100 Economics Question of the Day: An Intermittent Blog: March 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

What will be the Effect on Hotel Rates?

The long-overdue move of NYC into the 20th century continues, with pay toilets being part of the plan.

On seeing a report about these on the local news, my wife--who is smarter than I--immediately asked what would happen if you went over the fifteen minutes. From the article (not the television reporter, who believed we didn't Need to Know):
A quarter will secure entree to the inner sanctum for 15 minutes (with a 3-minute warning). Linger past that, and the door slides open again for the next occupant even if the current one is not quite done.

"People are going use them for sex," she said in response to my clearly Not Getting It.

And the scales fell from my eyes, as Saul-who-became-Paul on the Road to Damascus; visions of available toilets in a city that dearly needs them we transformed into something fit for an early film starring one or another of those TNG guest femmes in their Skinemax days.

What's the TCO for sex in a pay toilet v. a hotel? (1) the ambience is lacking; the Regarding Henry-Expense Account crowd will still use The Ritz. But for what will literally be "a quickie," the worst case is probably that you pay someone a market rate (let's guess ca. $10-20) to put a second quarter in and give you an uninterrupted half-hour. (Anything more than that and the ambience factor should again dominate.)

So will short-term hotel rates have to adjust? Or are there other forces in the market that I'm missing?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Anyone have a question for R. Glenn Hubbard?

Getting to meet him at a reception Monday night, and don't want to be too off-putting. (Most of my usual questions--e.g., given that companies are asking workers to take more risk [e.g., defined contribution pensions], why is their compensation being reduced?--are probably unacceptable to the Powers Who Arranged the Bash.)

Update: No harm, no foud, and not enough ambience to make it worth considering staying at the reception. Noticed a couple of (relatively speaking) Movers and Shakers there, but, as Tom Bozzo notes (after the first set of photos), there are more important things than Another Cocktail Party.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Steve Waldman ignores his own data

The Washington Monthly somewhat proudly adds guest commenters such as Amy Sullivan and Steve Waldman (yes, I know him slightly from college, and, yes, his brother was President Clinton's chief speechwriter, and, no, neither of those affects the underlying data) who tell us that the problem with the Democratic party is the Secular Leftists.

Steve, unlike Amy, cites data (that he published at his admirable beliefnet site) and complains that "secular liberals...seem to have a disproportionate impact on the [Democratic] party's image and approach."

One might wish Steve would examine his own data. The self-identified "Religious Left" split their vote in 2000 evenly between the candidates. That same group in 2004 went 7 to 3 for John Kerry. And the self-identified "Religious Right"? Well, Kerry polled 1% less than Al Gore did--but George Bush also lost 1% of that vote.

Still, are the Evangelicals alienated by Democrats? "Moderate Evangelicals" were 7% of both Gore and Kerry voters. But Bush/Cheney, again, lost 1% of that vote.

The only two places in that table where the Republican vote change is greater than the Democratic party is in Latino Christians and Black Protestants, the latter group of which declined (both as a portion of Democratic vote and as a participation in the electoral process) as distance from the Clinton administration increased.

Looking at the data Waldman cites, it is clear that, if the "secular left" is leading the Democratic party, it's gaining popularity among exactly the demographic that Waldman, David Brooks, and many others identify as declining.

One has to wonder if they understand their own evidence.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Redefing Austerity

Pence-Wise, Quid-foolish

Pull quote:
Senior aides say the conservatives' plan would wring about $350 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs and save $300 billion partly through a major reorganization of the Education, Commerce and Energy Departments.

Because taking medical care from the poor and infirm, cutting education, and energy research is always a win-win situation with economic growth--not to mention with voters. (Explanations of how Commerce made the list would be welcome.)

And, in the "you needed a laugh" category:
...[A] push by some Republicans to re-establish themselves as champions of fiscal restraint...as President Bush struck a similar theme on Monday by asking Congress to grant him line-item veto power to eliminate federal spending that he might judge wasteful.

Because he has always walked the ground of fiscal responsibility, as reflected by his never having used his current veto power despite "the growing practice by lawmakers of inserting spending for pet projects into legislation — a practice that has figured into continuing corruption scandals."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mars Bitching

New Budget Delays or Cancels Much-Promoted NASA Missions - New York Times

So is this a bittersweet microcosm of the Administration: announce a grand plan, then show no follow-through and hope no one notices?