Why there is a law against eating horse meat in California?

In class, we talked about a criminal code that eating horse meat is prohibited in California. California Penal Code Section 598 states that “horsemeat may not be offered for sale for human consumption.” Although I have never, don’t want to, and probably will not eat horsemeat, this law seems quite interesting to me. Because in liberal democracies, people have the freedom to choose and make their own decisions, and the government would not interfere with the matters of food choices. People have the freedom to eat what they want unless the law prohibits them from doing so. Thus I wonder if this counts for meddlesome preferences.

Historically, humans and horses have been connected for a long time. Horses have not only played a vital role in the agricultural societies, but they are man’s best friends. Are horses different from other farm animals? Eating horsemeat is illegal in California, but there aren’t laws against eating chicken, pigs, and cows, etc. Some people tend to think that unlike other farm animals, horses are not raised for the purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption. Also, eating horse has been considered as pagan ritual and celebration. With the rise of Christianization, people have become reluctant to eat horse meat.

Although in some of the other countries, horse meat is eaten on a regular basis, it is banned in California. The debate over whether to eat horse raises moral concerns. Some people argue that it is inhumane and cruel to kill and eat horses. They are pets, friends, and family.

Another reason that Americans do not eat horse because there are many substitutes, such as chicken and beef. Also, there has been an increase in vegetarian practices. People support meat avoidance that leads to a decrease in meat consumption in general.

Eating horse meat is identified as a moral question, which is shaped by religious and health concerns. In addition, in utilitarian economics, economists are likely to look for optimal outcomes. Thus they want to make as many people better off as possible. A good law is written to protect and defend most people’s benefits and concerns. Since the law is only restricting people who selling/eating horse meat in restaurants, I think it is not meddle people’s preferences. It is reasonable.

http://web.stanford.edu/~niederle/Repugnant%20markets.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2034431/

Why we shouldn’t rely too much on GDP and Human development index to tell us how we are doing

Up to now, I personally think we are yet to come up with a more accurate and adequate way of measuring our welfare, our quality or standard of living, that is, how happy we feel in our lives or how enjoyable and satisfying our lives are. If this is what we are measuring GDP (output) is in so many ways an inadequate measure of welfare because it is concentrating on output, it focuses more on commodities therefore GDP does not capture the happiness and joy got from family and social networks. So some economists have tried to come up with new ways to better measure GDP as a measure of our welfare, and they have broken down welfare into three things that they believe constitute welfare. Firstly, welfare has something to do with consumption of goods and services giving us utility, pleasure, or happiness. Secondly, it also has something to do with our life expectancy because obviously the longer we live, the longer we can enjoy the pleasure we get from consumption. Last but not least, as humans we have the desire to reach our potential in life, to feel that we have achieved what we are capable of achieving and so this should also be included in any measure of welfare. With this in mind, economists came up with a measure called the human development index (HDI), which includes GDP per capita (Consumption), healthcare and education. When calculating countries’ HDI, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) includes healthcare, and this healthcare is measured in terms of infant mortality rate (ie number of infant deaths below the age of 1 per 1000 births which translates into an infant mortality of 10%). Another measure of healthcare in the HDI is the number of doctors per 1000 people as well as the life expectancy. In terms of education measures, the HDI includes literacy rates, the average number of years of school education and for the output measures, the GDP per capita. Taking these three measurements, the HDI comes up with an index number, which is a combination of GDP per capita, healthcare measures and education measures.When the UNDP tries to compare countries as they appear in GDP ranking and HDI ranking we do see a very strong correlation between countries measured in each way. The ones that are ranked high up tend to be also high up in the HDI ranking, which tells us that they are not measuring things that are completely different, and it also tells us that despite GDP faults is not such a bad measure of welfare. However there are exceptions to this rule and China is a notable example. China is second in the ranking of GDP in the world, but not even in the first 90 countries in UNDP 2013 HDI ranking report. So we can argue that China has an economy that produces a lot of output but where the welfare of its population is relatively low compared to other countries. This shows again that there are differences in measurement between GDP and HDI within countries, and that in some cases HDI is probably a better measure of welfare than the GDP.

The HDI of these countries does not necessary equal to their GDP, infact the U.S and China were among the countries with the highest GDP but they had relatively low HDI compared to other countries.

