November 28, 2011
Apples and Lemons

Yesterday I went out and bought myself a new monitor to use with my MacBook.

Compare and contrast my new LG LED monitor with the then state-of-the-art ViewSonic CRT I bought in 1999.

ViewSonic G810LG IPS236 V
Display Size21"23"
Max. Effective Resolution1280x10241920x1080
Dimensions50x50.7x48.8 (cm)55x35x4 (cm) (without stand)
Weight52 lbs8.8 lbs

Superior technical quality, 1/16 the volume, 1/6 the weight and 1/5 the price (even before adjusting for inflation).

I know it's apples and oranges, but what are the best examples of cost reductions + benefit improvements since 1999 in any product or service delivered by the public sector?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 28, 2011 07:00 AM | Email This
1. When the public sector starts making monitors, let us know.

Posted by: demo kid on November 28, 2011 05:51 AM
2. For the benefit of Leftist commenters here, I spent some time reflecting on the cost of the judiciary, education, fire fighters, police, transportation, military, Nancy Pelosi's travel costs, etc. I could not come up with any public service that has vastly improved, let alone while cutting costs.

Then it hit me that Democrat politicians and government agencies have saved a lot and received markedly better results by outsourcing their marketing and campaigning to the liberal media and unions. Talk about a bargain. And the media has lowered its prices for that service by so much as to almost put themselves out of business. That's dedication even Apple can admire.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 05:54 AM
3. In other words, I'd be fascinated to hear your version of how managing foster kids or keeping parks clear or teaching students could somehow have the same "productivity gains".

I guess if conservatives have their way, this would all be ferreted out to slave labor, just like electronics manufacturing?

Posted by: demo kid on November 28, 2011 05:57 AM
4. @1,

But Seatlle could not even run a successful pay toilet program? A program that could clearly be filling a pressing market need, what with the Occupiers openly defecating on Seattle streets.

How could Seattle bureaucrats ever manage to produce a successful product?

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 06:03 AM
5. We could probably clear a lot more parks and teach a lot more kids if we didn't let park workers and teachers retire at 55 with multi-million dollar pension packages in exchange for their support of ever increasing statism. Statism that assures that it will always cost far more than it should to do a similar job in the private sector.

Cleaning, clearing and maintaining parks is an excellent example of a non-essential government service that would probably see costs reduced by 90% if it was outsourced to private contractors.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 06:18 AM
6. demo kid's argument is that if you are lazy and uncreative, then you should work for and rely on government.

Oh, and that you should not even look for, let alone pay attention to, facts.

We actually have many examples of parks in this country being under private management for less money than public management cost, and getting better results for it.

Posted by: pudge on November 28, 2011 06:34 AM
7. @6: demo kid's argument is that if you are lazy and uncreative, then you should work for and rely on government.

What a lie.

My statement is quite clear: can you really compare outsourcing manufacturing jobs to managing service jobs in the public sector? Do you plan on having child labor in Asia manage DSHS case files?

Likewise, the park privatization model is great... when you have a park that people are willing to pay to visit (or when the value of the concessions is worth picking up the price of the maintenance). Assuming that it is an adequate model all of the time is ludicrous.

Posted by: demo kid on November 28, 2011 07:37 AM
8. @4: How could Seattle bureaucrats ever manage to produce a successful product?

Oddly enough, I don't quite see the private market stepping up with its own solution.

Posted by: demo kid on November 28, 2011 07:39 AM
9. You new monitor also uses much less electricity than your old one did.

(Though I do have to admit that I haven't seen an LCD or LED monitor that is as good for working with photographs as the best CRTs.)

Posted by: Jim Miller on November 28, 2011 08:29 AM
10. dk The private sector does come up with its own solution to the Seattle bureacrats. Many of us no longer patronize Seattle. Personaly I have not set foot in Seattle for years. And before retireing as a purchasing agent fount it less expensive to pay the excise tax at the local rate on purchases from out of state competitors. Even the transportation was less expensive. So yes the private sector does have its own solution.

