for Coronavirus?
« Last post by Hegemony on Today at 02:46:07 PM »
Or we could just nationalize the production and get the supplies at cost. I don't particularly relish a higher tax burden so that we can pay out higher profit margins for producers of masks and ventilators.
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From same guy who did the viral Hello (from the Inside) Adele parody -- when you need a good laugh.

This one is heartwarming, not humorous.  Thank U Frontline.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGKFVMgjrPc
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General Discussion / Re: Preparing for Coronavirus?
« Last post by dismalist on Today at 02:03:15 PM »
We have a fundamental problem here in answering the question: Who owns what?

The lamentable rural communities do not own the needed stuff, not even the toilet paper. The speculator, and s/he is taking a risk, now owns the stuff because s/he was quick! That act of raising price is indeed a service for now we know we need more of the stuff and more will be produced if that price is allowed to rise!

I can quite understand the objection to this logic in an epidemic, a public bad in other jargon. But to have had any chance of handling allocation any differently we'd have to have had a nimble government which acted BEFORE our speculator friends. Comparing governments across the globe, only two were nimble enough to carry this out properly. The rest were caught asleep at the wheel, our government particularly deeply. I would not expect anything else from government.

[Governor Cuomo laments competition between the states and FEMA for supplies, rather hoping that FEMA should do it itself and then allocate to the places with most need. His, I guess. Nothing but self interest there, too. And arithmetically, FEMA acting as purchase agent would have to buy what the states + FEMA would have bought separately. Same affect on price!]

The best, absolute best thing one could do - earlier, but it's not too late now - is to allow price to rise, and watch output rise. The alternative is squabbling over who gets the TOO FEW masks and respirators, you, the others, or me. Let's squabble over more masks.
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General Discussion / Re: Preparing for Coronavirus?
« Last post by apl68 on Today at 01:19:06 PM »

Quote
And that poor guy who was stocking up on hand sanitizer is stuck?

Guess profiteering is only allowed if you are a big wheel with a big lobbyist.
Regulation against price gauging and hoarding backfiring... not surprising. Also no law against exporting at the higher price, you just can't sell it locally at the price.

We really shouldn't underestimate the harm that bureaucracy can create (in addition to all the benefits). For example, a colleague of mine can't hire a programmer for a specialized service, because the university requires her to get three bids from vendors -- and there's exactly one company that does it. They aren't doing an exception, so we can't use her funding. Another co-author needs approval from accounting to pay participants for experiments, but their earnings depend on what they do in the task. Without co-authors, he couldn't do any of his research.

Also, hoarders serve the same purpose as ticket scalpers: they take a good that's inefficiently allocated and get it where it creates the most value. People hate both the same and so laws against it aren't informed by economic efficiency as much as by a sense of fairness. Doesn't really matter when it comes to concert tickets, but inefficiency in responding to a virus outbreak is not helpful.

The guy's weasel justification for his actions that he was "performing a public service" by helping to correct market inefficiencies was the thing about his actions that most stuck in my craw.  He effectively stripped dozens of rural communities of their local supplies of hand sanitizer, so that he could sell them at a markup to places where people were willing and able to pay much more for them.  So that's what maximizing market efficiency is all about?  Stripping one community of its resources--which it's going to need just as much as any other community in this emergency--in the interests of maximizing profits?  So insuring that it's possible for speculators to make the highest profits is the highest social good?

So the needs of less-affluent rural communities like the one I live in just don't count?  What's really important is where can the supplies we need be sold at the greatest markup?  By that metric we're always going to be the losers.