The HDI of these countries does not necessary equal to their GDP, in fact the U.S and China were among the countries with the highest GDP but they had relatively low HDI compared to other countries.

However, HDI does not capture accurately what happens in everyday life of the population to be able to measure the people’s development. If a metaphor is used, GDP represents a house and the HDI is the door to the house. One should not mistake the door to be the house and one should not stop at the door, rather one should enter the house. According to the British Medical Journal article by Tony Delamonthe, research done in Mexico, Ghana, Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. shows that although individuals typically get more wealthy (increase in per capita) during their lifetimes, they don’t get happier. Rather, argues Delamonthe, family, social and community networks bring joy to one’s life, and these are the things HDI can not really capture in terms of numbers. Additionally, the value of leisure has a straightforward interpretation. A worker makes a choice between working an extra hour and enjoy the utility from consumption of the goods that extra hour buys or to use that hour as leisure time which also contributes to the welfare of the worker. Therefore the value of life is more tricky to measure. Even though HDI is probably in some cases particularly in some countries a better measure of welfare and logically because it includes more than just GDP does, it still leaves important items out of the question, and this type of measurements have us fooled that the population is developed in most aspects of life when in reality it is a commodity-based interpretation of one’s quality of life.

Works cited

“Human Development Report 2014 Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience” UNDP.Web. 2014 http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr14-report-en-1.pdf

“Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study” . Dr. Tony Delamonthe. The British Medical Journal (Thebmj). 05 december 2008. Web. http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a2338

NASA and The Private Sector

NASAOver the past 50 years, the majority of space research and exploration has been initiated through the government.  However, in recent years the United States has begun transitioning away from this trend. Private companies are starting to enter a new market: space exploration. These “New Space” companies have a lot to offer but also bring some downsides

The emergence of these companies is largely due to NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transport Services Program (COTS) was starting in 2006 and subsidized commercial firms for the development and testing of a spacecraft that could replace the space shuttle.

The program was such a success because it removed many of the barriers to entry that existed in the emerging market. In addition, the program acted as a sort of fiscal policy.  Most of the $700 million dollars spent stayed within the US and created serious jobs for the US economy.  Funding these firms has jumpstarted the market to lead the world in this emerging industry.  More than 20 businesses applied for the COTS Program. The contenders were eventually narrowed to Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada. 

By awarding more than one company the contract NASA encouraged competition. In the past, both Boeing and Lockheed Martin have held near monopolies on some aspects of the demand (such as launching military satellites).  As a result of their strong grasp on the market, Boeing has been able to charge high prices for its products.  Now, these monopolies are beginning to crumble as NASA shifts its funding toward awarding contracts and relying more heavily on commercial industry. Consequently, companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Blue Orbit, and Boeing now compete for federal funding and contracts. By enabling competition (through reducing the cost to entry for many space startups like SpaceX), market forces have driven down prices and incentivized firms to find ways to get to space cheaper and faster than NASA ever could. Private firms are iss-wallpaperincreasingly looking to NASA to fund their own missions and development.  For example, just recently, SpaceX and Boeing received US government contract to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).  Planetary Resources are working towards mining near-earth astroids and astroids in the astroid belt.

spacex-latino

NASA’s role has obviously changed. Part of the government agency has become a sort of regulator/consumer for a market by issuing licenses and contracts to private firms. However, some aspects of space exploration aren’t yet practical for businesses to pursue.  Thus, National Space Programs have narrowed their mission to invest in areas of space exploration where profits aren’t yet realistic or fit for commercial endeavors. 

Their are also some downsides that come from an increased reliance on the private sector.  A lack of experience makes reliance on these firms more risky both in terms of safety and as an economic investment thus many people are not interested in funding dicy business plans that haven’t been proven in the market. In addition, the way our space program is structured would place the profit motive ahead of the research motive for all space missions, possibly making the missions less scientifically efficient.

In conclusion, we find that though private space companies help with two hugely important things: development of new technologies and lower costs.  By investing in the formation of these companies the United States is pushing our industry to the forefront of an emerging market, all the while creating good jobs and fostering innovation.

-Eric Rannestad

References:

“NASA vs. the Free Market: Which Is Better for American Space Dominance?” Digital Trends. 31 Aug. 2012. Web. 6 May 2015.