Posted by: Red on November 28, 2011 08:33 AM
11. The problem with your analysis, Shark, is that it does indeed compare apples and oranges. Specifically, it compares a highly automated manufacturing process (monitor) versus a people-driven service environment (or should I say "should be people-driven"). The highest cost component in monitors is most likely raw materials, not manufacturing. The labor content of the manufacturing would be minimal per unit (due to automation and high-volume manufacturing runs). Whereas with most government services, you have a low volume people-involved service. So, if to make it comparable, see the commercial about the robot day-care. The labor costs are what drive most of the government services costs, although this is not all the costs. One area where government costs could come done is in technology usage (making information available on-line vice via requests that take people handling the requests). The problem is getting from point A to B requires some investment. My problem, at the state level, anyway, is that the IT investment has been mismanaged into silo's and lacks efficiency. If you want to address school costs, or government services costs, one area to address would be IT management. Why, for example, spend all that money on Microsoft products when there are comparable open-source alternatives, or even Mac counterparts that are a lot less expensive. Instead you have schools already outfitted with PC's supplementing with iPads also. Why????

Posted by: tc on November 28, 2011 08:35 AM
12. @10: The private sector does come up with its own solution to the Seattle bureacrats. Many of us no longer patronize Seattle.

And in doing so, you don't pay for many of the services that you directly or indirectly use derived from Seattle. Heck, the market that you draw on is the Seattle market, like it or not.

But one attractive element of privatization? It would show many whinging, complaining conservatives exactly what hidden costs they don't pay that are being taken up by government right now.

Posted by: demo kid on November 28, 2011 08:47 AM
13. There is no way to say this without being snarky, but, what about the school zone/red light cameras?

I've seen the reports about them causing more 'yellow' crashes, and I'm not trying to defend them here. But strictly for purposes of the question posed, I think the idea of them might fit the bill even if in practice they may not have so far.

In theory/proper practice, a camera should get the result needed for a given location (school zone for example) while leaving officers more available for patrol in areas that can only be addressed with an officer present or even a reduction in staff hours so as to meet a budget mandate.

Posted by: Brian on November 28, 2011 09:02 AM
14. I guess we will get to test Demo Kids theory after the privatization of liquor sales takes place next year. Sure, it's not an apples to apples comaparison since the State Government is continuing to do everything in it's power to increase costs and expenses related to the sale of liquor, we should be able to see just how much revenue we have been losing, year over year, since the State has controlled Liquor Sales.

Posted by: Smokie on November 28, 2011 09:13 AM
15. @13
Brian...You can give reasons for the existence of red light cameras all you like. The reality is, the cameras don't necessary give the whole picture even, in a school zone. Maybe or maybe not were kids present at the time of the so-called violation. If kids are not present, it is not necessary to crawl through an area where nobody is present or at risk. But, if the camera shows the vehicle traveling at a reasonable that is safe for the conditions of with no kids present and still give a violation ticket and fine as if kids were present then, that is an abuse of the law and a theft of a person's substance.

Bottom Line: Government use of red light cameras are far more for revenue gain and not for public safety. The people have voiced their opinion strongly against the use of red light cameras and it is the people's will that is the duty of Government to serve and satisfy and not, for Government to serve it's will over the people's will. Anything less is Tyranny!

Posted by: Daniel on November 28, 2011 09:49 AM
16. @15

Daniel, I tried to make it clear that I wasn't defending the current use of cameras. I should have made that more clear...

For school zones in particular I think cameras 'could' be used to good ends, but I'm not convinced that they currently are where in use. You're right, the camera 'could' show many different scenarios where doing 25 vs 20 (for example) is w/o any risk. However, the same could be said of construction zones or anywhere that the yellow warning lights are used. In any of the latter places, if an officer stops you for the same violation that a camera would, they won't care what the immediate conditions are aside from the visible warning signs/'re still getting a ticket.

Frankly, that people have voiced their opinion against the use of cameras is not particularly relevant to the original question. The original question posed was whether cost saving + greater benefit measures had ever been put in place by the public sector and I thought the argument put forth by the people that wanted cameras was about as close as anything could come. The fact that various (most? all?) localities have viewed them more-so as a revenue generator more than an efficiency device is beside the point for this question.