I suppose next you'll be telling us that if we don't like being a loser community we should all just move elsewhere.  Watch out with that, though--we have a major toilet paper factory here.  If we all leave, then the toilet paper situation is going to get worse!  Then again, I suppose increasing the scarcity will just create that much more scope for improving "market efficiency," by creating still more opportunities for those who are sufficiently clever, lucky, and ruthless to make a killing.
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General Discussion / Re: Preparing for Coronavirus?
« Last post by spork on Today at 12:58:19 PM »
Virtual funerals have started in this area. No one in my immediate circle yet.
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General Discussion / Re: Preparing for Coronavirus?
« Last post by pigou on Today at 12:51:28 PM »
There's no shortage of N95 masks. See this report of a journalist who spent a day in the N95 mask trade world and saw 280 million US-manufactured masks get sold. They all got exported: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2020/03/30/i-spent-a-day-in-the-coronavirus-driven-feeding-frenzy-of-n95-mask-sellers-and-buyers-and-this-is-what-i-learned/

Okay, I just read this article.

The issue is that the market price is allowed to change. Those other countries probably have fixed government prices so they can easily extend their PO's without negotiating. That is causing the hangup.
But they're importing from the US at prices that are also changing based on market conditions. Market prices (by definition) change as a function of supply and demand.

ciao_yall: if it were as easy as just modifying the purchasing order, then there'd definitely not be a shortage at US hospitals. Yet, there is. Something is going wrong in the process.

Quote
Same with transportation costs suddenly shooting up.
A huge part of that is that cargo containers are being held up and that stuttering is causing massive delays in shipping. So wares are getting moved by cargo plane, which is much more expensive. And even those are running out -- some old planes currently positioned in desserts are getting activated again.

Came across an anecdote of an executive at Goldman Sachs getting two Gulfstreams to China to pick up masks for NYC. That's $5,000/hr operating cost per plane. (Apparently because the local airport didn't have space for a large cargo plane anymore.)

Quote
And that poor guy who was stocking up on hand sanitizer is stuck?

Guess profiteering is only allowed if you are a big wheel with a big lobbyist.
Regulation against price gauging and hoarding backfiring... not surprising. Also no law against exporting at the higher price, you just can't sell it locally at the price.

We really shouldn't underestimate the harm that bureaucracy can create (in addition to all the benefits). For example, a colleague of mine can't hire a programmer for a specialized service, because the university requires her to get three bids from vendors -- and there's exactly one company that does it. They aren't doing an exception, so we can't use her funding. Another co-author needs approval from accounting to pay participants for experiments, but their earnings depend on what they do in the task. Without co-authors, he couldn't do any of his research.

Also, hoarders serve the same purpose as ticket scalpers: they take a good that's inefficiently allocated and get it where it creates the most value. People hate both the same and so laws against it aren't informed by economic efficiency as much as by a sense of fairness. Doesn't really matter when it comes to concert tickets, but inefficiency in responding to a virus outbreak is not helpful.
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General Discussion / Re: Water Cooler Chit Chat
« Last post by mamselle on Today at 12:27:02 PM »
I'm rehabbing my broken-nearly-recovered foot with simple modern and ballet exercises. (No turn-out, everything in parallel, and I'm not pushing the extensors or flexors yet until they're ready--just little movements, gradually increasing their range.)

I've started with the things I'd give my 5-year-olds, working up from there. I figure it'll take a few weeks to loosen up all the little muscle sheathes that got stuck together while my foot was in a cast, and I'm just doing one-footed balance stuff for now, until the healing foot is really ready to take my full weight (uhG! There's another challenge--let's lose some of that weight, while I'm at it!!)

But I'm putting the injured foot (never call it a "bad" foot, it will feel embarrassed) down on the ground more, carefully, and shifting weight on and off of it at times, to get it used to the idea that one of these days, the free ride is over...

Time to start prepping my music lessons for this afternoon, later, guys!

M.
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General Discussion / Re: Water Cooler Chit Chat
« Last post by Parasaurolophus on Today at 12:11:10 PM »
It looks like there's a real uptick in the number of spammy registrations here. I wonder why?

On the exercise front, as an amateur bodybuilder, I'm feeling the absence of the gym. I'm just relying on resistance bands at the moment.
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General Discussion / Re: Water Cooler Chit Chat
« Last post by hmaria1609 on Today at 12:04:58 PM »
From a sandwich board sign I saw last year:
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I have so many books at home I haven't read yet. Oh look! A bookstore.
The sign was outside the front door of an independent bookstore in Burfurd, UK.
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