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More Room Throughout Coach

The Website of Free Miles and Free Markets


I'll help you earn free travel, but you'll have to put up with my sick sense of humor and political opinions.

Quick Grammar Quiz: Does the previous sentence imply that my political opinions are sick, or just my sense of humor?

Wednesday, July 31, 2002
So, wait a minute. I don't plan to fly any of these places, or on USAirways, or Delta. So, Mr. Smartypants More Room Throughout Coach, what good is any of this to me?

Simple. You may not realize it now, but you might catch a flight.. say from DC up to New York on the USAirways shuttle.. or maybe you're flying Northwest and your flight gets cancelled and you get put onto Delta. Will you be able to register for this promotion while running between terminals trying to catch another flight?

I didn't think so. Just register for these babies. It takes just a few seconds. It could pay off big in free travel.
Delta has another good one. Register for 750 bonus miles for each segment, which also count towards elite status.
Delta is offering double base miles on all flights between August 1 and October 15, but you have to register. What are "double base miles?" Since you asked... it normally takes flying 25,000 to become an elite flyer (which makes you eligible for first class upgrades and lots of other good things). Double base miles means that each mile you fly counts as two. Fly 12,500 miles and become an elite. Reach the next level at 25,000 instead of 50,000, too!
Glenn Reynolds suggests that a "mischievous soul should add a rider to financial reform legislation requiring candidates for office to sign a statement swearing that no illegal contributions were accepted, on pain of criminal sanction if that turns out to be wrong."

That would be cute -- but please, Glen, don't give anyone any ideas!

First, I should note that in most cases campaign treasurers are even held personally liable for campaign finance violations (that is, for FEC fines). That isn't the candidate, but it is some accountability. Actually, I would argue, it's too much accountability or more precisely it's accountability for laws which are impenetrable and incomprehensible.

Second, candidate liability would be a bad idea. It's often times at least as difficult if not more so to figure out what is or is not an illegal contribution as it is to figure out the proper way to account for expected revenue.

In the case of the Senior Senator from New Jersey, it's obvious. However, any law wouldn't be able to segregate the Bob Torricellis from the rest of the candidates who get caught in complex rules.

The biggest problem with campaign finance reform, in my opinion, is that it destroys citizen involvement in politics (and consequently becomes an incumbent protection). Only the best financed campaigns (read: establishment party-backed) can possibly comply. (See, for example, FEC Commissioner Brad Smith's talk "Regulation and the Decline of Grass Roots Politics," Catholic University LR -- if a candidate borrows money to fund a campaign, but that candidate's spouse co-signs the loan, it can constitute an illegal contribution if the loan was for more than $2000).

The suggestion might have been in jest, and it would be funny .. but a disaster.
Does Your Weblog Own You? More Room Throughout Coach owns 18.75% of me. (Link via The Volokh Conspiracy.)
Happy 90th birthday, Milton Friedman.
In a case of shutting the barn door after the horses have already fled, President Bush declared that in signing the new accounting reform bill that "the era of low standards and false profits is over." The markets have punished the offenders and are rooting out any other potential disasters. Of course, the President and Congress both feel the need to act -- to do something -- and more importantly, to appear as though they are doing something.

Question of the week: can anyone come up with an example of the federal government being proactive? That is, recognizing the possibility of a problem, legislating, and then being proven right/have the legislation prevent the problem? I'd love to hear one.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Vanguard Airlines is filing for bankruptcy. They were denied the $35 to $40mm in federal loans they were seeking. Thank goodness this airline is being allowed to die. They've been operating on less than $200,000 cash on hand for some time. They never had a profitable route system or strategy.

Unfortunately, Midway Airlines wasn't allowed to just die. It was in bankruptcy proceedings -- for the second time --- on September 11th. They suspended operations immediately thereafter. Immediately after 9/11 the feds gave direct cash payments to airlines based on previous year's traffic to make up for time lost while the nation's airways were shut down. Since Midway had been in the air the previous year, it got cash. The bailout funded the airline's ability to get back in the air. It was unfortunate, because this twice-failed airline had no viable business plan.

It turns out that Midway couldn't survive. It has suspended operations and will re-emerge as a USAirways Express carrier.
A Boston man spent 30 years in prison for a murder he didn't committ -- even though the FBI knew who the real killers were.

Monday, July 29, 2002
Bob Novak reports on what he calls a smoking gun which proves that IRS audits are used as a political tool.

Novak reports only on Democratic uses of the tool, because the e-mail in question came out of the Clinton White House. It's worth noting that the Republican Congress exercised its power in the same way.

Often Republicans and Democrats in Congress cut deals across the aisle to audit each political faction equally, which is how I understand that Citizens for a Sound Economy came to be audited some years back.
Crain's Chicago Business reports that United Airlines will start charging passengers a $20 fee to use paper tickets for trips that could be booked electronically and that it plans to have all electronic ticketing by the end of 2003.
Erin Olsen has free CDs for bloggers.

Sunday, July 28, 2002
Delta is running a contest for free Lenny Kravitz tickets which includes airfare for four to LA and hotel stay. New e-mail subscribers also get a free Lenny Kravitz CD.
Political correctness as public choice? Erin O'Connor outlines the bureaucratic machinery of the academic liberal establishment.
Upstate New York school superintendant sent to detention for public display of affection.

Saturday, July 27, 2002
Patio Pundit gives us an excellent post that explains why record store technology could have prevented a 1989 murder, and how that same technology promoted both honest markets and the development of country and rap music. Definitely worth a read.
The Washington Post carries a story about Castro's take on U.S. accounting scandals.

