Friday, November 16, 2007

Gas war!

Apparently collusion is difficult to maintain at the pump:

Investigators say the confrontation started when the owner of the BP station on that corner went to the Marathon station to discuss with its owner why he'd dropped the price for a gallon of unleaded gas to $2.93 per gallon, three cents less than BP.

The discussion quickly escalated into a fight with two more people from the BP station brawling with rivals at Marathon. One man was hit with a baseball bat in the melee. And then, police say, the 51-year-old owner of the Marathon station pulled out a gun and shot the owner of the BP, a 45-year-old father of five children.

In a wild post-script, it appears the BP station is taking advantage of the shooting. While police are still swarming the Marathon station, the BP has jacked up its prices. WXYZ's Bill Proctor reports that as soon as the owner's body was taken away, workers at BP changed the price-per-gallon of unleaded from $2.96 to $3.09.

Imagine if we had that kind of competition at Metro.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Engineering Jihad

Tyler Cowen points to a great paper which connects terrorism to my former profession:

We can thus conclude that among violent Islamic radicals engineers are two to four times more likely to be found than the null hypothesis would predict.

Whether American, Canadian or Islamic, and whether due to selection or field socialisation, a disproportionate share of engineers seems to have a mindset that inclines them to entertain the quintessential right-wing features of “monism” – ‘why argue when there is one best solution’ – and of “simplism” – ‘if only people were rational, remedies would be simple’.

... Engineers turn out to be by far the most religious group of all academics – 66.5 per cent, followed again by 61.7 in economics, 49.9 in sciences, 48.8 per cent of social scientists, 46.3 of doctors and 44.1 per cent of lawyers, the most sceptical of the lot.

Further, the paper goes on to argue that engineers get dangerous when there is a lack of engineering opportunities, as is the case in most Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia is supposedly the main exception, i.e. there are plenty of opportunities there for engineers and so Saudi Arabian terrorists are not disproportionately drawn from engineers. But doesn't Saudi Arabia produce as many terrorists per capita as just about any other country? How do we explain that?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Banks v. credit unions

CEI just published an article I wrote on banks, credit unions, and field of membership. It's yet another story about special interests using government to block out the competition.