“Taxi to Orbit: NASA Goes with Old Space and New Space (with a Cameo by Jeff Bezos).” Washington Post. The Washington Post. Web. 6 May 2015.

Cuadra, Alberto, and Katie Park, Published: Nov. 22, 2013. “New Players in the Space Race.” Washington Post. The Washington Post. Web. 6 May 2015.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-04-28/elon-musk-challenges-lockheed-boeing-rocket-monopoly

http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2013/10/02/houston-we-have-a-market-privatizing-space-launches-pays-off-big/

Chunyun: The Dilemma of Price

Chunyun, meaning transportation during Spring Festival vacation, always causes severe problems in China every year. One of those problems is the difficulty of obtaining tickets of trains and planes. Railway ticket is particularly hard to get, because the price is pretty low due to government control, railway transportation becomes the first choice of low-income population such as labor workers and the majority of college students. According to the State Planning Agency at a press conference in 2014, during Spring Festival, there are 42 million trips by air and 258 million trips by train, overwhelmingly higher than other seasons. Unfortunately, those numbers are still increasing every year.

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Though the railway system is a monopoly directly under government control, without generating madness of low-income population against the government,  it sets the price of railway tickets much lower than any other markets of transportation (where competition exists). Such a lower price, unsurprisingly, creates a huge gap between the actual price and the equilibrium price during the time of Spring Festival transportation headaches, which are worsened when more people stand in long lines in order to buy just one ticket. A Chinese economist, Mao Yushi, suggests a strategy, which increases the price of railway tickets in Spring Festival to reduce the stress of Chunyun. According to him, the demand is a lot higher than it should be. People have to queue up to buy tickets, and the opportunity costs of waiting in line compensate or even exceed the increase of ticket prices if such increase is allowed. One more problem to be added, is the flow of revenue from government to those ticket scalpers, who trained themselves especially capable of getting extra tickets and sell them in skyrocketing prices. The point is that, even the government mandatorily sets up a lower than normal price, the market finds some way to work around it. And the consequence, is that the revenue which should be earned by the government, goes directly to those ticket scalpers.

In face of the shortage of train tickets, the low-income population must find alternatives to come back home. The price of taking buses increases too at this time, partly because of the  substitution from railways. However, bus is not suitable for really long-distance travel and most travelers have distance of traveling way beyond the limit buses can efficient for. Flight ticket does not have an overwhelming increase at this time because most train riders find it to be too expensive to afford.

Moreover, if government lets the price increase to the equilibrium, the shortage of railway tickets could not happen, but people would blame the government for their inability of traveling back home affordably because the railway system is directly owned and controlled by the state. Chinese government is in such a situation of dilemma that they have to keep the price low and leave the market being crazy. A better approach to this problem would be putting more effort into developing the economy of those destination provinces during Chunyun. the major reason for this huge flow of travelers is that the laborers in low-income provinces seek opportunities in better-paid provinces. Filling the gap of developed and under-developed provinces would cure the headaches, but the government tried, due to various reasons such as bureaucratic inefficiency and corruptions, it never manages a way to do so.

Work Cited,

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-01-16/chinas-massive-spring-festival-travel-forecast-3-dot-6-billion-passenger-trips

http://maoyushi.blog.sohu.com/109586841.html

The Economics of Costco

Stitched Panorama

From my experience working at Costco last summer, I was able see Costco’s brilliant business model from an employee’s perspective. Costco’s business model enables it to make massive profits, sell products at rock bottom prices and treat its employees well. Costco marks up its merchandise about 11% above its average total costs. Most other retailers mark up their products anywhere from 20% to over 100% of their average total costs. This means that Costco’s per unit profit is typically only a few cents. However, since Costco sells billions of items, the seemingly tiny per-unit profits equate to billions of dollars. In 2014, Costco made $112.4 billion in revenue. Its cost of goods sold added up to $98.46 billion, which means Costco made a gross income of $14.18 billion.

costco photo 5

Costco sells exactly what consumers want. It has a wide variety of name brand products including groceries, electronics, appliances, clothing, office products and so much more in bulk sizes. Consumers love the bulk sizes because they are proportionately much cheaper than competitors and they love getting a lot of what they want. Especially because of America’s super-sized culture, the bulk sizes are extremely popular. There is so much demand for Costco’s low prices, that people will pay the $55 annual membership fee in order to take advantage of Costco’s discounts.

