Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, January 19, 2018

Four News Items

1. An article in the Weekly Standard suggests at least a partial answer to the question, "Why are Iranians protesting now?"

Protests in Tehran. (Image via Wikipedia)
Obama, who has made a number of political pronouncements since leaving the White House a year ago, has said nothing about the unrest in Iran. It's a repeat of his performance as president in 2009, when the Green Movement sprung up to protest what appeared to be the fraudulent reelection of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The regime violently quashed the demonstrations, killing at least 110 people and jailing 10,000 in the course of nine months, but Obama remained silent, much to the disappointment of the protesters, who chanted a rhyme in Farsi, "Obama, Obama, are you with them or with us?" His retirement has not gone unnoticed in Iran.

"There is also one big difference now compared with 2009 -- the Obama policy of appeasement of the Iranian regime has finished," says Shabnam Madadzadeh, a 30-year-old human-rights activist who fled Iran just over a year ago, after spending five years in prison. "Obama always helped the regime when it was in trouble. Now the regime no longer has this asset, and this has its impact on the people in the street, to realize that the international community is on their side and is not siding with the regime."
This article is also worth reading for its perspective on the nature of the revolution: Iranians "have realized that they will not be able to live normal decent lives and the economic situation will not get better for as long as the mullahs are in power," according to an Iranian expatriate who is helping organize protests.

2. Abha Bhattarai of the Washington Post describes "5 Ways the Future of Retail Is Already Here." Most interesting to me is the first, digital price displays that could allow stores to change prices quickly.
If a particular store is down to two bottles of tomato sauce, for example, a manager could raise prices until the next shipment arrives. Or, Fessenden said, "if we have a lot of cereal, we could decide to do a flash sale."
The option to pay more for an item low in stock would beat the pants off of simply having to do without. Walmart, are you listening?

There could be a downside for shoppers on a budget, though. There needs to be some warning if prices are going to go up.

3. And speaking of prices that rise by the hour, cautionary tales for anti-capitalist Americans continue to pour out of Venezuela. Here's a vignette about hyperinflation from another one:
Hyperinflation is disorienting. Five or six years ago, the 500 bolivars on the floor [of a store that had just been looted] would've bought you a meal for two with wine at the best restaurant in Caracas. As late as early last year, they would've bought you at least a cup of coffee. At the end of 2016, they still bought you a cup of café con leche, at least. Today, they buy you essentially nothing ... well, except for 132 gallons of the world's most extravagantly subsidized gasoline.
Anyone who wants socialism, thinking it will improve his life, should read this article for a start.

4. Theocrats in Florida are borrowing a page from paternalistic Democrats in their silly crusade against pornography:
Florida could declare pornography a public health risk that needs education, research and policy changes to protect Floridians, according to a resolution overwhelmingly approved by a House committee Thursday.
What's next? Warning labels? "The contents of this magazine are known to the state of Florida to cause blindness."

-- CAV

No comments: