Russia's been learning the wrong lessons about capitalism: The city of St. Petersburg is going to foot the bill for about half of the construction of a 1000-meter skyscraper. It's always bizarre to see what people think is a good idea when someone else is forced to bear the risks. Making the taxpayers fund the cost of a building allows the well-connected people to reap the benefits without bearing all of the risks. That's a lot like the Soviet war planners who were going to send ground troops into areas they'd just nuked.
Here's a kind of story that goes under the radar (but shouldn't): Coca-Cola expects China to become its number-one market in the next few years. Surprising? Not really. But it's not the kind of story we hear much about, even though it's vastly more important than whether Britney Spears has custody of her kids.
Following up on the news that California's housing market is in the toilet, some thoughts on the cost of living and why it matters: When the cost of living even at a subsistence level is two and a half times higher in a place like San Francisco than it is in the rest of the country, that's a sign one-size-fits-all policies just don't make a lot of sense in a country as diverse as the US. On a related note, sky-high housing prices ought to be a sign to people in some parts of the country that those places are just too crowded for their own good.
Airport security screeners in San Francisco caught a lot more fake bombs in tests than the screeners in Chicago and Los Angeles. The only difference we know of? The screeners in San Francisco work for a contract firm, while the ones in LA and Chicago are TSA employees. While it's tempting to overstate the case, it's probably reasonable to say that the contractor could teach a few lessons to the operations in Chicago and LA. They're clearly doing something better in San Francisco. It might -- might -- have something to do with the fact that the contractor at SFO bears more of the risk: If they're found to fail at their job too often, they could lose the contract and be put out of business. That can't happen to a Federal agency.
Keywords in this show: airports • California • China • Coca-Cola • cost of living • crony capitalism • economic development • housing • privatization • Russia • security • skyscrapers • USSR • war planning