costco photo 2

Costco is able to sell its products at the lowest prices for a variety of reasons. First Costco has great relationships with manufacturers. Companies want to sell their products to Costco because of the massive number of units that will sell if their product is sold at Costco. However, at the same time, if a product is not selling at the rate that Costco expects, it will discontinue it after 9-12 months. While they have great relationships with producers, Costco also negotiates down to the penny. In 2010, Costco halted its relationship with Apple because Apple would not let Costco sell its products online. Because of its negotiating power, Costco is able to get its inventory for the lowest price of any firm in the market. In addition, Costco is extremely frugal when it comes to costs that it deems unnecessary. All Costco locations are warehouses with cement floors. The warehouse setup has much lower fixed costs than its competitor’s retail spaces. Extra inventory is stored on huge orange platforms that are certainly not the most appealing sight. However, visual appearance is not a concern for Costco. They are in the market to provide the best prices on the high quality products that all consumers use. The warehouse break rooms and offices are very simple. There are only a few computers in the warehouse offices. In addition, the cash registers are quite outdated, but they still get the job done. Since Visa, Mastercard and Discover were unwilling to accept the deal that Costco wanted, Costco decided that it would make American Express its exclusive credit card provider. In sum, Visa, Mastercard and Discover were going to charge Costco a fee on all credit transactions that was more than Costco was willing to pay, so Costco decided not to do business with them. Costco figured that since the credit card companies wouldn’t accept the deal that Costco wanted, the credit card companies would miss out on providing credit for billions of dollars’ worth of transactions. Even though most members’ savings accumulate to many times the membership fee, the $55 paid by each member helps Costco cover some of its operating costs. When walking around a Costco, one may notice that there are not many employees to answer questions around the warehouse. This is because all employees have specific jobs that command all of their energy and attention. Costco does not want to pay employees to stand around and answer questions because it is an inefficient use of their time and an inefficient use of Costco’s money. All of the shelves are stocked during the night because it is most efficient when customers are not in the aisles.  Costco is also environmentally efficient in that instead of using bags, it reuses boxes at the check-out line. Lastly, Costco cuts out huge costs by not advertising on TV. Costco relies on word of mouth to attract new customers, while its competitors have enormous advertising budgets.

costco photo 3

Because of Costco’s brilliant for lowering costs without affecting its popularity, it is able to compensate its employees like no other retail company. Employee treatment is a key part of Costco’s successful business model. Costco strongly believes that happy workers are more efficient, provide better customer service and overall make Costco a more successful company. Costco’s hourly workers make an average hourly salary of $20.89 and 88% of its employees have company sponsored health insurance. I was paid $11.50 per hour, which is Costco’s starting wage. For each additional 200 hours of accumulated work, hourly wages increase by $0.25, until they reach the cap of $25.00 an hour. If there is one thing that the general public does not know about Costco, it is just how much Costco expects out of its employees in exchange for its above average wages. Costco expects all of its employees to go 100%, 100% of the time. I worked 6 hour shifts retrieving carts on hundred degree days or worked in the checkout lines loading heavy items into carts. Supervisors monitored how many transactions each checkout line completed each hour, which meant I was always pushed to go faster. There was never any down time because Costco was always packed with shoppers and there was always work to be done. Overall, working at Costco was hard and laborious, but at the same time I was able to gain valuable insight into the day to day operations of one of the most well run companies in the world.

costco photo 4

Sources:

http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/cost/financials

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/12/q-a-with-costco-s-ceo-w-craig-jelinek/index.htm

http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/123492-costco-ceo-craig-jelinek-leads-the-cheapest-happiest-company-in-the-world

http://www.photoprintprices.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Costco-PhotoPrintPrices.jpg

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2012/10/06/arts/design/06costco-1/06costco-1-articleLarge.jpg

http://g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/76394/img_1597-xl1_large.jpg

http://dg6qn11ynnp6a.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/Costco.jpg

http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibtimes.com/files/styles/v2_article_large/public/2010/09/02/19405-an-exterior-view-showing-a-costco-warehouse-store-in-chicago.jpg?itok=wa21sp9R