Posted by: Brian on November 28, 2011 10:24 AM
17. 16
Brian...You made your point clear enough. Your point was the cost saving value afforded by the cameras in replacing a policeman at the location that would determine if the conditions warranted the giving of a ticket for a violation of a law. The advantage of having the policeman making that determination is that he may find that you have not violated the Spirit of the Law which is Safety and therefore a ticket may not be written. This is based on the knowledge that the Spirit of the Law must first be violated before the Letter of the Law is applied. As far as, a policeman giving you a ticket no matter what the circumstances were, you have the right to bring that policeman to court for redress. Your position of simply the cost effectiveness of red light cameras over the physical presents of the police is mute. The people are interested in Justice and not just, cost effectiveness. Now, you have expanded your wish to have them in construction zones. My point is and still is, red light cameras have proved to be more abusive to the citizenry than, of service to the citizenry. The people are not, interested in being placed in such, a tight noose around their necks. Plus, there is a thing about the Freedom of using personal discretion and not having an overbearing police state commanding your every move.

Benjamin Franklin said: "Those who would trade their Freedom for Security, deserves neither".

Posted by: Daniel on November 28, 2011 11:23 AM
18. Here's a public service that has imoroved: renewing auto license tabs and driver licenses online. I've renewed tabs twice and license once in the last 3 years, and the process is fast and inexpensive, and I had the "product" within 7 working days. No more waiting in any lines at DMV. The only thing I have to quibble with is it looks like the contract license places complained to the state about loss of revenue by online filers, and this year there is a mandatory $3 filing fee that was absent last year. This also applies if you want your tabs mailed from the local government office.
One last thing: I have had the displeasure of being unemployed twice in the past 10 years, and I have to say I was impressed with the unemployment offices. You can now do most of your business online, which saves gas, and I have always found their staff to be very helpful and an asset in my job searches.

Posted by: Carol on November 28, 2011 11:50 AM
19. @17

Despite your claim to understand my point, I can't help but think that you aren't reading the comments completely.

'Spirit of Law' claims are the bread and butter of heady journals usually propped up by some special interest group. Rarely, VERY rarely does such an argument go very far in a court room and particularly with 'clear it and on to the next' traffic infractions.

I don't know about everywhere (like I said, I'm NOT defending current practice) but locally (Monroe) a person cited via camera has the same opportunity to defend themselves in public (court) as a person cited in person by an officer because an officer has to review and agree with what the camera finds.

I also made no 'wish' for cameras to be in construction zones, I was pointing out that such are monitored by officers in person from time to time and that they will cite people speeding/driving recklessly just the same if not more-so than a camera would.

I would rather have an officer/trooper/deputy making a judgement call than a camera if money were no issue, but in regards to the original question, I still maintain that an argument could be made for better defined use of cameras for some circumstances so as to get more for the money.

Posted by: Brian on November 28, 2011 11:55 AM
20. demo kid: My statement is quite clear: can you really compare outsourcing manufacturing jobs to managing service jobs in the public sector?

Exactly. And the fact that you assume you cannot significantly reduce costs and improve service by privatizing means you are lazy and uncreative.

Likewise, the park privatization model is great... when you have a park that people are willing to pay to visit

Many private parks don't require a fee for visit. Again: you are lazy and uncreative.

(or when the value of the concessions is worth picking up the price of the maintenance)

Well, yes, that is how it works. They are responsible for keeping it clean, and they do a much better job than the government does.

Do you plan on having child labor in Asia manage DSHS case files?

No, but I also don't plan on having child labor in Asia manage parks. Your dishonesty is astounding sometimes, even to me, and I expect it (and am never disappointed). I wouldn't mind having a private company manage DSHS case files. Why not?

Assuming that it is an adequate model all of the time is ludicrous.

YOU BROUGHT UP PARKS, NOT ME. It is the height of dishonesty and irrationality for you to mention parks, then when I show it works with parks just fine, you say "you can't apply the parks model to everything." I never said you could; I simply said there IS a parks model that proves you are lazy and uncreative.

Posted by: pudge on November 28, 2011 12:23 PM
21. @19
Yes, You are correct, you do have the right to contest the so-called traffic violation captured by red light camera in the courts. You do have the right to be faced by your accusers. Guess What? It is common practice by the Judges to toss any contested red light camera violation. You're spewing Crap when you say an officer has to review and agree with what the camera finds. It's the Judge reviewing the complaint that makes the determination. What do you think Judges and the courts are for. As far as the Spirit of the Law being brought up in court, it is brought up by the defendant/individual all the time and is not limited to groups.

I do agree that there is a very valid use for cameras especially, surveillance cameras. But, red light cameras, NO. They have proved far more abusive to Society than a service to Society.