The piece describes how Cubans were rounded up from surrounding areas to attend the speech, and says that this was done "[w]ith the efficiency of a centrally planned socialist state."

Surely it isn't the official position of the Washington Post that socialist central planning is efficient?
1% of office romances begin in the elevator.
Probably not a good idea to send a postcard to the cops when you're no-showing a court appearance.
If you're looking to bail on WorldCom as your telecom provider, consider these deals:

Internet:Cellular service:
  • 5,000 miles for Nextel service with Delta, Northwest, United, or USAirways -- or 4 Southwest Rapid Rewards credits.
Long Distance:
Mileage offers from financial institutions:
Free miles with international programs:
Sign up for free trials at the shopping portal AirMilesMart and earn 675 on the airline of your choice.

Friday, July 26, 2002
In Ohio, a police chase ends as the suspect's leg falls off. It gets me thinking -- shouldn't the police make a reasonable accomodation for the suspect's disability? It hardly seems fair that this man should be hindered by his disability, especially when there's nothing inherent in the job of being a criminal that says a disabled man can't do it . . .
A deal to pardon murderers in Pakistan in exchange for cash and young women has unraveled.

Pakistan allows a victim's family to pardon a convict in exchange for financial compensation. I actually think this makes alot of sense. Here in the U.S., we think of crimes such as murder as "crimes against the state." The state prosecutes and the state punishes -- as though it was the state that was harmed. This practice, which strikes me as more advanced than in the West, allows the people who are truly harmed -- the families -- to be compensated instead.

The problem with this particular deal is that the parties agreed to something that was not permitted -- including young brides in addition to the cash.

Pakistani elders declared that it was simply "unethical" for a 77-year old man to marry a 15 year old. Perhaps. Pakistan apparently has some significant standards, beyond those in the West. After all, many states in the U.S. do permit marriage by a 15 year old. Heck, even Senator Strom Thurmond married an 18 year old when he was in his 70s.
Boy's Penis Stitched Back After Donkey Bite. I don't even want to speculate on how the accident happened in the first place.
A woman in Sudan is pregnant with nine babies. I don't even know what you call that.

Thursday, July 25, 2002
So I found out how that Puerta Vallarte fare happened... they meant to enter a 10% discount: TC10 (tour code, 10%). Instead they entered 10TC (10% of tour fare). Whoops. They got it backwards.
You're darn skippy that I picked up a couple of tickets for a weekend getaway to Puerta Vallarta. Turns out that the fare was good from Chicago, Newark, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Not bad, since when you back out tax you're really getting first class travel to Mexico for less than $50 roundtrip. Coach tickets run > $500. Too bad they wised up to their mistake. The window has closed. Lesson: check this website frequently for the best deals in travel.
Not free miles... free rib sauce. Answer five trivia questions and get rib sauce. Apparently the contest is run frequently. This'll be a rib sauce annuity for those of us with obscure knowledge. Oh, and if you're having trouble with any of the questions, e-mail me.
Fare glitch alert. Chicago (ORD) to Puerta Vallarta (PVR) in business class for $145 roundtrip on Mexicana. I just found the fare on Orbitz. You can earn miles on United airlines via travel with Mexicana.

Not in Chicago? Buy the ticket anyway and buy yourself a cheap ticket to Chicago. I plugged in outbound December 6th and return December 8th... haven't had time to test with other dates.. Nab this one quick -- it's clearly a mistake.
Savings bonds for miles. Purchases of savings bonds are treated as just that -- purchases, and not cash advances. Buy savings bonds directly from the government with your mileage earning credit cards (especially with Double Miles from the Delta Amex or the United Visa). Then cash them back in when they mature. It ties your cash up for a few months -- but it also earns a return and miles.
The Washington Post reminds us that the Soviet Union was evil. Mankind didn't fail socialism. Socialism failed mankind.
More on the US Airways and United Marketing Agreement. As I mentioned yesterday, US Airways has entered into a marketing agreement with United Airlines. It will allow frequent flyers from both airlines to earn and redeem miles on each airline. In addition to the benefit of earning and redeeming miles on each airline,
US Airways and United passengers will also be able to make connections between both airlines on a single reservation and use each airline's airport lounges if they are already a member of either. This partnership secures the value of USAirways miles, which were certainly in doubt, and opens up reward possibilities to Hawaii and Asia.

Dividend Miles and Mileage Plus members will be able to redeem their miles for awards on each airline, but they will not be able to combine miles from the two accounts. Another limitation is that the partnership does not extend USAirways flyers benefits to United's other partners (e.g. Lufthansa, Singapore, Air New Zealand, etc.). I do expect, however, reciprocal benefits for elites of each airline (upgrades, etc.). These benefits will probably take a couple of months to come to pass.

Another thing to expect -- United will probably sever its relationship with Delta. So, if you're a Delta flyer who wants to book a United ticket... do it now. Likewise, if you're a United flyer who wants a Delta ticket, do it now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Would that more judgest took this approach. In a defamation suit, Judge Kozinski advises the parties to chill.
So it's a codeshare. Lots of details still murky in the new United-USAirways relationship.
United and USAirways announced a marketing agreement just moments ago. Haven't found any wire stories yet... More as it develops...

