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 · · Economics

Dumb Software Pricing · I see that IBM has decided to treat dual-core chips as one for software-pricing purposes. Pardon me for going all corporate here, but the whole thing is still moronic. I have this naïve notion that customers ought to pay a price that’s proportional to the value received. In the case of IT infrastructure, this might have to do with the number of people using it, or it might have to do with the size and importance of the business problem, but I guarantee it totally has nothing to do with the number of compute elements you’re running. Why do we let this craziness continue?
Chinese Standing Up · When the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, Mao Zedong famously said “China has stood up.” While it took another forty years to get started, the recent economic explosion has been a world-changer. But that story isn’t over; there’s a remarkable piece in the NY Times this morning outlining how the Chinese are doing a bit of standing up on their own, economically. They’re walking away from those “cheap labour” manufacturing jobs that have served as one of the main economic drivers of the last couple of decades. At the end of the day, cheap labour doesn’t stay cheap. And while there are probably some more “cheap labour” places for businesses to move—India, Africa—the consequences for China have to be profound. And I can see the day coming, maybe not in my lifetime but not that much further out, when the whole notion of moving businesses around the world so you can pay people less has become, finally, self-defeating. What happens then?
Whiskey-Bar Economics · One of the better online writers on the liberal/moderate side of the spectrum is “Billmon” at Whiskey Bar. He’s got a huge, informative, statistics-laced piece on the general state of the U.S. economy, worth a read by anyone who cares even a little bit. As an added bonus, in the comments someone has posted a pointer to this, which (if even moderately accurate) is pretty astounding.
Server Pricing Surprise · I’ve been a little out of touch on computer prices, so I took the time to browse through the Dell leaflet that showed up in the mail. I got a surprise. [Updated. Daniel Sheppard writes in to point that I was fooled by the Dell leaflet—I looked again and it was incredibly misleading—the price in the “Windows” column below is the total price after you add Windows. In each case, the price for Windows is $1,099 (still seems kind of expensive). I fixed the table. It doesn’t prove much of anything any more. Dell leaflets suck. I suck.] ...
On Work and Immigration · There’s an interesting op-ed in the New York Times by David Brooks (who’s recently been serving as existence proof that right-wingers can still be intelligent and interesting). He points out that the two real big differences between the U.S. and European economies is that they work harder in America (350 hours a year, that’s a lot) and they let in immigrants, a million a year in the last two decades. (Warning, I’m passing on his numbers without fact-checking.) He concludes—right-winger, remember—that this is Why America Is Winning, and on the immigration front, I think he’s exactly right. But I keep wondering why working 350 hours—9 or 10 weeks—more per year is considered a good thing.
Unsimple Privatization · There’s an interesting experiment in economics going on up here in Western Canada. The results so far are as clear as mud, but in science that’s usually a symptom that there’s new knowledge trying to squirm out. It’s all about buying booze ...
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