Money Manziel: Dynamic Inconsistency and Projection Bias in NFL Draft Jersey Sales

nfl-draft-tv-channel-schedule-live-stream

At almost every part of the year the NFL finds a way to dominate the American, and global, market. Last Friday, the NFL Draft took the top cable rating, over the NBA playoffs. The Draft, however, does not just bring in revenue from viewers. Merchandise, and the actual event in Chicago draw money from the fan’s pockets as well. Jersey sales, especially, skyrocket following the draft. As many fans know, Johnny Manziel jerseys eclipsed several prominent players to become the top selling jersey in the NFL’s first fiscal quarter last year, and even now it ranks third. Of course he hadn’t yet touched the field, and still hasn’t as a true starter. Why then, did fans throw $100.00 at an untested player? If they had just waited until the NFL season they could have at least known their jersey would never mirror any on the field.

There are two camps of people who buy Manziel jerseys: Manziel fans and Browns fans. When Roger Goodell climbed the podium to announce the draft picks, Manziel fans were eagerly awaiting the name of the team that would claim their beloved player. This group of people had already made up their mind to follow the kid they liked in college and would buy whatever jersey his name was on, no matter the team. The other group was the remaining Browns fans who endured countless losing seasons. These people just wanted something to inspire their hope in a failing franchise. Manziel represented that hope, and so they hopped aboard. Still, they could have waited. But stuck in such a massive rut, these fans saw any hope as a sure thing. Clearly, Manziel would provide the spark the Browns needed not the milquetoast Brian Hoyer.

Projection bias, however, does not wholly define the problem, these people obviously overvalued immediate gratification. If they waited until August, they would know that buying a Manziel jersey might not be the best idea. Looking to this year’s draft I see a similar situation unfolding.

The main drama of this year’s draft centered around whether Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston would be drafted first overall. Well, the Buccaneers took Winston first, followed immediately by the Titans grabbing Mariota. Both of these franchises appear very similar to the Browns, but most franchises with either the first or second overall picks are not doing so hot. Still, these two teams have been floundering for a few years now. A mere hour after the draft concluded, Winston jerseys went on sale on Twitter. As for Mariota, the Titan’s Pro Shop at LP field and an online retailer have sold 1,000 jerseys combined. NFL.com has not yet published their jersey sales.screen-shot-2015-04-30-at-6-54-11-pm

With such a heavy reliance on speculation it seems ludicrous to buy a jersey on draft day. While many people succumb to instant gratification and projection bias, many others remain too skeptical to purchase an unproven jersey. Schuylkill Valley Sports, offers optional insurance, $10, on NFL jerseys. It would reimburse the customer if the player is cut or traded. Though this is quite different from buying a jersey with the expectation that the player will start, this idea still alludes to a possible solution. By offering insurance on drafted players, the NFL can assure customers in their purchases. But they wouldn’t have an incentive to do so, since they would effectively lose revenue, especially in the case of Manziel.


Works Cited

ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

“Friday Cable Ratings: NFL Draft Coverage Tops Night + NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey & More.” TVbytheNumbers. N.p., 04 May 2015. Web. 06 May 2015.

Guy, Dumb. “Paradise Lost.” Screw You. 4th ed. Vol. 54. New York: Newer, 1350. 290-697. Print.

Mary Kay Cabot, Northeast Ohio Media Group. “Brian Hoyer Named Starter over Johnny Manziel for Cleveland Browns Opener in Pittsburgh.” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

Milton, John. The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton. Ed. William Kerrigan, John Peter Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon. New York: Modern Library, 2007. Print.

Rovell, Darren. ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

Rowan, Tommy. “Eagles Fans Offered Insurance for Jersey Purchases.” Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

Sessler, Marc. “Browns’ Johnny Manziel Leads NFL in Jersey Sales.” NFL.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

“Top Selling NFL Jerseys.” Top Selling NFL Player Jerseys on NFLShop.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

Wagner, Kurt. “The NFL Is Already Selling Jameis Winston’s Jersey — But Only on Twitter.” Recode. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 06 May 2015.

Wright, Michael C. ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

Wyatt, Jim. “Marcus Mariota Gives Titans Instant Buzz.” The Tennessean. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.