Just a few random thoughts:
  • They tried this as a merger, but the government balked. That was pre-9/11 and before both carriers were in precarious positions.
  • United got pre-approval from the pilots to do this when they negotiated concessions for stock
  • USAirways is in big trouble, but they have (1) the DC-NY-Boston shuttle and (2) an extensive East Coast route network. #1 means profits and a base of frequent fliers in lucrative markets. #2 is simply a route network that United doesn't have.
  • USAirways gets a West Coast presence and (assuming the marketing agreement stretches this far) the Pacific. It also gets them frequent flyer awards to Hawaii...
  • USAirways will still ultimately have to make some serious changes. They have hub operations in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Charlotte. More or less they constantly overfly their own hubs. They aren't particularly well positioned here. If this agreement amounts to a virtual merger, there will be no reason to maintain Pittburgh and Philadelpha in addition to Chicago (United hub)... for that matter Philadelphia and Charlotte in addition to Washington-Dulles (United hub).
  • We'll see what form the agreement takes, but even a marketing agreement will have to get around some concerns since United is dominant at Washington's Dulles airport and USAirways in dominant at Washington's Reagan National airport (and used to be pretty big at Baltimore-Washington International but has scaled down some)
Like I said.. more to come.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a new form of environmental activism: stop oil production, or I'll take my clothes off!
Grad Student Deconstructs Take-Out Menu. Thanks to my friend Esta for the link. As he noted, "Someone ought to tell the folks at Social Text that this is a joke before they publish it."
Eugene Volokh asks "Who is John Galt?" and comes up with some surprising answers.
Overheard from a Ted Kennedy staffer. I always thought there was a bit more to the Chappiquiddick story than is commonly understood. Staffers in Ted Kennedy's office tell the story (after a few beers) that Kennedy wasn't driving the car. Rather, he was drunk and passed out in the back seat of the car. Mary Jo Kopechne drove it off the bridge. A drunk Kennedy managed to get out and stumble away. He didn't do anything to save her because in his drunken stupor he was oblivious to what had happened. Sad and despicable, perhaps, but not criminal in so far as he wasn't driving.
A better way to search Amazon.com -- a slimmed-down search interface.

Monday, July 22, 2002
More Room Throughout Coach is giving away free miles and first class upgrades.
The government can't even prosecute well. Looks like John Walker Lindh may serve only 13 years instead of 20, because prosecutors misread their own darn statutes.
The Washington Post reports that all "independent operators" -- i.e., people who work out of home full-time or part-time -- will face new restrictions and costs in D.C. Failure to comply by August 31 will incur fines.

This includes licensing for home-based journalists and even kids mowing lawns. What's more, very few people even know about the new requirements, because the agency that is supposed to enforce it "ran out of money" and hasn't yet advertised. (Tapped says this is enough to force a conversion to libertarianism.)

Sunday, July 21, 2002
Romance -- Quicki-mart style.
I love meat. But some things could make me reconsider.
500 United miles for joining Mileage Plus online, registering on united.com, or updating your profile. Details are available here (scroll down to the third bullet).
The first two official entries in the More Room Through Coach Link Contest are Timatollah and Deep Thoughts. Get your links in.
Blogging has been light the last couple of days because, since I last posted, I had to give a talk about health policy in Charlottesville, attend the annual reunion of Charles G. Koch Summer Fellows, and pick up my new dog. I should return to normal blogging on Monday.

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Your tax dollars workin' it. U.S. Army personnel have used government-travel charge cards at strip clubs, for Internet gambling, to buy cars, an engagement ring, racetrack betting, and even Elvis photos from Graceland. The strip clubs were even used to $38,000 in cash. The Army processed all travel card applications it received -- denying credit to no one.
This morning I called for the ouster of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta because of the failures of the Transportation Security Administration which fall under his department's jurisdiction. This afternoon, John Magaw, head of the TSA itself, was forced out. He's a scapegoat. As I indicated this morning, Mineta's comments that are hostile to the civil liberties of Americans and indifferent to fiscal responsibility mean that he is the one that must go.
What if you offered to give away stuff but nobody came? I thought my mention of a giveaway contest would draw some feedback. No emails. So, without your input, I will just boldly go . . .

With the a couple clicks and keystrokes you could get some of my goodies. You can win:
  • 1,000 American Airlines miles
  • 15 free drinks on Southwest airlines (substitutable for 2 United and 2 Continental drink coupons)
  • a USAirways club pass
  • an Alaska Airlines confirmed first class upgrade
Here's how it will work. Link to More Room Throughout Coach from your website. E-mail me and let me know about the link. At least one hit will have to come from your link (from someone other than you or your immediate family) for the link to be valid. The contest will run from now through July 31st at noon Eastern time. I will draw three winners at random from all of the entries. The first winner will get their choice from the (4) offers above. The second winner will choose from the remaining (3) offers. The third winner will select from the (2) choices that are left. Each winner will have 48 hours to respond to my offer.

Clear as mud? Any questions, let me know.
An important, if pithy, lesson. Politics treats transparency as damage and routes around it.
This post has been eaten by Blogger.
Norm Mineta must go. His financially mismanaged Transportation Security Administration is nearly out of money and he's blackmailing Congress for more funds by threatening "draconian measures" which will cause travel delays. This on top of his callous disregard for civil liberties, declaring "we will strip-search everyone, including pilots, before this is over and if they don't like it we have a nice jail cell for them."