Posted by: Daniel on November 28, 2011 12:34 PM
22. Can't say this is a benefit, but government has certainly become more creative and prolific in the creation of taxes, fees, and surcharges. They have upgraded their systems so that they can get those taxes from you in a more efficient manner.

King County puts parks on the ballot, gets it passed, and then a couple of years later, they cut parks funding so they can start the cycle all over again.

What other organization, public or private, would glean through over 3,000 candies to categorize them as taxable/non-taxable based on their ingredient list?

Look at the phone bills, tab renewals, and the B&O tax breakdown. After seeing these, it is quite clear that government is not here to provide goods and services, they are here to find ways to tax the public.

Is the government the best at itemization and billing? Probably not, they take a back seat to the medical industry on that.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on November 28, 2011 01:02 PM
23. @21

I specifically noted that I only have local knowledge and was predicating my statement on such.

The following is just one example of where I drew the information from.

Pay particular attention to the part that says "An officer will review each violation before issuing a ticket."

It may be common practice for a judge to toss disputed charges resulting from the use of such, but in my first albeit brief search, I can't find out if that's a problem with how the cameras are currently implemented or if it's a problem with the use of cameras period.

I get that "spirit" arguments are brought up in court all the time. I should have made more of an effort to clarify that I usually see such in political journals more than being cited as examples of a charge being dropped, which was the point I intended to make. I often forget that forums aren't a substitute for in person conversations and therefore what might have been clear in person may not be in print. I apologize for that.

I agree with your opinion regarding surveillance purposes, they are certainly capable of such. I also agree that as you pointed out, in practice, they have proven far more abusive than useful. However, because of what CAN be done with them, I still am not willing to rule out the idea of BETTER/BEST practice for them.

Posted by: Brian on November 28, 2011 01:05 PM
24. Apparently demo kid is not aware that many cities have gone bankrupt and had to eliminate services altogether, for example Vallejo, CA. Or gone the opposite route, like Sandy Springs, GA and privatized.

Whereas Vallejo has had to cut services to a minimum hurting every one of their citizens, Sandy Springs is actually offering more services and keeping taxes flat.

Privatization works. But it scares the hell out of statists like demo kid, because if Democrats don't have public employees, unions, victim groups, hand maidens and other willing dupes to perpetuate their myths, they don't stand a chance of survival.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 01:25 PM
25. @20

Yeah, I read your provided link. What a bunch of phony Pap. They tell you that an officer will review each violation before issuing a ticket. Whether, that is true or not, it is designed to give pause to the victim from going to court to contest the ticket. Like, it takes a trained officer to determine if a violation has occurred. If average joe public is required to know traffic laws in order to get a license to drive then, the average city clerk is more than qualified to make such, basic determinations and not waste taxpayers money by having an officer that should be out on the streets doing the job he was trained to do yet, doing a clerks job. Another part of the Pap is to let the victims know that such violations will not become part of the driver's record and not be reported to the insurance companies. In other words they are doing everything they can to persuade the victim it is not worth his time to go to court and to just, pay the $124 fine. After all, it is the money that the City is interested in and not in public safety. Nothing more and nothing less. Only, a Liberal, after it has been explained to him, wouldn't be able to grasp the game-play that the Cities are more interest in enriching themselves at the Citizens peril and using the red light cameras as a tool/means to steal more from the Citizens. Such, a Deal!

Final Note: There is more Liberty and Property/Money stolen by Government from Society under the guise, it is for the good of Society than, any other method.

Posted by: Daniel on November 28, 2011 01:54 PM
26. @25

In a matter of hours I've been put in the position of defending a tool that I had no intention of defending in the first place but for the purposes of the original question.

After comparing your earlier comments to your last,I'm no longer certain what your argument is, I'm thinking you just saw some buzzwords along the way that may not fit your vision of the way things should be and took whatever position was opposite regardless of relevance or merit. Fair enough I suppose.

Posted by: Brian on November 28, 2011 02:19 PM
27. removing arab dictators:

saddam (hundreds of billions)
qaddaffi (tens of millions)
mubarak (tens of millions)

Posted by: dinesh on November 28, 2011 03:05 PM
28. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) meets your criteria.

For more details, read the book Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours, by Phillip Longman.

The book is available in e-form so you should enjoy reading it on your MacBook.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 03:21 PM
29. Here's another one; helping the needy more efficiently.

