Price Gouging: Denver Airport

A bad name for a practice in basic economics where prices are unaccountably inflated for some items.  When this happens due to severe shortages, the law often steps in to punish anyone who gets a profit from these prices.  Occasionally, the price gouge happens due to price fixing among competitors.  That also leads to high levels of consumer anger and law interventions to punish the evil-doers.

Unless the government does it.

For example, Denver build an airport even though they already had one.  Then they used regulation to force the older one out of business.  And more regulations to force airlines to send their routes to the new airport.  But the new one was hugely more expensive to get to and operate out of, so they forced customers to pay more for it.

Example:   Rental cars.  If you rent a mid sized car in downtown Denver, it will cost you $200 a week.  If you get the same car at the airport, prepare to pay twice that much.

So, get clever and decide to use a hotel free airport shuttle and rent a car from their location.  Guess what.  All airport fees apply.  It is so bad, that many hotels have discontinued operating their free airport shuttles entirely.  To get local pricing on rental cars, you have to prove you didn’t arrive at that airport within the last 24 hours.  I have no idea how they enforce this.  But I suspect it is a combination of each rental car company self-enforcing so that they can recoup their own high gouged fees from the airport authority, and a city enforcement to make sure no one is poaching.

A huge scam that takes advantage of business and leisure travelers who have the misfortune of flying into Denver instead of one of the other cities in Colorado.  Everywhere else in the country, competition drives prices down, even in and around airports.  But in Denver, you are going to pay because the payment is a tax and they are not going to let you escape the tax.

Anywhere else in the country, a slick district attorney with political ambitions would have taken a class action lawsuit against the localities that enforce this.  Not in Denver.

Posted in Crime, Economics | 1 Comment

Dear Climate Scientists

If the science is settled on Global Warming, Why haven’t you all quit and gone to work for UPS or Starbucks?  Seriously.  There is nothing left to learn about that.  Isn’t that what “settled” means?  You have done your job.  Good work.  Now get off your asses and go find a real job.  Or go get involved in one of those sciences that actually have to discover something that isn’t paid for by taxpayers and activists.  Now that we have every breakthrough in “Climate” that we are ever going to have, how about another breakthrough in Physics, chemistry or medicine?  How about “discovering” something that makes people’s lives better?

Hey “journalists”.  Why haven’t any of you ever asked this?

Posted in Current Events | 1 Comment

Investment 101, and other scams

Investment advisors are all scams.  They don’t know anything that is worth you paying them money to learn.  They aren’t better at managing your money than you are, even if you just spend every nickle you have on living it up.

  1.  Every money manager starts from this basic principle:  Give me your money.   Without that, they are nothing.  If you don’t have money to give them, none of their advice is any good to you.
  2. If a money manager were indeed magically good with money, he wouldn’t need you to give him yours.  He would make plenty of money managing his own money.
  3. Diversification is failure.  If an investment advisor tells you to “diversify your portfolio”, he is telling you, “I don’t have a clue which of your investments are bad, but if you spread them around, they likely won’t all go bad at the same time”.   if an investment advisor really knew anything of worth, he could tell you, “put your money HERE and it will make a profit”.  Diversification is planning to fail, because that is the best they can hope for since they don’t have a clue about how to succeed.  They can’t tell a good investment from a bad investment until it fails.
  4. There is no secret insider information.  Even CEOs are often the last to know that their company is tanking and if they try to sell their own stock, it will signal the rest of the Lemmings to run off the cliff.
  5. Most stocks are over-valued Ponzi schemes.  Once a stock price rises past its real worth into imaginary worth, the only way to realize a return on your investment is to find another investor who is more stupid than you were and sell it to them.  Thanks to the magic of 401(K) accounts, this happens every payday.  Every week, new money is pouring into the markets looking for stocks to buy.  But there aren’t a commensurate number of new stocks being created.  Supply-demand.  That’s why the stock market goes up no matter who is the president.  The stock market is not the economy.
  6. Internet stocks (Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Twitter, etc)  are worse than Ponzi schemes.  They are outright fraud.  Their valuation is based on warm air and unicorn farts.  A small company with no assets goes IPO and splits a hundred billion dollars among their insiders, none of whom are trading a hundred billion worth of value.  But the market needs a billion new shares to sell to put into people’s 401(K).  CHA-CHING!!

