Thursday, September 03, 2009

RTL-Day Minus 4: Coordination Games and Bastiat

From 3-news, Kiwi-land, regarding the decision of the fake "Cabinet Meeting" on Tuesday....

Roina Vavatau, an opponent to the change, says there should be a delay in implementing the rules.

“We wanted to have a delay since we were not successful with the court case,” he says. We had anticipated that the best that we want to request from the government is to delay it further.”

Mr Vavatau’s request was ignored and on Monday the rules will change, but some villages near the main port of Sa'vaii are vowing to continue to enforce driving on the right hand side - even if only on the one kilometre stretch of road in their village. Protest organisers say the change is being implemented in an undemocratic way, and some village chiefs or matai's will ignore the rules.

Samoan Community Leader Litea Ah Hoi says the village chiefs want to maintain there local authority. “They are very proud to retain their position of authority even to the extent of defying central government,” she says.

Samoan leader Fa'amatuainu Tino Pereia says the change is positive for Samoa. “I think for Samoa it will harmonise Samoa’s driving patterns with the rest of the region,” he says.

“Not only that but also with the two significant countries of the region, Australia, and New Zealand which will then allow Samoa to have some sort of mobility within its own country.”

Mr Tino Pereira says September 7 will get off to a bumpy start but the majority off the 160,000 will eventually see sense in the change.

Many amazing claims in these quotes. First, the idea of a "region" for an island is a bit odd. You cannot drive from NZ or OZ, or Hawaii, to Samoa (and it's the same distance, approximately, with OZ being the furthest away.) Thus, by far the cheapest cars are the CARS YOU ALREDY HAVE. All of these are Left Hand Drive cars.

There are NO car-carrying ferries from OZ, NZ,or HI. Not one. And shipping cars 4000 miles is about 10% more expensive than shipping them 1000, on a bulk carrier. Just not a consideration. The expensive part is loading and unloading.

So, "mobility within its own country" suggests staying with the existing system.

As for "maintaining there local authority" (that is THEIR typo, not mine), this is coordination game, AND a power struggle. But if everyone else switches, the threat to stay on the right side of the road is not credible.

Finally, I am reminded of Bastiat's famous observations on the broken window, chapter 1 in "That Which is Seen and Not Seen." Bastiat addresses the argument that a broken window is a good thing, because it creates new business for the glazier. Bastiat goes on to say, "what will you say, disciples of good M. F. Chamans, who has calculated with so much precision how much trade would gain by the burning of Paris, from the number of houses it would be necessary to rebuild?"

It is true enough that forcing people to buy new cars, and new buses, and make other changes, will create the appearance of economic activity. What we won't see is the business, and work, and activity, that WOULD have taken place without this ridiculous in-kind tax.

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