Corporate Banks are people too.

Secret Fed Loans Helped Banks Net $13B

The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn't mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed's below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 03:29 PM
30. Weather forecasts are more accurate, more detailed, and much better disseminated than in 1999.

You can search the Seattle Public Library catalog, reserve items and have them sent to your local library, renew items, and download items online.

You can find Metro bus schedules and track individual buses online.

You can track crimes and see where registered sex offenders live (or at least claim to live).

Emergency 911 service is constantly getting better; I'm not sure what's changed since 1999, but I know that E911 handling of mobile calls has been greatly improved.

A lot of information about our government, including legislation, is online, and many government organizations can easily be contacted online.

You can find your property tax history, renew your business license, file and pay your taxes, pay parking tickets and moving violations, and conduct many other transactions with government online.

All the above represent significant improvements in government service. They don't all involve reduced costs; few services (public or private) have gone down in cost the way electronic goods have. Even you admit this is a misleading comparison.

Posted by: Bruce on November 28, 2011 03:35 PM
31. You want cost reductions? The cost of the US government -- wars, welfare, and everything in between -- has been reduced from 30 percent of income to 18 percent of income for the 400 wealthiest Americans (from 1995-2008, What a deal!

Posted by: Bruce on November 28, 2011 03:42 PM
32. Here's the counter to Public Sector = to or greater than Private Sector:

"Deregulation and the newer information technologies have joined, in the United States and elsewhere, to advance flexibility in the financial sector. Financial stability may turn out to have been the most important contributor to the evident significant gains in economic stability over the past two decades."

Remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan - October 12, 2005

Nobody is going to argue that, are they?
The Private Sector RULES the Public Sector when it comes to managing the financial sector for economic stability!

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 03:52 PM
33. @30,

I would actually be for spending tax dollars in some e-initiative areas like tracking buses online, paying all permits and fees online, etc. These services do generally serve a great number, and are worth the investment so we can eliminate paper pushers and sell off government real estate. However, the actual back end implementation of an e-service should be and often is conducted by contractors and other third party private entities.

Case in point is Tacoma. About 10 years ago Tacoma invested in fiber, routers and other network technology and billed itself as America's most wired city. Because they did it in house, their technology quickly became as out-of-date as Stefan's old monitor. Now Tacoma's network is far behind that of other third party networks, and just as expensive to maintain. If Tacoma had instead selected private data centers, contractors and network providers, the city would have been able to grow with the new technologies implemented by those providers as they continually updated to serve the needs of private sector businesses. Instead they are stuck on old equipment, and losing customers continually to Comcast.

The only place government should be involved is in bridging the gaps between entities without the authority to do so, such as with police and the military, and in regulation.

As soon as the government tries to mow lawns, provide toilets, provide accounting, run data networks, or educate kids, it fails miserably and at a much higher cost.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 03:56 PM
34. I wonder. Would government be more, or less efficient if they too had to abide by Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and a host of other financial regulations that government imposes on the private sector?

If I purchase a product or service from the private sector, I get the advantage of all the enhancements and innovations they created. If I don't buy their product, I don't get those advantages, but I also didn't spend the money.

With the public sector and all the money it removes from the private economy, I might get to take advantage of all the automated ways to pay the taxes and fees more efficiently, or I might get to partake of some of the other services the government offers, but if I don't use those services, I still pay for them. As a matter of fact, with defecits, my grandchildren are going to pay for the services I didn't use and that will not be available to them.

To sum it up: the private sector always strives to give you more for less; the public sector always ends up giving you less for more.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on November 28, 2011 04:06 PM
35. The correct answer to Stefan's challenge is battery and bulb life in LED flashlights.

Or maybe cost per image in digital cameras.

I've never seen such a crazy diversion of a topic.

And I've been watching for quite a while.

Stefan, were you doing a stealth taunt to fire up the notion that everything is politics ?

Posted by: Bart Cannon on November 28, 2011 04:07 PM
36. @33 Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 03:56 PM,

"I would actually be for spending tax dollars in some e-initiative areas like tracking buses online..."

Been done. Thanks. Use it daily.

King County Metro: Tracker provides real-time bus information for a specific time or geographic area.

OneBusAway: We want to make it easier to use public transit by providing easy access to schedule and real-time arrival information for the buses and trains you ride every day

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 04:20 PM
37. @31,

But Bruce, read this analysis on why it is Entitlments and not Tax Cuts that are widening the wealth gap.