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Holders of the United Airlines Visa should call 1-800-359-8252 to register your card for double miles on all purchases through October 31st.
RiShawn Biddle points out Larry Kudlow's bizarre claptrap that the problem with the US economy and the stock market is that we don't have enough war:

"Could it be that a lack of decisive follow-through in the global war on terrorism is the single biggest problem facing the stock market and the nation today? I believe it is...The shock therapy of decisive war will elevate the stock market by a couple-thousand points." Make no mistake, to Kudlow "decisive follow-through" means getting tough on "Iraq, Iran, and Syria, but also to Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Egypt"

War doesn't increase prosperity. Some individuals benefit in the short term (manufacturing in service of war efforts, for instance) but only by trading off with other sectors. More importantly, war grows the state and extracts revenue from the economy. Kudlow thinks the market will like this. Who is this guy??
I have ended a little experiment. The title bar at the top of the page used to say "Would I Get More Traffic With A Website Called Anna Kournikova Nude Photos?" The answer is a resounding no. Anna Kournikova didn't bring hits, so I retired her.
More Room Throughout Coach is happy. 10,000 Fly Free Faster 2 bonus miles posted to my Northwest Airlines account overnight.
Thinking about how to promote this site. I admit, I like it when people visit this site. I like it when people link to this site. So I was noodling over how to get people to do more of those two things that I like. Here's what I'm thinking -- a contest! I think it'll go something like this: anyone who links to More Room Throughout Coach during a specified period of time wins an entry in a drawing. I'll draw the winner at random from all of the qualifying entries. The prize will be either American Airlines miles, airline drink coupons, an airline club pass, or an upgrade certificate. I'm actually not sure what prize would be valued most. Does anyone have thoughts on this?
Though there's officially no military draft in America, men are still required to register with Selective Service at age 18. Naturally, non-compliance is high. A little-known provision of Bush's education reform package requires that schools turn over student names, addresses, and telephone numbers to the military. This certainly introduces the risk that the government could come after teenagers who don't register. There is a provision in the legislation that allows parents to opt out of the information sharing. Better take advantage of it...
Sometimes legislation is the easy way out. Tony Woodlief says that rather than shirking our responsibilities to each other onto government, we need more people in the community helping out, albeit in just a small way, their neighbor.

Monday, July 15, 2002
The latest on airport security, from Satirewire.
Between now and September 30, 2002, you earn 100 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for each person you refer who joins the program (maximum of 5).
I still recommend the Starwood American Express as the best mileage earning credit card, but some folks still insist pigheadedly that they want a United Mileageplus Visa. For those folks, I include a link to the best bonus offer going on that card: 10,000 miles with first purchase, $25 discount coupon (virtually worthless, since it can't be used on internet purchases), and a 1,000 mile upgrade coupon (good only on full fare unless you have flown more than 25,000 with the airline and have status).
American AAdvantage is offering 5,000 bonus miles for signing up with AT&T Wireless service -- or up to 25,000 miles for five lines of service. AAdvantage and AT&T are also offering a sweepstakes. Through Nov. 15, anyone who makes an international call using their AT&T wireless service will be entered for a chance to win 1 million AAdvantage miles. Come to think of it, someday I should probably do an exhaustive search and analysis of the different cell phone for miles deals out there. Don't have the mental energy for it today...
Earn 10,000 American Airlines miles per year with BankDirect. This one is a bit tricky, because there are fees below the minimum balances. If you can keep the minimum balance in your account, this could be lucrative.
Netbank is offering Priority Club points for new savings accounts. There's no account fee. Just deposit $250 and leave it for a month. There are no fees. You'll earn 10,000 Priority Club points. You are then free to cancel the account without penalty.

Combine that with the 10,000 mile bonus for the free Priority Club Visa and you now have 20,000 points. That's a couple of hotel nights or 5,000 frequent flyer miles in your choice of 19 different airline programs.
US planning to recruit 1 in 24 Americans as citizen-spies. That's a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police. (Thanks to Damon Chetson for the link.)

Sunday, July 14, 2002
My Armageddon Day: December 2, 2057, according to the Death Clock. Looks like I won't be needing any Christmas presents that year, but could you throw me one hell of a birthday bash please?
I usually ignore PC debates as pretty much a non-issue, but this is just surreal. (Thanks to Juan Non-Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy for the link.)
Some tentative thoughts on accounting scandals. Charles Oliver asks if current US accounting scandals mean that the US in 2002 is like Japan in 1989. I have some fears that he may be right.

Japan soared for a long time on a mistaken belief about the health of its companies and economy. It turned out that the books were cooked. Japanese accounting rules allowed companies to take bonds and split them between principal and interest (coupons and zeroes) and value the two parts equally. Of course, they weren't equally valuable. So companies would sell the more valuable piece for a paper profit, and keep the less valuable piece on their books at above market value. Companies were hiding losses and pretending to show profits in this way for decades.

At the time, analysts in the US were smug. This practice wasn't permitted under US accounting standards. Japanese companies made terribly made investments, but hid their mistakes. Eventually the chickens came home to roost and the Japanese economy went downhill. Japanese policy made things worse, trying subsidies and bailouts instead of forcing liquidation of mistakes. There was little policy credibility, and investors were unwilling to return.

Now we're seeing accounting gimmicks here in the United States that hid losses and bad investments (at the root of Enron's problems, despite all the chicanery, were bad investments ... if their gambles paid off, we wouldn't even know how the books were cooked). The outstanding questions are: how deep is the problem? and what will be the policy response?

The problem appears on the surface to be deep, in so far as more companies keep coming out with revisions to their financial statements. How deep we don't yet know. However deep it is, it's past and done. We need to ferret it out, but there's nothing we can do to change the past.

