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T. C. Boyle, Price Discrimination, and Firefighter Hysteresis


T.C. Boyle,, here.  He been doing this for 14 years.

Title Publisher Date
San Miguel New York: Viking 2012
When the Killing’s Done New York: Viking 2011
Wild Child New York: Viking 2010
The Women New York: Viking 2009
Talk Talk New York: Viking 2006
The Human Fly New York: Viking 2005
Tooth and Claw New York: Viking 2005
The Inner Circle New York: Viking 2004
Drop City New York: Viking 2003
After the Plague New York: Viking 2001
A Friend of the Earth New York: Viking 2000
T.C. Boyle Stories New York: Viking 1998
Riven Rock New York: Viking 1998
The Tortilla Curtain New York: Viking 1995
Without A Hero New York: Viking 1994
The Road to Wellville New York: Viking 1993
East Is East New York: Viking 1990
If the River Was Whiskey New York: Viking 1989
World’s End New York: Viking 1987
Greasy Lake New York: Viking 1985
Budding Prospects New York: Viking 1984
Water Music Boston: Atlantic-Little, Brown 1981
Descent of Man Boston: Atlantic-Little, Brown 1979

Felix Salmon, Reuters, Why the internet is perfect for price discrimination, here.

Price discrimination is one of those concepts that only an economist could love. But the theory is clear: the more that a vendor can discriminate according to willingness to pay, the more value that vendor can add. Rory Sutherland uses air travel as an example: having a mix of classes allows price-sensitive people to pay low fares, while the rich have a large number of flights to choose from. On top of that, he could have added, airlines are extremely good at exercising price discrimination within classes, so that two people receiving identical service might be thousands of dollars apart in the amount they paid for their tickets.

Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution, Firefighter Hysteresis, here.

Alex Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University who discussed the fire statistics on the blog Marginal Revolution, explains it in terms of what’s called the “March of Dimes problem.” When polio was defeated, the March of Dimes, started under Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat the disease, suddenly had no reason to exist. “They were actually successful, and it was something they never planned for,” said Tabarrok. “But instead of disbanding the organization, they set it onto a whole bunch of other tasks…and so it’s kind of lost its focus. It’s no longer easy to evaluate whether it’s doing a good job or not.”

This, in Tabarrok’s view, is what happened to the country’s fire departments: At a certain point, they became an organization in search of a mission. “So they ended up doing things they’re not necessarily the optimal people to do, like responding to medical emergencies.”



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