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Interesting thoughts here. One quick reaction is that a better strategy to keep high performing students from transferring would be to increase the amount of the scholarship for higher grades, rather than cut it for lower ones. Using the current contingent scholarship as a means of keeping people could backfire as you create extra stress for the law students during their first year, which is bound to leave a bad taste in the mouth of even the top performers (which will in turn hurt your donations from both top and other performers). This really seems more clearly linked to getting high potential applicants in the door in the first place. It also seems like a strategy you can't pursue for too long if you want to have any future donations.
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Good. I like it. So maybe the real effect of a mammoth Google search/publisher would be that people with uncertain interests will tend to read more drivel. This falls completely in line with my comment to Anne's post. There will be some shift in market share, from great books / classics to new rerun drivel, as well as, I'm sure, in other directions. I can't accept that there won't be a backlash, however, and probably mirroring the current situation in the movie industry (as you so aptly pointed out). So long as there's a demand for interesting, well-written literature, somebody will innovate and place it in people's hands. We might see small publishers focusing entirely on niche genres (just like Aspen or other educational publishers), because they can reduce the editing/filtering costs, after which they'll look for a Google or Amazon to pick up the publishing. I agree that the movie industry is not the optimal model, but it's tolerable. There will still be plenty of good stuff for the average reader, though the three-books-an-hour reader may run out of good new material. One counter-argument to this might use the law review model to suggest that reducing the filtering/editing costs might result in easier publishing for big names and harder entry for newcomers. That is, double-blind (?) peer-review journals do a much better job of filtering content, selecting content for content's sake, whereas law reviews are inherently flawed by their inability (or unwillingness) to fully explore and evaluate all submissions based entirely on their content rather than credentials.
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Anne—here's a good, short article that supports your comment: http://mooreslore.corante.com/archives/2005/10/21/economic_lesson_of_google_print.php.
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Anne, Google actually does post ads on the book search pages (at the side of the search results page and at the bottom of the page when you click on a book). Also, Google benefits from the project because Google wants people to think of Google EVERY time they want to search for ANYTHING. I also tend to think that some writers/artists/publishers/&c. will be harmed. I'm curious to know what you think about the following: Even if Google Print increases the aggregate sales of books, some consumers will inevitably purchase certain books they find on Google Print instead of books they would have bought otherwise had they just visited Amazon or Borders (i.e., the Google best seller list will be different from the Amazon list because the nature of the system is different).
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Wayne—what do you think about the idea that a search engine/publisher merger might have the opposite effect of increasing diversity by reducing the costs of promoting and distributing a book? For example, once upon a time, only the largest publishers could successfully promote a book because of the great expense of dealing with thousands of bookstores throughout the world. Google Print would only make promotion easier for the small publishers, thus increasing diversity. And if Google becomes a publishing behemoth, it could reduce the costs of publishing to the extent that the risk of publishing a bad book would be nominal. Google could also allow writers to pay their own way. Or, Google could place a digital copy of the book online and wait until some minimum number of consumers expresses interest in the book (say one thousand) before printing a single copy.
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The liability issue is less difficult, I think, than at first it appears. Current health law (and I'm sure to be butchering it) holds medical professionals to standards of care relative to how other doctors would have done the same procedure. You can't compare a specialist-nurse telemedical team to a single on-site specialist. You have to ask how a similarly constituted team would have done the procedure (which may include an inquiry into whether the team was properly constituted in the first place). We don't hold a country physician to the same duty of care as a specialist—it's the same issue. On to document destruction: Currently, doctors use hand-written charts (I'm sure some are using PDAs/&c.). Any change to these is visible. However, if we switch to electronic charts (not entirely likely) then we might see the problem of "correcting" things without a trace. This, however, is easily corrected by legally mandating software adjustments.
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A compromise. It's probably accurate to say that (in the near future) telemedicine will bring first world medicine to the third world. However, the world is not strictly divided into these two categories. We might see collaboration among underdeveloped countries and slightly more developed countries, where the cost of contracting with a better-trained doctor will not defeat the collaboration effort. For example, we might see Western Europe asisting Eastern Europe via cybermedicine. If we consider the cost advantage of preventive medicine (which is not entirely uncontroversial—see ), then we can imagine seeing more funds available in less developed countries for contracts with doctors and medical centers in more developed countries.
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For the most part, I agree with your analysis, although only to the extent that it is theoretically sound and not necessarily to the extent that utilitarianism is the proper lens for viewing policy decisions. I do have one problem with the Pamela Anderson argument, however. From personal experience I know that some secrets are not for sale. If you're right about Pamela Anderson's sex tapes being more valuable to society than secrecy was to Pamela (keep in mind, I'm aware you haven't made an empirical claim here and that it's only hypothetical), then Pamela would have sold the tape to the Playboy Channel. Obviously, there are problems with my argument, including transactions costs and, for example, "John's" inability to pay the other 100 gays the full amount at which he valued their disclosure (I'm sure there's some econ term for this), but it certainly warrants consideration before we flush privacy law.
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Claudio, I don't understand why a charitable trust biobank wouldn't destroy the biological material/info if a government granted itself access just like Google did. Google is more like a private biobank with no ongoing relationship with donors. It decided to destroy valuable data for the sake of its public image and as a matter of principle (maybe?). A charitable trust or donor-owned biobank would have all the more incentive to destroy, because it's concerned about much bigger issues (notabene, the issues become much much bigger in the case that a government begins overreaching, because otherwise farfetched concerns suddenly become more realistic).
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Anne, I'm having trouble with the pro-insurance argument. I can see why we want doctors to have this information in order to help people prevent problems down the road, thus reducing the insurance premiums in the aggregate, but I don't think we want insurance companies knowing because that would give insurance companies leverage in "encouraging" (really, coercing) people to take certain medical precautions that they otherwise might not want to take. This argument (mine and yours) depends on our view of what purpose health insurance should serve (e.g., should it be used only as a precaution against unforeseen and unforeseeable medical expenses, or as a means of paying for everyday and unforeseen expenses?). Assuming we don't plan to change the way people currently use health insurance, we wouldn't want insurance companies to have the information but we would want primary care physicians to have it.
Toggle Commented Apr 20, 2006 on Isaac - Biobank robbers? at Tomorrow's Law
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