The only variable left out in the open is the policy response. Legislatures are political animals and aren't good at making accounting rules (remember that Congress asked the Financial Accounting Standards Board to lighten up in 1993 and not require companies to expense options). Congress (and the Democrats who controlled the chambers nine years ago) have little credibility here. Political animals seek easy and palatable solutions that either protect cronies and contributors or play on mass sentiment. Japan hurt themselves by refusing to allow the market to play out and liquidate bad investments.

Tough accounting standards are in order, but they won't come from Congress. Congress needs to get out of the way of FASB. Fortunately, Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) took this very same position on Meet the Press this morning. Corporate America's credibility is at stake, and they know it. The recent scandals mean that cooking the books in the near term is not an option -- there's too much scrutiny.

Of course, smart people will figure out how to game the system. Any new rules will be overcome in time, and then we'll be back to square one. This is really an intractable problem, and one that the market is likely not to solve with absolute certainty. The problem is that government intervention is only likely to make matters worse.
Anyone care to send the folks at blogspot a dollar so they can buy themselves a clue and name More Room Throughout Coach a Blog of Note?
I just noticed Timatollah. Okay, I noticed because he linked to me. Tim has some interesting observations, but I need to take issue with his July 4th point based on the Declaration of Independence that "legitimate government is one of the great creations of the human social animal."

We equally need to remember Madison's point that (paraphrasing) If all men were angels, there would be no need for government. If government were to be run by angels, there would be no need for constraints. But it is precisely because men are to rule over other men, that we must first empower and then constrain.

IMHO, we've gone rather far on the pendulum towards empowering. We need to pay a little more attention to constraints.
My May archives seem to have disappeared, so here is a permanent link, I think.

The two key tips -- since not many folks visited this blog in its first couple days -- were:
Last year, when the U.C. Berkeley Speech team stayed with me during the AFA national finals, we visited the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum. Jake and Jenni tried to convince me that the moon landing was a fake. I didn't believe them. Thanks to this link (thanks to Happy Fun Pundit), now I do.
USS Clueless posts about the importance of juries and declining protections for defendants in the U.K. It's important to remember that juries are an important protection against a tyrannical state.
Today is Bastille Day which commemmorates the storming of the Bastille and the overthrow of the French monarchy.
Consider a picnic which includes French wine. Personally, I am going to mark the occasion by reading about wines that I cannot afford on a regular basis -- Chateua Y'quem, the world's finest white wine and the greatest wine I've ever tasted; and three of the five "first growths" of Bordeaux:

Saturday, July 13, 2002
TAPPED is doing quite a job spotting factual errors in Ann Coulter's book Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right. Scoobie really plays it up.

Now, Coulter doesn't seem to be a Michael Bellesiles -- but she ought to acknowledge her errors. They matter. Coulter's argument is that the tenor of discourse is different for liberals than it is for conservatives --- that conservatives use facts and logic while liberals scream, rant, and engage in character assassination. Sloppy facts undermine her argument. The truth is that "both" sides see the other as evil or stupid. If only one's opponents would give logic a chance they would see the error of their ways!

Conservatives, like liberals, need to look in the mirror and be honest with themselves about their discourse. (I'm not the first right-of-center person to take Coulter to task for her rhetoric.)
A brand new, best-ever bonus for signing up for the Starwood American Express. Up to 10,000 bonus miles in the first year of card membership -- 4k with your first purchase, 1k for your first hotel stay at a Starwood property, and 500 bonus points for each of the next 10 stays in the first year. First year of card membership remains free, with a $30 fee thereafter. This is a richer offer than the old offer, which didn't include the 4000 points for making a first purchase.

This is the best mileage-earning card. First, because Starwood (W, Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis) is a great hotel program and there are no capacity controls on awards -- if there's a hotel room open, it's yours. Second, because your points convert 1:1 (as opposed to 5:1 with Hilton) to airline miles in almost any program you choose. Plus, since there's a 5000 mile bonus for converting 20000 points, you are in essence earning 1.25 miles per dollar spent on the card, compared to only one mile with every other card. Not to mention that you can convert points into Qantas at 1:2 -- and with the conversion bonus, it only takes 50,000 Starwood points for a first-class ticket to Australia. That's less than half the miles it would normally take...

You mean you don't have this card yet?
Doctors-only deal. Healthfusion.com offers American Airlines miles for submitting claims and insurance eligibility inquiries on-line.
Enter this sweepstakes and get 500 Goldpoints.
Here's a tip that's really a two-fer:

First of all, it's worth signing up for Travelocity Fare Watcher. You list city pairs customized to your needs and they e-mail you when the fare changes. That way you can nab the best fares for your upcoming itineraries.

Second, after you book your itinerary it's still worth checking those emails that Travelocity sends you. That's because if a fare drops after you have already purchased your tickets (that is, if a cheaper fare is available for your specific itinerary), you should call the airline -- they will give you a credit voucher for the difference. Bet you didn't know that, huh? :)
Andrew Sullivan notes "AND NOW THEY WANT OUR COFFEE: The puritanical left - having tried to take away our booze, porn, and cigarettes - is now after our lattes. Okay, guys, this is serious."

I'll leave the legal questions (about whether Berkeley can restrict trade in this manner) to law professors at The Volokh Conspiracy and Instapundit.

My personally selfish reaction is that fair trade coffee is more expensive than and doesn't taste as good as the coffee that I enjoy. I think that is more important than most people will give credit to. Enjoyable products at a low price matter However, it isn't morally persuasive if my latte creates misery for others.

The truth is, though, that "fair wages" isn't as simple as proposition as its proponents would contend. We can't simply decide that we want companies to pay its workers more, and offer more comfortable working environments. The truth is, that the real option is between low wages and no wages; working conditions that are below the norm in the developed West, or no work at all. Those of us with incomes sufficient to purchase $4 lattes can wring our hands, but solutions aren't simple.

