Restaurant Lines

Mark Perry, as always, is incisive and interesting in discussing the opportunity cost for customers waiting in line for restaurants.  He points out the obvious: waiting in line is a cost to the customers.  Folks that can pay those prices have a high opportunity cost.  Why don’t they raise prices to reduce the lines?  A debate ensues over understanding the restaurant business.  I think both parties miss part of the point.  Standing in line (or waiting at your computer for the concert or game tickets to become available) puts a cost on the customer.  What they miss is that standing in line provides value to the restaurant.  People are willing to stand in line for hours to eat at XYZ.  It is the best advertising that any establishment could hope for.

It is also true that restaurants have a large fixed cost.  Filling the place all night is a good financial strategy.

Buying tickets has the opportunities for market solutions because the seats are relatively far in the future.  Restaurant seats are more of a challenge because of the short-term availability.  Pricenomics recognizes that dynamic pricing is can be part of the restaurant solution too (it has long been in play for sports).  Tuesday nights have short lines and often great specials.


Go to Burger King Soon

It has not been on our list for decades but a trip to Burger King is indicated in the near future.  You can get coupons at the link and help support an important change in US tax policy.  I don’t think You Can Have It Your Way any more but any tagline will do to improve the tax climate in the US.  Even Warren Buffett agrees.

Dr Who – Deep Breath

The Lady de Gloves and your humble scribbler attend the new Dr. Who on the big screen tonight.  The regeneration of The Doctor is a tricky thing.  It has to be true to the history and help newbies with the history.  It has to establish The Doctor as the same but different.  It has to set the agenda for the season and perhaps longer.  In today’s argot it has to set the arc of the series.  Of course, regeneration is tough on the mental processes too.  To do all of these things while entertaining us is a mighty task.  

Deep Breath, the season opener with Peter Capaldi becoming The Doctor, did all of those things admirably.  We found Strax’s blog summarizing the previous Doctors entertaining.  The arc is set although we have lots of details to encounter.  The regeneration is part fun with The Doctor’s confusion and part identifying the differences between the old Doctor and the new.  The Capaldi Doctor is a rejection of the Tom Baker and Matt Smith branch of the family.  It looks like this Doctor will be just on the John Hurt side of Christopher Eccleston but regeneration takes time.  Of course, it helps to have one of the most engaging companions ever in Clara Oswald.  Clara makes for great dialog and Dr. Who is really about talk rather than action. The scene in the restaurant and the one at the end of the show are engaging repartee.

One of the reasons The Doctor is so much fun is that it rarely falls back on the bad business people cliche.  The rest of TV and often movies becomes so predictable because the bad business people did it for reasons that rarely make economic sense.
End sidebar

Some may fault Deep Breath because it tries to do so much.  The answer is that it has to.  It does a excellent job on the exposition and entertains us too.  Do pay attention because it is an intense show.  In fact, we are looking forward to the video to see what we missed.



Butch the Bomb Train

We received a magazine today with the last page oddly title The Last Laugh because the column was on Butch the Bomb Train.  Its conclusion was to stop unsafe trains loaded with crude oil.  It did not mention approving Keystone Light (whoops, sorry, XL, but wouldn’t it be great?) but it did mention infrastructure.  

If you address the trains then you must address Keystone XL.  Perhaps there is a rational argument to be against both.  Let’s hear it but do not duck the issue.  Shutting down oil extraction in North Dakota is ducking the issue.  Shutting down oil extraction in Canada is beyond the pale.

Failure to approve Keystone XL has caused a potential problem.  Approving it will reduce the problem.  If Keystone XL is approved then it is a possibility that we need Keystone XLI (if you want to go the roman numeral route).  The success of XL would increase the probability of XLI.

Kudlow’s Insight

Friday Larry Kudlow had a great column entitled the Obama Bank Shakedown.  It is useful but not great because he points out that:

These huge bank settlements are election-year ATMs for the Obama administration. It was $12 billion for JP Morgan, another $7 billion for Citigroup, and on and on. It’s a real shakedown.

In fact, no one even remotely knows how these penalty-payment numbers are calculated. And the federal government’s disbursement of these funds is equally mysterious. As the Wall Street Journal editorial page has pointed out, a lot of money has gone to states run by Democratic governors.

The article moves beyond useful when he hammers Obama on economic patriotism.  Greg Mankiw joins in on the fund (and do read the whole thing) by recognizing that managers forgoing tax inversions are not meeting their primary responsibility to their shareholders and concludes, much like MWG (yes I have trouble with these links),

 Corporate tax inversions aren’t the largest problem facing the nation, but they are a reminder that a better tax system is within reach, and that only politics stands in the way.

What makes Kudlow’s column great is that he calls the Republicans out.  It is only a sentence but it is the crucial one: How will they respond?  MWG would like to know why they have waited so long.  The Obama led Democrats have come out against economic freedom.  Are the Republicans going to argue for economic freedom or just keep quiet?  Keeping quiet might be a political winner in November but it won’t lead to any improvements after the victory.

SWAT Expansion

We are big fans of Mark Perry but on the United States of SWAT we think the causality is a problem.  Citing a Bier’s article on the dangers of police work he agrees with Bier that

But has policing really become so dangerous that we need to arm peace officers like an invading army? The answer is no. It’s never been safer to be a cop. In fact, 2013 was the safest year for American policing since 1875 (see chart above).

It seems to us that arming peace officers like an invading army is likely to bring down peace officer fatalities.  It is a reasonable hypothesis that the technology changes including military grade equipment are related to the declining death rate.  The competing hypotheses need to be separated before the declining death rate tells us anything useful.

Accepting the equally unproven alternative hypothesis, more SWAT technology reduces police deaths, does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that SWAT-happy is good.  SWAT has financial costs and impacts on the public as well the benefit of a lower peace officer death rate.  Our casual adding up of costs and benefits leads to a recommendation for fewer SWAT teams.



Out Of The Mouths of Babes

Being who we are, the Gloves-son has a Red Sox book of ABCs.  Being where we are he also has the Brewers’ ABCs book.  The Gloves-son was visiting a perspicacious young cousin who brought to the following to her father’s attention: “Our book does not have World Series Trophy under W like the other one.”  No it does not and now the father is an especially blue, true-blue-brew-crew.  The child might not remember the conversation but we predict that the dad will always remember it.