How Book Publishers Can Beat Amazon

Bob Kohn

AMAZON has caused no small controversy of late by refusing to accept presale orders on books to be released by the publisher Hachette and by understocking Hachette’s titles. These punitive maneuvers, which follow a dispute between Amazon and Hachette about e-book contracts, have led to significant delays in shipments of Hachette’s books to Amazon’s customers.

If you are wondering why Amazon would subject its customers to this inconvenience and wish to understand what’s really happening between Amazon and Hachette — and, indeed, all the major book publishers — you need to know the meaning of the word monopsony.

Curated from www.nytimes.com


 

The question we all need to ask ourselves, honestly, is whether, given what we now know, are we willing to give up the conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to? Amazon has insinuated itself into the lives of tens of millions of Americans, not only by selling new and used books in every category including textbooks, but every product imaginable, including food, and now TV, via its Fire line of products.

Jeff Bezos’ success, it seems, is based in no small part on the bullying of his suppliers and the workforce he employs.

 

To read the rest of my comment, click here.

Inventing a Failure

Paul Krugman

Last week, House Republicans released a deliberately misleading report on the status of health reform, crudely rigging the numbers to sustain the illusion of failure in the face of unexpected success. Are you shocked?

You aren’t, but you should be. Mainstream politicians didn’t always try to advance their agenda through lies, damned lies and — in this case — bogus statistics. And the fact that this has become standard operating procedure for a major party bodes ill for America’s future.

About that report: The really big policy news of 2014, at least so far, is the spectacular recovery of the Affordable Care Act from its stumbling start, thanks to an extraordinary late surge that took enrollment beyond early projections. The age mix of enrollees has improved; insurance companies are broadly satisfied with the risk pool. Multiple independent surveys confirm that the percentage of Americans without health insurance has already declined substantially, and there’s every reason to believe that over the next two years the act will meet its overall goals, except in states that refuse to expand Medicaid.

Curated from www.nytimes.com


What’s amazing, in all this, is that “Obamacare,” AKA “Romneycare,” is the very same “good” insurance one always got through an employer.

How in the world can that be bad? Oh, right! President Obama signed the legislation that expanded its reach to millions of uninsured citizens.

 

To read the rest of my comment, click here.

Springtime for Bankers

By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It’s true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels — years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.

Now Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury secretary for four of those six years, has published a book, “Stress Test,” about his experiences. And basically, he thinks he did a heckuva job.

He’s not unique in his self-approbation. Policy makers inEurope, where employment has barely recovered at all and a number of countries are in fact experiencing Depression-level distress, have even less to boast about. Yet they too are patting themselves on the back.

Curated from www.nytimes.com


“And basically, he thinks he did a heckuva job.”

The problem wasn’t so much what Geithner thinks, although that too is a problem, but what a majority of Democrats voters thought about how the Great Recession was handled up until the GOP took the House. That the Obama administration was advised by a bunch of corporate Democrats and there weren’t sufficient progressives in Congress to rein them in is the real problem. The stimulus and healthcare might have looked different.

To read the rest of my comment, click here.

What Did the Framers Really Mean?

Joe Nocera

Three days after the publication of Michael Waldman’s new book, “The Second Amendment: A Biography,” Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a killing spree, stabbing three people and then shooting another eight, killing four of them, including himself. This was only the latest mass shooting in recent memory, going back to Columbine.

In his rigorous, scholarly, but accessible book, Waldman notes such horrific events but doesn’t dwell on them. He is after something else. He wants to understand how it came to be that the Second Amendment, long assumed to mean one thing, has come to mean something else entirely. To put it another way: Why are we, as a society, willing to put up with mass shootings as the price we must pay for the right to carry a gun?


My comment on the New York Times Site:

It really shouldn’t matter what the framers meant. We live in the here and now and unless one has clinically-significant rigidity issues, we need to live by today’s mores and needs.

Logically-speaking, what is the known side-effect of a population saturated with legal and illegal weapons? How stable can a nation that is armed to the teeth be?

To read the rest of my comment, click here.

 

Curated from www.nytimes.com

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