Of particular note for irrationally anti-WalMart nut MikeBS, is that costs of goods at WalMart, like Stefan't example of the LCD have been steadily falling. Whereas the cost of goods at higher end stores have been steadily increasing.

MikeBS should be boycotting Whole Foods and other premium retailers, after all MikeBS, why doesn't Whole Foods just give its nutritional organic food to the poor? But instead he just hates WalMart.

WalMart is a business that has done far more for lower income Americans. The same Americans that MikeBS pretends to champion, and thinks he is helping by voting Democrat. Nope.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 04:29 PM
38. @37 Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 04:29 PM,

I'm not anti-Wal*Mart Jeff. I'm pro local business.

I don't boycott WholeFoods.
I buy my food from a local grocer that I partly own, PCC Natural Markets.

To the best of my knowledge, no-one has ever been pepper sprayed while shopping at PCC Natural Markets.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 04:39 PM
39. @36,

I know, I use OneBusAway app all the time. BTW, it failed miserably during the snow storm of a couple years back because it does not actually track the buses, but instead mileage based on wheel rotation. The King County and Seattle governments squander so much money on other useless stuff like Light Rail to nowhere that they have not been able to upgrade the buses to provide full GPS tracking.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 04:47 PM
40. @37 Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 04:29 PM,

"like Stefan't example of the LCD have been steadily falling."

A lot of things have been "falling".

15 U.S. factories close each day on average

The data shows there were 398,887 private manufacturing establishments of all sizes in the United States during the first quarter of 2001. By the end of 2010, the number declined to 342,647, a loss of 56,190 facilities. Over 10 years, that works out to an average yearly loss of 5,619 factories. Dividing that by the 365 days in a year produces a 15.39 average daily number of factories lost.

It was 1995 when the last American TV manufacturer shuttered its doors in America. Now Stefan and I both use LG, although my LG E2381VR-BN 23-Inch Super Slim Widescreen LED LCD Monitors are superior and cost less at the local mass market retailer, :-)

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 04:55 PM
41. @39 Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 04:47 PM,

I didn't have an iPhone in December 2008, but it would not surprise me that if a OneBusAway iPhone app even existed it would not be perfect 18 months after the technology came out. The approximation seems to work well enough for me.

Probably you just don't know, but it is kind of tough on the publicly funded transit agencies to invest in technology upgrades right now. The economy rather sux. Tax receipts don't match the needs of the state and local government. Guess you'll just have to do your part and suffer while you (and I) ride the publicly subsidized mass transit system.

By the way, how much did you pay for your OneBusAway application?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 05:11 PM
42. Re: 34

Furthermore, when one company improves its product and/or service its competitors strive to do the same or better - and the consumer ALWAYS benefits.

The one segment of free America that has forgotten that is the health care industry ... although what we have is infinitely better than what Obama/Pelosi forced upon us. I broke a couple bones in my hand 2 weeks ago. I got a SAME day appointment with the orthopedist of my choice for an xray and cast. ONE week later I needed a new cast: I walked into the office and was seen by the cast tech within 15 min. I had to laugh yesterday as we were coming back across the Blaine border; there was a sign that said YOU ARE LEAVING A FREE HEALTHCARE AREA. Psst. you get what you pay for.

Also, re the car tab renewal. The website may be run by the state, but the service comes from a private agency, hence the $3 fee for it.

PCC Natural Markets. So let me get this straight. Mikey irritates us with his trolls, he insults our ideology and ideas then has the gall to ADVERTISE HIS BUSINESS in hopes of gaining new customers. Pardon my laughter. What gall.

Posted by: RagnarDanneskold on November 28, 2011 05:40 PM
43. @42 RagnarDanneskold on November 28, 2011 05:40 PM,
By your logic the competition between the Republican McCain and the Democrat Obama led to you benefiting, right?
And by extension you have also personally "ALWAYS benefited by the selection of a Democrat as Washington state governor for lo these 30 years, right?

Reasonable people can disagree, but there are other things We the People are other than only consumers.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 05:53 PM
44. Mike BS --

OneBusAway was not created by Metro but by an individual.

