Monday, March 28, 2011

Quotes of the day

Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.--Goethe

Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). Because these layers are basically software products with no variable costs, this is a very viable defensive strategy. In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it.--Bill Gurley

Yet while employers are subject to anti-trust laws that forbid collusions and other monopolistic practices, unions were exempt from the anti-trust laws by the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914, reinforced by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. This exemption meant that unions had the legal right to organize workers in whole industries or occupations, which would give unions some monopoly control over hiring, and the supply of workers to industries and occupations. Unions exercise this power by threatening to strike and to withhold the labor of their members. The right to bargain collectively should also be available to government workers. Yet since these workers face only limited competition from the private sector and from other governments, they should not have the monopoly power that comes with the right to strike. Regrettably, many government unions do have this option. Strikes give government unions significant monopoly power over the public purse because they can use a strike to shut down transportation services, garbage collection, and other vital public services.--Gary Becker

Last week, the Florida state legislature passed sweeping changes to the state’s law for employing public school teachers. The new regime effectively eliminates tenure for newly hired employees; requires districts to evaluate teachers based in part on student performance on standardized tests; abolishes the rule that seniority determines teacher layoffs; and lets districts establish performance-based salary schedules. ... Not surprisingly, public school teachers in Florida have vigorously opposed the changes, as have teachers’ unions in other states considering similar, if less comprehensive, reforms. The Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers’ union, has already threatened to file a lawsuit to block or overturn the law. The unions’ most frequent objection is that the state’s unilateral imposition of new work rules is disrespectful to teachers. Yet it’s the current system that treats teachers as interchangeable widgets. Under Florida’s current rules, the process for evaluating teachers is essentially a rubber stamp—it is common for 99 percent or more teachers to earn “Satisfactory” or higher ratings. The state’s teachers earn uniform pay based exclusively on two attributes: years of experience and possession of advanced degrees, criteria mostly unrelated to the quality of their teaching, research shows.--Marcus Winters

Dick Parsons is probably a great guy. But consider the fact that Obama, by increasing government intervention in the economy, is making more of these guys, and fewer innovators.--Tim Carney

... it’s a shame that tragically unhappy people don’t know when they’ve run out of useful words.--Joe Posnanski

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.--Chuck Reid

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