The Ashes

by Harry on August 15, 2005

I’m a firm believer that the pictures are normally much better on radio. But today I’d rather be where Norm is, lucky sod.

UPDATE: if you’re not watching or listening, and you can, you must.

A modest proposal

by John Quiggin on August 15, 2005

Britain, France and Germany are busy trying to persuade Iran to abandon efforts to develop nuclear weapons, so far with little success. Cajolery and bribery having tried and failed, how about a bit of leadership by example? Two of the three parties in this effort have nuclear weapons of their own, even though they don’t face any conceivable threat of invasion[1]. Perhaps if they agreed to disarm themselves, the Iranians would be impressed enough to follow suit.

OK, I’m joking about Chirac and France. There’s no way that France is ready to admit that it is no longer a Great Power, and certainly Chirac is not the man to start the process. But, why shouldn’t Blair do something like this? It’s a perfect example of the non-ideological willingness to embrace radical alternatives to established dogma that New Labour is supposed to symbolise. And even if it didn’t produce any immediate payoff with Iran it would have to help the cause of non-proliferation in the medium term.

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Department of You Couldn’t Make This Up

by Chris Bertram on August 15, 2005

Bribery is a good thing because it helps the bribed to learn what is best! So argues law & economics professor Thomas W. Hazlett “in today’s Financial Times”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/61a388f6-0ce3-11da-ba02-00000e2511c8.html :

bq. Payola was made famous by scandals in the 1950s, when “cash, drugs and women” were traded to rock and roll disc jockeys in exchange for airtime, but the practice has a richer history. In both Britain and the US, 19th- and early 20th-century performers ­collected side-payments from music publishing houses for singing their songs.

bq. Ronald Coase, the Nobel Prize­winning economist, explained the practice in 1979. Radio stations own something valuable: songs played more tend to sell more. Competition for airtime develops, but how one conducts the best auction – given that station revenues come primarily from selling audiences to advertisers – is complicated.

bq. One view is that radio stations should be faithful to listeners and make choices based only on their DJs’ honest musical appreciation. But how do they know what gangsta rap track is top quality? Payola helps them learn, because record companies will tend to value airtime the most for releases for which they have the highest expectations of future sales.

I’d love to read commentary on this over at “Marginal Revolution”:http://www.marginalrevolution.com/ . Tyler?