Russian Military Buildup on Disputed Isles Clouds Resolution of Row with Tokyo

russia-japan

 reports: Even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed their recent agreement on joint economic activities on four disputed islands off Hokkaido is a step toward resolving the territorial row, the islands’ strategic importance for Russia is likely to continue complicating the decades-old issue.

Even if the agreed economic cooperation chiefly in the Russian Far East makes headway, the strategic importance of the Russian-held islands, claimed by Japan, bodes ill for Tokyo in its efforts to regain them, especially given the advance of China in the Arctic region and Russia’s need to maintain its nuclear deterrence, according to some analysts.

Japan claims that Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group are an integral part of its territory and were illegally seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II in August 1945. Russia maintains the Soviet Union took the islands legitimately as the spoils of war.

Russia has been modernizing its military on the islands, which delineate the southern edge of the Sea of Okhotsk where Russian nuclear submarines are deployed. Read the rest of this entry »


New York’s Taxi Cartel Is Collapsing. Now They Want a Bailout. Tell Them to Stick It.

The free market: best anti-monopoly weapon ever developed.

“In New York, we are seeing a collapse as inexorable as the fall of the Soviet Union itself.”

Jeffery A. Tuckerjeff writes: An age-old rap against free markets is that they give rise to monopolies that use their power to exploit consumers, crush upstarts, and stifle innovation. It was this perception that led to “trust busting” a century ago, and continues to drive the monopoly-hunting policy at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department.

No more standing in lines on corners or being forced to split fares. You can stay in the coffee shop until you are notified that your car is there.”

But if you look around at the real world, you find something different. The actually existing monopolies that do these bad things are created not by markets but by government policy. Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.

For generations, economists and some political figures have been trying to bring competition to these sectors, but with limited success. The case of taxis makes the point.

“Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.”

There is no way to justify the policies that keep these cartels protected. And yet they persist — or, at least, they have persisted until very recently.

Taxi-Driver-poster

“In less than one year, we’ve seen the astonishing effects. Not only has the price of taxi medallions fallen dramatically from a peak of $1 million, it’s not even clear that there is a market remaining at all for these permits.”

In New York, we are seeing a collapse as inexorable as the fall of the Soviet Union itself. The app economy introduced competition in a41eQn3GP4ZL._SL250_ surreptitious way. It invited people to sign up to drive people here and there and get paid for it. No more standing in lines on corners or being forced to split fares. You can stay in the coffee shop until you are notified that your car is there.

[Order Jeffrey’s book “Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World” from Amazon.com]

In less than one year, we’ve seen the astonishing effects. Not only has the price of taxi medallions fallen dramatically from a peak of $1 million, it’s not even clear that there is a market remaining at all for these permits. Read the rest of this entry »