If we boycott coffee which doesn't satisfy "fair trade" guidelines, we deny the jobs that let workers earn even the meager salary they receive. We make them worse off.

Economics teaches us that the value of a wage can only rise when workers are more productive. They become more productive through higher human capital (education) and through combining labor with machinery (capital). Access to capital only works in a legal environment which encourages investment (low taxes) and protects private property. We really need to look at the oppressive governments in coffee producing nations, and blame them for the economic conditions that people live under. It's the government policies not the employers that are to blame.

The hard truth is that sweatshop workers are better off than if the sweatshop companies weren't there. We might wish the workers were even better off -- but laws like the one proposed in Berkeley don't make that happen. They simply switch business investment to more hospitable climates, and deny jobs to the least advantaged in the world.

Sad, really.
Quare notes a strange legal conundrum. It's illegal to engage non-District of Columbia residents to circulate petitions in DC (so noone from Virginia or Maryland), but it's also illegal to advertise the fact that it's illegal -- because that would be discriminatory. Seems highly wasteful and inefficient.

Friday, July 12, 2002
This frightens me. The sitemeter button at the bottom of the page will take you to this website's statistics. I'm not the most frequently visited site in the world, but I make all of my stats available to the world. So, I was checking the stats the morning. One of the things available is the referring page. That is, where did a visitor come from if they clicked on a link? Apparently I got a hit this morning from someone doing a google search: "Is Bernie Ebbers a Jew?" This scares me. I don't know what the Worldcom scandal could possibly have to do with religion, but there sure are bigots out there in the world. I'm really sad this morning.
How should I use my miles. I'm not going to give you the definitive answer here, but I am going to tell you about how I use mine -- and point out that how you want to use them will dictate your choices of program, credit card, etc.

Yesterday I received an email asking my opinion of a credit card from MBNA with No annual fee, $1 = 1 point, 25k points = 1 flight w/in contiguous US w/o blackout dates. The ticket has to be booked 21 days in advance in coach, and there's a maximum dollar value for the ticket.

Here is my reply:

What I do like about the offer is that when traveling on an award ticket, since it is a PURCHASED ticket, you will be earning more frequent flyer miles (when traveling on an airline reward ticket purchased with miles, you do not earn miles).

What I do NOT like about it is that you are limited in the way you can buy the ticket (must be 3 weeks out) and limited in the dollar value of the ticket (cheap).

This is precisely the opposite use that I have for miles.
  • I use miles for last-minute and extremely pricey tickets such as when I have to travel cross-country and purchase the tickets the day before.. I'm usually able to get an award ticket for 25,000 miles instead of spending $2000.
  • I use miles for international first class travel (90,000 miles for international business to sydney, 120,000 miles for international first to sydney).
  • I use miles to confirm first class upgrades.
Since those are how I like to use miles -- and how I think I get the most value for them -- I wouldn't choose the card mentioned above.

Why use miles for a $300 ticket when those same miles can purchase a roundtrip first class upgrade (worth, say, $1500 -- the difference between discount coach and first for a cross-country trip)? Why use miles for four $300 tickets when those same miles can purchase a $7500 international business class ticket?

I use miles for the things I could never afford to pay for on my own. My miles strategies allow me to travel in a style beyond my means. But that's a personal choice. Think about what you want to accomplish with miles, and then make sure your miles accumulation strategy matches that spending strategy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002
500 Northwest miles for taking a 30 second survey on airport security. Also, if you aren't signed up to get email from Northwest, they'll give you 2000 miles if you do.
[gratuitous plea for traffic]

I was kind of getting used to the thousand folks who came to visit More Room Throughout Coach from Instapundit's link on Sunday. When that post got buried, traffic started to fall.

If you find this site useful, I'd appreciate it if you would send the link to some friends. If you have a blog I'd appreciate it if you'd mention us in a post. Seeing traffic numbers gets my juices flowing, and more importantly inspires me to post advice and links that benefit you.

Hey, I appreciate it!

[/gratuitous plea for traffic]
Tony Woodlief takes down Jesse Jackson, Kweisi Mfume, and major league baseball. Check him out.
1500 miles for free on Alaska Air. First, sign up for their free My Alaska Air profile for 1000 miles. Don't sign up for e-statements, however. Once you're done signing up for My Alaska Air, then sign up for e-statements for another 500 miles.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002
The rise of the sleepwalking defense. A U. Mass-Amherst student is acquitted of sexual assault after claiming he was sleepwalking through it all. I wonder if that'll work for Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom or the board of Enron? As a finance person myself, I can tell you that audit meeting have a tendency to lull participants to sleep...
USA Today reports on a new trend towards private encouragement of airline service to small communities. Government subsidies didn't work well because they failed to match the desire for air service with passenger demand for travel, and airlines wound up eating subsidy money and pulling service when the subsidies dried up. Now companies are getting together to decide what kind of air service they need and guaranteeing business up front, reducing the risk to an airline starting service. This private cooperative solution may be the way of the future for luring air service to smaller airports.
I'm finding that with the increased traffic on the site, I'm getting alot of email questions -- what frequent flyer program should I choose? which credit card should I carry? That sort of thing.