What does matter:

  1.  People you know.  Invest in people.  People will show up on a cold night to help you change a tire or hide a body deep and never speak of it again. People will watch your back, when your face is busy staring into the face of someone else.
  2. You.  You matter.  Invest in yourself.  Get Lasik.  Use that gym membership.  Invest your time and energies developing skills, knowledge and ability.  Take some classes in welding, first aid, and automotive mechanics.
  3. Enjoy your life.  Don’t save it all for a rainy day.  Some rains will simply exceed your ability to cope no matter how much you set aside.  No investment strategy can protect you from politicians taking it all and thumbing your nose at you.
  4. Real estate.  It pays to have a roof over your head.  It pays to have a known shelter and place of refuge.  It pays to keep it in good repair.  If you eventually pay it off, you have now moved into a whole new level of wealth where you can now live on a lot less.  If you manage to keep it, you now have that gift to pass along to your children so that they can know what it is like to live without paying rent or a mortgage.  This will be hard.  Everyone is out to steal this away from you.  Medicaid wants it.   Tax men want it. Developers want it.   It is not always the best investment from one year to another, but over time, you can’t beat this.  If you are looking for a wise use of your investment dollars, you need look no further than your own feet.
Posted in Economics, Philosophy, Politics | Leave a comment

The poverty of the mind

CNN is still chattering about the “Russia investigation”, collusion, and obstruction.  It’s all they have.  I suspect at this point they would love to have something else going on in the world for them to blame on Trump so they could shift focus.

The one unalterable fact is that CNN is already in the tank for whoever is running in 2020.  No matter how dull it gets, CNN is going to run anti-Trump propaganda 24/7 until the next election.  They can’t stand that they lost and they are determined to get it right next time.  They think Trump’s election was a fluke and an accident of fate, like Obama beating Hillary the first time.  They don’t understand that America is tired of their shit.

Posted in Current Events, Philosophy, Politics | Leave a comment

Puerto Rico

They voted for statehood last week.  A decisive majority of the insignificant fraction who could be bothered to form an opinion and vote cast their ballots in favor of statehood.  What does this mean?

Nothing.

Territories become state when the US Congress allows them to.  Period.  Bigger period.  Their internal votes are entirely irrelevant.  The decision to cut them loose and be independent is also not dependent on anything Puerto Rico wants.    They are a territory because they aren’t considered “grown up” enough to govern themselves, either as a state, or as a nation.  It is only reasonable that no one should listen to anything they have to say until they prove otherwise.

In fact, becoming an independent state, complete with it’s own government and the ability to pay  it’s own bills would be a good prerequisite to joining all the rest of these states.

We certainly don’t need another welfare state.  I admit this doesn’t matter much since PR is already pretty much a ward of the state for all the rest of us.

What it all comes down to is:  If PR becomes a state, The Democratic party gets 2 permanent Democrat senators and 3-5 permanent democratic representatives added to the Congress.  These will be seats that the Democrats get without even trying.  They will be automatically granted to any Democrat who has a pulse and who the party bosses choose to throw in there.  So, there is no reason why any Republican dominated government would ever vote to grant PR statehood.  Similarly, if the Dems ever get back in control of the congress, there is no reason at all to keep them from doing this.  See?  It has nothing to do with what PR wants. It never did.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

TMI: Dental exam.

Once again, the dentist said I have evidence of grinding and he recommended I buy and use a mouth guard.   I ignored him from the last ten times he or his predecessor dentists said this. But this time I asked him to show me.  He used his camera (ten year old technology) and showed me the grinded places on my teeth.  They were on the upper edged of my lower incisors.  In other words, a mouth guard would have done zero good.  Epiphany happens.  That grinding motion happens when i am awake.  It is caused by me chewing my fingernails.  Something I have done for 50 years.  This might have been good advice 50 years ago.  Or even 20 years ago.  A bit late now.  And the dentist advice was totally wrong, useless and a waste of about $200 (if I took it).  They were wrong.

I am posting this here so that the internet will now know there is a danger to chewing fingernails besides being a social pariah.  It harms your teeth.  learn from my mistakes.  Tell your kids that they don’t want to end up like this:

teeth

**(Not me.  but if you are going to scare your kids with pics form the internet, make it good ones).

Posted in Health | 3 Comments

TMI: Eye Exam

index

I just had an eye exam.  I learned something new.  They tested me for depth perception for the first time ever and discovered I have very little.

….

O.M.G.

….

Suddenly, 50 years of failure makes sense to me.  I sucked at baseball.  I couldn’t catch a ball thrown at me or hit one with a bat.  Dad just said I needed more practice.  Coaches all told me the universally accepted advice, “get behind the ball”, not understanding that “behind the ball” is exactly the wrong place for a person who has no depth perception.  Even if the ball hits my glove, the glove doesn’t close and it pops out.  There is no amount of practice that will give me depth perception.

dodge

I now know why I sucked at dodge-ball, and football, and basketball, and tennis, and every other sport with a ball or that required eye-hand coordination.  It was NEVER going to be something I could ever do well.

baseball

Add that to smaller than average hands and gripping anything larger than a softball was also going to be challenging for me.  I still struggle to control large drinks handed to me at the McD’s drive up window.

base2

This also explains why I never saw the attraction in 3D movies.  To me, they always looked like blurrier, darker versions of better movies.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would pay extra to see them.

3d

Parents.  Do your kids a favor.  Get them tested before you hand them over to a sports coach who will mercilessly try to make them good at something they are biologically incapable of doing.  Don’t torture your kids like that.  Your kids want your approval and if they have this problem, they will never get it.  You have just set them up for a lifetime of failure, regrets and “daddy issues”.

dog

Posted in Health | 7 Comments