I am in search of a cell phone, after years of being the only human without one. Here is a formalization of things I look for in the phone:
(***) - must have
(**) - should have
(*) - would be nice to have
The gadget should integrate cell phone, PDA, camera, and desirably MP3 player, FM radio, and a USB keychain.
(**)MP3 Player and Radio
In his post "I do not approve", and other posts including FDAReview.org, economist Alex Tabarok advocates abolishon of FDA. Although I agree with almost all of his assumptions, I am against disolving FDA.
Background: FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is a government agency that aproves medical drugs and devices after a torturous, overly bureaucratic, often irrational process that makes sure everything has been done in order to make the device or drug safe and effective.
I have worked for two medical device companies, and I can tell you that the pressure on engineers to make the product available for sale can be enormous. If you have CEO's one million dollar bonus (or stock option) hinging on delivering the product by the end of the year, a lot of decisions are being made to justify using an unsafe device on a patient.
The reputation system Mr.Tabarok proposes is a nice idea, but it is subject to the same problem as our political voting system: how will reputation of a drug (or a politician) scattered among patients and doctors spread througout the country affect other potential buyers (voters) when confronted with centrally coordinated, extremely well funded media campaign of the drug producer (politicaly party)? You will find out that buyers will listen to TV comercials with doctors claiming that the drug does wonders. Just as you find that the political party with more money wins elections (otherwise Ralph Nader would take more than 3% of the vote).
Drugs are different from consumer electronics, and the same free market principles cannot be easily applied to maintain safety. People are forced to buy drugs, otherwise they die. Denying oneself of a drug has much graver consequences than not buyin a new flat screen TV.
I recommend reading proposals at FDAReview.org. They go into more depth than my assertions here. In spite of my skepticism, I sincerely hope that we could live safely without FDA.
I have been following discussions about economics and privatization of Social Security. What might be a streight forward economics, it was a revelation to me that Social Security is no better and no worse economically after being privatized. (In short, Arnold Kling explains that obligations would just shift from future's taxpayers to today's retirees). So the reasons for or against privatization cannot be based on economics.
So here are my reasons why NOT to privatize Social Security:
Also, we have very different propensities to save. Given the huge need for savings, what this could lead to is a world where the savers subsidize the spendthrifts. I don't think it's fair that if I consume temperately and save carefully for future contingencies that I should then be viewed as a "soft target" for soak-the-rich tax policies. I want to force other people to save, so that they do not come whining to me (or to the government) when they don't have money to pay their health bills when they get older.