Being a less obnoxious capitalist libertarian has its rewards: Daily Bullshit, April 7-9, 2017

Updates

  1. April 7, 2017, 12:32 pm:
    • The Bloom County cartoon under Ride-Sharing.
    • I have updated my Employment Calculations after a long hiatus.
    • A Wall Street Journal columnist warns that companies are replacing equity with debt and that if the assumptions that underlie this move prove wrong, the results could be “ugly.”[1] (Bubbles)
  2. April 8, 03:47 am:
    • Uber is being sued for allegedly charging riders for long trips while paying drivers for short trips.[2]
    • People in the U.S. might finally be wising up to the reality that hard work does not pay off.[3] (Capitalist Mythology)
    • The U.S. Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.[4]
    • California Governor Jerry Brown has declared the drought emergency over.[5] (California Drought)
    • The Washington Post tells the story of a pregnant woman who went to work driving for Uber.[6] (Ride-Sharing)
  3. April 9, 1:55 am:
    • Some possibly gullible people might actually believe that Donald Trump has burnished some sort of anti-Russian credential by striking at Syria.[7] (Golden Showers)
  4. April 9, 11:23 am:
    • Republicans are balking at the cost of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.[8]

Ride-Sharing

Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed, April 7, 2017, on Facebook (fair use).
Fig. 1. Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed, April 7, 2017, on Facebook (fair use).

Lyft has managed to keep whatever troubles it has mostly quiet. In stark contrast to Uber.[9] So investors reward Lyft with a higher than expected valuation in their latest fundraising round.[10]

As to Uber, however, on top of all their other problems, somebody needs to explain to them that if they’ve got to be capitalist libertarians, they should at least be honest capitalist libertarians. Because between the problems with Waymo over allegedly stolen intellectual property[11] and, now, with allegedly paying drivers for short rides while charging riders for long rides,[12] now they just look like thieves. And the vulture venture capitalists who are funding Uber look like complicit idiots.

David Kravets, “Uber said to use “sophisticated” software to defraud drivers, passengers,” Ars Technica, April 6, 2017, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/04/uber-said-to-use-sophisticated-software-to-defraud-drivers-passengers/

Heather Somerville, “Lyft valued at $7.5 billion in new funding round: source,” Reuters, April 6, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lyft-funding-idUSKBN1782GW

Danielle Paquette, “She was pregnant and broke. Signing up for Uber drove her into debt,” Washington Post, April 7, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/she-had-a-newborn-and-no-money-signing-up-for-uber-drove-her-into-debt/2017/04/07/b5ee9510-05d1-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html


Employment Calculations

In essence, the way unemployment is coming down is by driving people out of the labor market. When they’re no longer in the labor market, the Bureau of Labor Statistics no longer counts them as unemployed. All this is based on BLS data, released April 7. See here for more.

Fig. 2. Labor Market Participation rate during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Fig. 3. Labor Market Participation Rate, seasonally unadjusted, historical.

Bubbles

I’m actually hearing more about San Francisco Bay Area rents, which are well into the realm of not making sense. And I have no idea how a rent bubble bursts.

James Mackintosh, “Not a Dot-Com Bubble, Not 2007, but a Nasty Mix of Both,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/not-a-dot-com-bubble-not-2007-but-a-nasty-mix-of-both-1491500666


Capitalist Mythology

Bourree Lam, “Americans Are Skeptical That Hard Work Will Pay Off,” CityLab, April 7, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/04/americans-are-skeptical-that-hard-work-will-pay-off/522342/


Neil Gorsuch

Lisa Mascaro and David G. Savage, “Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-gorsuch-confirmed-20170407-story.html


California Drought

Bettina Boxall, “Gov. Brown declares California drought emergency is over,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-brown-drought-20170407-story.html


Golden Showers

I guess it just wouldn’t be an issue without another installment of the Golden Showers scandal.