I paid nothing for it, but I do pay hundreds if not well over a thousand a year to subsidize other peoples commutes on public transportation infrastructure that is of nearly no use to me personally. (In the 8 1/2 years that I've lived here I've taken exactly 2 bus trips).

As of today, your LG monitor is the same list price on Amazon as mine was at Best Buy, but without the added shipping costs.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on November 28, 2011 05:53 PM
45. @40, because of union protectionism that has artificially inflated the cost of US labor, thus driving it overseas. I'd love to see TVs made here again. But some nut like you, who ironically uses an LG monitor every day, would be protesting the environmental dangers of having a manufacturing plant in your town. And then you'd protest that people were gasp, being paid what they were happy to get to work in that factory, as being too little.

@41, unfortunately, $0. And I bet if he charged for the app, it would be much better, because he could justify spending more time adding features. I also write software. I wrote an application that many people pay for. Some people come to me whining and ask them why I charge for my apps. I ask them what they do for a living and then ask them if I can have that for free. Then I tell them how many hundreds of hours of my time it takes to support the app each year. Then they go away.

I don't agree with the fact that the programmer gave One Bus Away out for free, but it is the only alternative for Seattle Bus Schedules at this time. Richard Stallman is an asshole.

BTW, if unlike Richard Stallman, Seattle acted like Steve Ballmer and charged what it actually cost to run the bus system, then they would have enough money to upgrade the buses to GPS, police the bums, the vandalism, and the other problems on the buses, buy new buses, etc.

But no one like you gets real value in Seattle, because Seattleites like you have been listening to people like you for too long Mike. You want things that are valuable to be free, and things that are worthless to be valuable. You've got the world and human nature upside down.

That's the essence of a Leftist. And that's why you spend so much time commenting (ok trolling) here. Because somewhere deep down you know you have it backwards. So you have to spend your time here arguing with us to justify to yourself that you have it right, even though you don't. Go away.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 05:57 PM
46. @44 Stefan Sharkansky on November 28, 2011 05:53 PM,

I can't speak for Jeff B., but I appreciate the subsidy. It is one of the reasons I choose public transportation as the cost effective way to commute.

And as an Amazon Prime member, I pay no additional shipping. FYI - your link shows the monitor at $249 at Best Buy, the superior model I bought at is currently $239. I paid $199 per when I bought mine.

@45 Jeff B. on November 28, 2011 05:57 PM,

Even if we assume it was the high cost of union labor and the tree hugging activists which drove Zenith Electronics Corporation to first move then sell its stake in TV manufacturing to the Korean LG, how exactly do you explain Zenith filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy 4 years later and after those obstacles were removed?

And I bet you didn't know that LG Electronics is highly unionized (which is why I bet Stefan bought LG and not the non-Union Samsung) AND Korea has government run national health insurance. Kinda blows your mind, huh?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 06:15 PM
47. Stefan writes, "OneBusAway was not created by Metro but by an individual."

Yes, an individual grad student at the state-funded University of Washington, with a National Science Foundation grant, as a front-end to the MyBus tracking software developed by UW's Intelligent Transportation Systems Group, using hardware installed on King Country Metro buses. Good thing the government wasn't involved!

Posted by: Bruce on November 28, 2011 06:57 PM
48. Bruce, cut Stefan a break today. He chose the Korean monitor made by a unionized shop, and bragged about it how good that monitor is.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on November 28, 2011 07:14 PM
49. JeffB@45 suggests that if "Seattle acted like Steve Ballmer and charged what it actually cost to run the bus system, then they would have enough money to..."(long list of enhancements)

Are you suggesting that Seattle should charge its city bus riders as much as Microsoft charges its employees to ride its luxury buses?

Did you know those Microsoft buses are free?

(Sure, they're supported by a private employer, not taxes. But if your point is that people get what they pay for, you've chosen an odd way to make it.)

Posted by: Bruce on November 28, 2011 09:05 PM
50. Mikey @ 43 - I have no idea what the heck you are talking about, but I suspect insanity (yours) because clearly you don't either.

Please let us know how many new customers you get from SP. [/skepticism]

Posted by: RagnarDanneskold on November 28, 2011 09:19 PM
51. Mike BS -- I know what I paid for my monitor -- regular price is $249, but it was on sale through Sunday for $179.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on November 28, 2011 10:22 PM
52. Bruce: The cost of the US government -- wars, welfare, and everything in between -- has been reduced from 30 percent of income to 18 percent of income for the 400 wealthiest Americans ...