I'm happy to be of help. Please just understand if it takes me a couple of days to answer. Also, unless you ask otherwise, I might post your question and my answer for others to benefit from.
The 500 free USAirways offer that I posted has actually shown up in my account twice -- so it's 1000 miles. Even better reason to fill out the form. :)

Monday, July 08, 2002
Attention students. United Airlines will give you 10,000 miles for graduating -- free -- not to mention bonus miles if you fly United. The graduation bonus only requires sending in a transcript.
Free upgrade coupons. Most airlines offer small business incentive programs. The idea is that, by attaching your small business account to the traveler's reservation, the travel earns both the normal points for the employee and special bonus points for the business. It costs nothing, and can be rewarding. You can earn free travel, upgrades, lounge memberships, etc. AmericaWest even offers an immediate 5% discount on the price of the ticket as well.

However, this post isn't meant to be a discourse on the merits of the different small business programs. I'll save that for another day. This is a post about how to get something for nothing right away -- instant gratification without actually having to travel.

When you sign up for AmericaWest's Corporate AWArds, you'll get a welcome packet that includes a free space available upgrade certificate. You can use it on any fare to go from coach to first class, and you don't have to have any status with the airline to use it. It's fully transferable, too. I just gave mine to my grandfather to fly first class from Phoenix to Newark. (As I mention above, joining Corporate AWArds also gives you a 5% discount on tickets. It also makes you eligible for America West's elite status match -- if you're elite on another airline, you can get the same status complimentary with America West.)

Signing up for USAirways Corporate Dividends will also get you an upgrade certificate.

(The only hitch is that to sign up for small business programs, you'll need a tax ID number.)

Sunday, July 07, 2002
Extra miles for everyday purchases.

Most people know about mileage earning credit cards. However, those aren't the only way to get miles for your purchases. Everyday items can be purchased online. That isn't news to blog readers. What might be news is that if you start out at a web shopping portal you can earn points for those online purchases.

Before buying anything online, you'll want to go to one of the following portals:There are very few items you can buy that you can't get miles for!

If you don't want to search through the partners at each of the above sites, just check out Rewards Lookup. It will tell you which online shopping sites offer points for the purchase you want to make.

:: how jedi are you? ::
Very cool. Props for this site from The Daily Dose. Hey, Thanks!
Wow. A reference by Instapundit. Thanks, Professor! Instapundit readers, welcome. Bookmark this site and come back often for tips on flying first class for free, accumulating points for free travel, and other stuff.
In my Winter 2002 Doublethink article (pdf here, HTML here) I argued that our nation's approach to terrorism was ultimately failed, because all of the security measures in the world will be unable to stop would-be terrorists. All of the civil liberties we give up in exchange for security will ultimately fail to make us safe. In the end, we will be both unsafe and unfree.

In particular, I argued that airport security would simply move the target to the security and check-in line. Lo and behold on July 4th, a gunman attacked an El Al ticket counter in Los Angeles.

In the above article, I predicted that the government's response to an attack outside of security would simply be to move out the perimeter of security. Lo and behold, I'm sitting here watching CNN's "Late Edition" and Wolf Blitzer asked Senator Richard Shelby if this is what we needed to do. Shelby concurred.

What would that create? Long lines to get into the airport, and another inviting terrorist target. It's an infinite regression -- terrorist attack, move out the perimeter, new target, new attack, move out the perimeter -- until our entire nation is engulfed in security. We will be both unsafe and unfree.

So what to do? As I conclude in my article, we need to return to our nation's founding principles of non-aggression.
Life imitates art. I wonder if this woman has even seen American Pie 2?
From the "if it exists, government will tax it" file -- North Victoria, Australia has approved a vomit tax.

Saturday, July 06, 2002
Do-it-yourself upgrades

American Airlines flies several three class (First/Business/Coach) 767 and 777 flights that are sold as two class (first and economy). That means that the business class seats are sold as coach (with coach service -- just the better seat).

In order to pre-reserve these seats, you need to be an American Airlines elite (because the front of coach is reserved for American Airlines elites who fly more than 25,000 miles a year with the airline). So, if you're an elite it's a "do-it-yourself" upgrade. You can also get these seats if you purchase a full fare ticket. At the airport itself you might have luck requesting one of these seats as well.

Here are the current flights where this is possible:
  • LAX-ORD AA88 9:36-15:36
  • ORD-LAX AA89 15:02-17:25
  • MIA-DFW: AA908 7:30-9:42, AA69 17:24-19:45
  • DFW-MIA: AA1614 11:20-15:05, AA905 16:05-20:06
  • MIA-JFK: AA1262 13:20-16:17, AA1600 17:05-20:05, AA988 19:30-22:32
  • EWR-LAX AA43 8:15-11:21
  • LAX-EWR AA164 15:35-23:59
  • ORD-DFW AA2347 17:29-19:52
Flight schedules change all the time, so check for yourself with the AA electronic timetable.
The man and woman who are auctioning off the right to name their baby have received bids in excess of $7,000. The man and woman who are auctioning off the right to name their bird have yet to receive a bid. Speciesism, perhaps?

Friday, July 05, 2002
Not sure what to think about this. I guess if you live long enough you'll see everything.

No, this isn't a post about how Amtrak should be liquidated through a bankruptcy proceeding. It's a post about getting the most out of your rail travel.

Occasionally, I move past airlines and offer other tips such as how to get rental car discounts.

In this case, I have several tibits to offer.

First, I'm always surprised how many people don't realize that Amtrak has a frequent rider program. Definitely worth signing up. However, don't just sign up because the program is there. Wait until you're going to take a train trip, and you'll get 500 bonus points.