This piece by Nahal Toosi is especially lovely because it surrounds an accusation that can’t be effectively denied. If the Trump administration or its defenders deny that its intent in striking Syria following yet more civilian poison gas deaths was to show that Donald Trump is not Vladimir Putin’s puppet, well of course it would! Which, of course, is just a small step short of confirmation that he really is and and that Putin and Trump plotted all this to shore up Trump’s credibility in the face of the long-running scandal.

As a scholar, I have to be more careful than that. A lot more careful. I don’t want to call the questions of whether this allegation or any other allegation in the Trump-Russia scandal is true bullshit—they aren’t. But questions surrounding Trump’s relationship with Russia need to remain questions until we have actual evidence. It’s when people—especially journalists, who sure as fuck should know better—treat the questions as answers that we veer into bullshit. (To her credit, Toosi does stop short of crossing that line, at least on this occasion, but the implication is there.)

Nahal Toosi, “Syria strike gives Trump anti-Kremlin credential,” Politico, April 8, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/trump-syria-kremlin-credentials-237021


Unauthorized Migration

I think Donald Trump may find himself in real trouble with authoritarian populists if, as now seems possible, Republicans don’t deliver them their precious Mexican border wall.[13] But it seems a lot easier to underestimate Trump’s support than it is to overestimate it.

Rafael Bernal and Mike Lillis, “Dems winning fight over wall,” Hill, April 9, 2017, http://thehill.com/latino/327916-dems-winning-fight-over-wall


  1. [1]James Mackintosh, “Not a Dot-Com Bubble, Not 2007, but a Nasty Mix of Both,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/not-a-dot-com-bubble-not-2007-but-a-nasty-mix-of-both-1491500666
  2. [2]David Kravets, “Uber said to use “sophisticated” software to defraud drivers, passengers,” Ars Technica, April 6, 2017, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/04/uber-said-to-use-sophisticated-software-to-defraud-drivers-passengers/
  3. [3]Bourree Lam, “Americans Are Skeptical That Hard Work Will Pay Off,” CityLab, April 7, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/04/americans-are-skeptical-that-hard-work-will-pay-off/522342/
  4. [4]Lisa Mascaro and David G. Savage, “Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-gorsuch-confirmed-20170407-story.html
  5. [5]Bettina Boxall, “Gov. Brown declares California drought emergency is over,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-brown-drought-20170407-story.html
  6. [6]Danielle Paquette, “She was pregnant and broke. Signing up for Uber drove her into debt,” Washington Post, April 7, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/she-had-a-newborn-and-no-money-signing-up-for-uber-drove-her-into-debt/2017/04/07/b5ee9510-05d1-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html
  7. [7]Nahal Toosi, “Syria strike gives Trump anti-Kremlin credential,” Politico, April 8, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/trump-syria-kremlin-credentials-237021
  8. [8]Rafael Bernal and Mike Lillis, “Dems winning fight over wall,” Hill, April 9, 2017, http://thehill.com/latino/327916-dems-winning-fight-over-wall
  9. [9]Laura Bliss, “Is Uber Over?” CityLab, March 9, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/commute/2017/03/is-uber-over/518727/; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, http://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Melanie Zanona and Ali Breland, “Uber shifts into damage control mode,” Hill, March 4, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/322317-uber-shifts-into-damage-control-mode
  10. [10]Heather Somerville, “Lyft valued at $7.5 billion in new funding round: source,” Reuters, April 6, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lyft-funding-idUSKBN1782GW
  11. [11]Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine, “Waymo-Uber judge says may grant injunction if key witness doesn’t testify,” Reuters, March 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-alphabet-lawsuit-idUSKBN17206X; Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine, “Waymo targets second senior executive in Uber self-driving dispute,” Reuters, April 3, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-alphabet-lawsuit-idUSKBN1752LW
  12. [12]David Kravets, “Uber said to use “sophisticated” software to defraud drivers, passengers,” Ars Technica, April 6, 2017, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/04/uber-said-to-use-sophisticated-software-to-defraud-drivers-passengers/
  13. [13]Rafael Bernal and Mike Lillis, “Dems winning fight over wall,” Hill, April 9, 2017, http://thehill.com/latino/327916-dems-winning-fight-over-wall

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