Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Too Many Heads

It's hard to imagine an industry with a natural monopoly (when the costs of running a business decrease per unit sold to the point that you can sell to the good's whole market). Small businesses can out compete the big guys because the management costs increase so much as you expand. Mass coordination is very, very hard which is why large companies often seen incompetent and CEOs appear grossly overpaid.

Take a simple example of the coordination problem from hot water heaters. From Inertia Wins!:
“If you turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit; you will cut your water-heating costs by 6-10 percent,” says EPA. Doing so also uses less energy.

But 120 degrees is not hot enough to kill the Legionella pneumophila bacteria. Legionnaire’s disease causes both flu-like and pneumonia-like symptoms. The disease is most often caught by inhaling the spiral-shaped bacteria via water mist, such as in the shower or near a lake or stream. That’s why OSHA recommends setting your water heater hot enough to kill the bacterium – 140 degrees.
This is a small example of why I'm not convinced by the argument that taxes are payment "for what you use up."

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