Second, Amtrak has an elite level that offers upgrades to first class if space is available, and passes to their first class lounge. 5 roundtrips on the Acela Express or Metroliner in a year is all it takes to qualify.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, there are several ways to get discounted travel.

The online booking form has a space to enter a promotion code.
  • "H208" gives you 30% off any ticket on regional (not acela) services with a 7 day advance purchase
  • V529 is good for 20% off to/from New York City and Philadelphia
Amtrak is currently running a sale that can be used in creative ways. Their train "The Carolinian" goes from New York Penn Station through Philly, Wilmington, and Washington, into Richmond and down to Raleigh and Charlotte to Greensboro. Special fares work as long as the destination is in North Carolina. For instance, New York--Rocky Mount, NC (first station in NC) is $28 one way.

Of course, there's no reason that you have to stay on the train past Washington, DC. So you can take "The Carolinian" from New York to Washington, DC for $28... (Wilmington to DC should run you $21 this way.)

Now, if you book the same train from NY-DC the cost will be much higher. Book the ticket all the way to North Carolina and just get off the train.

Thursday, July 04, 2002
Credit Cards for Earning Miles.

My favorite card is the Starwood American Express which lets you earn 1.25 points/dollar in pretty much any airline program you want. What's more, it's free the first year and only $30/yr thereafter. (And I'm editing the link in this post -- 7/13/02 -- to a new offer that includes 4000 Starwood points at signup.)

Right now, there is a truly special offer for signing up for the Northwest Visa (must act by July 15). 25,000 bonus miles for signup.

And you might as well carry a Visa and an Amex, right?

But here's something that most people miss. Most good mileage earning cards have annual fees. How about the hotel cards? You can pick up a hotel credit card with no annual fee -- and what's more, they offer free bonus points just for signing up. There's no reason not to sign up for all of them, pocket the bonus points, and either keep and cancel the card once those points post! What's more, those points can be used for hotel stays or converted into frequent flyer points with most airlines.
Yes, I have pocketed the bonus points for all of these cards. They're free. Why not?
I keep meaning to walk into the Founding Church of Scientology in Dupont Circle -- they invite tours and advertise "help wanted" all the time. I've never gotten around to it, but PJ Doland has, and he filed this report.
Victory! Bill Bennett concedes that conservatives have lost the culture war:

"They've won," says Bennett. "They can't stand to have won, but it's over and they've won. They get to say and do anything and make billions and castigate us in the process."

Good riddance!
Family Leave comes to German Aviation. European countries are unmatched in their "sensitivity" to personal issues. Now frequent flyers can take advantage of this sensitivity!

Top level Lufthansa Elites can now stay that way if they stop flying as long as they have children. This fascinating new rule they just announced:

Lufthansa Senators and Frequent Travellers who would be unable to maintain their status during maternity leave can now retain their status. The status extension is valid for one year at a time, and can be used by mothers or fathers.

As I read the "one year at a time" line - if you and your wife are a Senator now, and you then have 5 children, one per year, husband and wife both stay Senator for that 5 year period.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002
I've just added Talentology to the links at left. I first mentioned it here.
Thanks also for the link, Tony. Your site is one of only three on my links (at the left).

Hey, I may be starting to reach a critical mass around these parts. Please spread the word!
I just came across an interesting media watch blog. How did it come to my attention? I started getting visitors to More Room Throughout Coach from a link on that site. Thanks for the props, Cut on the Bias. :)

Tuesday, July 02, 2002
The Los Angeles Times fronts news this morning that U.S. bombs in Afghanistan may have hit a wedding party. More Room Throughout Coach first noted the phenomenon way back on May 28th. You hear it here first!

Monday, July 01, 2002
I've just added a comments feature to the website. Have at me!
Yesterday I noted the case of the teenage girl sentenced for having sex with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is appealing his fine and the ACLU is contesting the underlying law.
Eugene Volokh points out this amusing and insightful cartoon about recent corporate accounting scandals.
The DC police are frighteningly incompetent. First, it took them a year to find Chandra Levy's body. Then, it turned out last month that they didn't even pick up all of her body parts. Now the Washington Post reports that cops may have vandalized the crime scene. Must be that their $300 million budget is too small.
It's the start of a new quarter! Hilton HHonors members get 1,000 bonus points for updating their profile (changing fax number, email, etc.). This works twice per quarter. To do it twice in a row, just make sure that you log out after the first attempt and then log back in. You'll be able to do it again October 1st. (Earn 8,000 points per year this way.)



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Some of My Writings:

Thoughts on Academic Debate
-May '99 Rostrum

Thoughts on the War on Terror
-Winter 2002 Doublethink

Want to Know More About Liberty?

The Ego and His Own by Max Stirner
The Man Versus the State by Herbert Spencer
Our Enemy the State by Albert Jay Nock
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
Why I Would Not Vote Against Hitler by Wendy McElroy (a plumb-line case against democracy and voting -- Ms. McElroy argues it is morally preferable to assasinate Hitler than to vote against him, because voting reifies the very system that allows a Hitler to come to power in the first place.)
Anarchist Theory FAQ by Bryan Caplan

Want to Know More About Inexpensive and Free Travel?

Flyertalk.com: Online Travel Community
Biddingfortravel.com: Bulletin Board for Successful Priceline Bidding
Sidestep.com: Airfare Metasearch Tool
ITA Software: The backend of Orbitz
TheTrip.com FlightTracker
Great Circle Mapper: Distances Between Airports
MileageAddict's Mileage Workshop: More Tips on Accumulating Miles and Points
MileTracker: Free tool for managing all of your frequent flyer point accounts

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