Yeah, speaking of "misleading comparisons."

Posted by: pudge on November 28, 2011 10:36 PM
53. How about GPS? Can't get much better than free. Nautical charts provided by NOAA are now computerized and work pretty damn well. Court documents in many jurisdictions can now be filed for free electronically, saving messenger fees. You can also search court records on the internet instead of having to go to the court. This is an easy game.

Posted by: Wayne on November 29, 2011 12:33 AM
54. Wayne: you know much about GPS? It wasn't made for us, it was made for our military, and they tried to prevent us from accessing it. It's not a free service they made for us, it's something they made for themselves that they give to us because they had no other choice. And government is in the process of screwing it up ... hopefully Lightsquared will be killed off, despite Obama and his cronies' attempts.

As to providing information online ... I don't see what point you're making. We all recognize the need for government-run courts. And court information is our information. Them providing it is not so much a service, as it is their obligation to a free people. So what?

You think this is an "easy game" because you don't understand the rules.

Posted by: pudge on November 29, 2011 05:38 AM
55. Gee...Wayne, who do you think has paid for your free GPS and are continuing to pay for everything that you think you are getting free from Government? Yeah, that's Right! The Taxpayers.

Posted by: Daniel on November 29, 2011 05:44 AM
56. Then there is this example of Government "investment " Strategy.

Posted by: Smokie on November 29, 2011 07:16 AM
57. I thought the "rules" were to identify government services that had gotten cheaper and/or better since 1999. I don't see why the fact that government is supposed to do these things matters given the question asked. It seems like you don't like the "rules" so you are changing them.

Posted by: Wayne on November 29, 2011 08:11 AM
58. For an example of where Government has been improving, check out what NAVSEA and the Naval Shipyards have been doing the past decade in regards to maintenance efforts and implementation of LEAN. You don't see the multi-year huge overalls on carriers, for example. Instead, it is highly functional, small, incremental availabilities that allow the Navy to get by with less overall number of carriers and still meet their mission. This work has been largely driven by government employees, including the workers on the decks themselves that perform the work.

The problem is this effort (using LEAN, for example) needs to be broadened to non-military organizations. By focusing on the seven wastes and things like value-streams, all government organizations can get more efficient and effective and deliver the same (or often better) service at less cost. I know Gingrich has mentioned Six-Sigma. This is wrong. He should focus on LEAN, which has proven itself.

Posted by: tc on November 29, 2011 10:42 AM
59. While slumming in the half-vast wasteland of I found this:

Mark bennett "Mark" of portland OR totally and uncharacteristically gets McCarthy and Evans wrong in his review, but the subsequent discussion saves his day. The other Mark, LaRochelle, worked with Evans and understands why, after all these years, Joe McCarthy matters.

Assuming there is a Mark bennett and assuming there is a portland OR, lower-case-b bennett is mostly worth your time. Many useful reviews and many useful views. And he proves beyond reasonable doubt that SpellCheck is for sissies. If bennett writes that the relevant word is relivant, that's good enough for me.

Posted by: off-topic troll on November 29, 2011 11:25 AM
60. MBS:

Nobody is going to argue that, are they?
The Private Sector RULES the Public Sector when it comes to managing the financial sector for economic stability!

Anyone that arguing FOR the public sector and trying to deride the private sector is a certified Communist. Admit it - you are.

Posted by: SmoledMan on November 29, 2011 03:30 PM
61. By the way, PCC is the most expensive place to buy groceries in town.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on November 29, 2011 05:53 PM
62. #1: No monitors, but they are supposed to be turning out educated kids. I see no proof that kids in K-12 are better educated and for less money. Drop-out rates terrible.

Posted by: Michele on November 29, 2011 06:09 PM
63. Michele, again apples to oranges. Today's kids are educated differently, they know how to use and are comfortable using computers. What this means to today's businesses I'm not sure, but they might be more valuable as employees than a lot of folks.

I graduated a Valedictorian, but each year I see dozens of kids graduating from the same school whom I am jealous of what they have learned.

I'm not saying that since 1999 they have received more value than the increase in cost, that would take some effort to calculate. Then again, Viagra was $7 a pill back then and now if your insurance doesn't pay for it, you only have to come up with a buck.

Posted by: doug on November 29, 2011 09:53 PM
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