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2011 October 17 Monday
Tablets Making People Spend Too Much?

Does the iPad make impulse buying a bigger problem?

Tablets represent a huge opportunity for Bezos, not only to sell a new kind of device but also to entice people to buy more stuff. Even with only 28.7 million iPads sold, e-commerce sites say they see an increasing amount of traffic coming from tablets. Forrester Research (FORR) reported this summer that online purchases made on tablets now account for 20 percent of all mobile e-commerce sales, and that nearly 60 percent of tablet owners have used them to shop. Bezos says tablets “are a huge tailwind for our business.” Amazon once saw spikes in traffic during the workday lunch hours. Now traffic is more evenly distributed as people pick up their tablets anytime of the week, buying the books and albums they see on television and making impulsive decisions about replacing their dishwashers.

If you can call up goods to buy at a moment's notice with something you carry with you all the time it seems to me that a substantial portion of the population will be more likely to spend than would otherwise be the case.

By Randall Parker    2011 October 17 09:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2009 December 16 Wednesday
Ugliness More Costly In Urban Areas

If you are ugly and want to feel good about yourself move out to the country where you won't have to compete so much for friends.

Do good-looking people really benefit from their looks, and in what ways? A team of researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Kansas found that yes; attractive people do tend to have more social relationships and therefore an increased sense of psychological well-being. This seems like common sense, and might be why we spend billions of dollars each year trying to become more attractive. However, the study, published in this month’s issue of Personal Relationships, also determines that the importance of attractiveness is not universal; rather, it is determined by where we live.

The importance of attractiveness in everyday life is not fixed, or simply a matter of human nature. Instead, the impact of our attractiveness on our social lives depends on the social environment where we live. Attractiveness does matter in more socially mobile, urban areas (and from a woman’s point of view actually indicates psychological well-being), but it is far less relevant in rural areas. In urban areas individuals experience a high level of social choice, and associating with attractive people is one of those choices. In other words, in urban areas, a free market of relationships makes attractiveness more important for securing social connections and consequently for feeling good. In rural areas, relationships are less about choice and more about who is already living in the community. Therefore, attractiveness is less likely to be associated with making friends and feeling good.

The ability to genetically engineer children to be better looking will help enable more urban living.

By Randall Parker    2009 December 16 07:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2009 February 05 Thursday
Dumber People Want More Government

Audacious Epigone takes a look at the General Social Surveys data to find that dimmer bulbs are more likely to favor more government intervention and ownership of industry.

In each of the three response pools, the percentage of people saying the government should control the respective industry is small, on the order of 3% to 5%. When it comes to financial services, the intelligence gap is minor. For manufacturing industries, it is more distinct. But the trend is consistent--duller people are more likely to favor government intervention into private industry than more intelligent people are.

Libertarians who support open borders need to come to grips with the fact that they are stoking the fires of government intervention into the economy.

This is bad news for libertarians and free marketeers since AudEpig also finds that dumber people are breeding like rabbits. This brings to mind the Harvey Danger Flagpole Sitter lyrics "That only stupid people are breeding. The cretins cloning and feeding".

He also finds that skinny conservative religious girls are less likely to cheat on their spouses. Why does skinniness help? Less sex drive?

Get a girl you're interested in to tell you all her thoughts on God and the President. Other things equal, find a conservative girl who loves Jesus (and probably her mom and daddy, too). The same advice applies to women seeking husbands. The firmer his theism is, the less likely he is to run around on you.

His GSS posts all make for enlightening reading.

By Randall Parker    2009 February 05 11:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
2008 September 22 Monday
Many To Blame For Financial Disaster

Bankruptcy expert Wilbur Ross says the attempt to stop the financial meltdown is not addressing the problem of people who can't afford their mortgages.

"The reason I think it will take that long is that none of these actions that have just been taken make it any easier for Middle America to meet their mortgage payments -- it doesn't address that whole problem, and that problem is what really caused this to begin with."

But that is not a solvable problem, at least not in any way that Washington DC politicians would try to sell. Why? Because Americans are living beyond their means. There's no way to get from where we are to financial sanity without millions of people losing their homes that they can not afford. The financial crisis can't end until housing prices correct downward and people who can't afford their homes step down to cheaper dwellings.

Ross at least recognizes that it takes two to tango: both borrowers and lenders had to be irresponsible to get us into this crisis.

Ross said that in some ways, the financial crisis could be blamed on the American consumer for wanting to improve their standard of living without having the wages and means to do so.

"In one sense, the American consumer is the victim; but on the other hand, the perpetrator of it," he said.

But the borrowers and lenders are not the only actors on the stage. Or perhaps they are but puppeteers hover above them pulling strings. At the behest of Congressional Democrats (who wanted to lift up poor people - but ended up dragging them down) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought the subprime loans that Countrywide and other failed lenders created. Chinese central bankers bought the Fannie/Freddie bonds because the Congress made Fannie and Freddie appear like no risk bets. The Chinese central bankers were buying the bonds in order to lower the value of China's currency so that Americans would live further beyond their means and buy more Chinese goods.

The lower IQ poor people who took out unaffordable loans are the victims of the political party that sought to help them. Being of lower IQ they had less capacity to judge the deals they were agreeing to. The smart people in Congress, at the top of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in charge of assorted mortgage banks are more culpable because they are more capable. Though I wonder whether Congressman Barney Frank is capable of understanding how his own actions contributed to this disaster.

A disaster this big requires many willing participants. Unluckily many willing participants were available. Now even those not foolish enough to play will have to pay.

By Randall Parker    2008 September 22 09:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
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