Tonight I got TPM Reader HH's deep, deep dive into the economics of Uber and some interesting questions about whether it's current valuation makes sense in anything that looks like established transportation economics. There's a lot here that gave me food for thought. One point I'll add first is to say that a basic question I've long had about Uber (and its competitors, for that matter) is that the one thing that seems really new and different about it is the addition of geolocation and ride ordering made possible by the app. That's a big thing, especially if you're outside of the pretty small number of highly concentrated urban areas where taxis are ubiquitous. But it's something local cab companies or whole industries could duplicate if they set their minds to it. In any case, over to TPM Reader HH ...
Longtime reader and early Prime member. You seemed to be looking for some help understanding the Uber debate, so I thought some background notes might be useful. I have no relationship with Uber or any Uber competitors, but have spent a lifetime in transportation (aviation mostly, also railroads and transit) and think I have a pretty solid grounding in the economics and competitive dynamics at play here. The thoughts here are based on Uber debates on an airline listserv, that quickly degenerated into partisan/ideological flamethrowing that overwhelmed all efforts to apply basic MBA-type analysis to actual industry evidence. I don’t think you (or most other Uber observers) are all that interested in detailed discussions of taxicab economics. But I think there are hugely important questions that you and your readers would consider important. How did a new entrant in a small industry manage to generate such enormous, mostly favorable press coverage? Why is it that this huge public discussion of taxi industry competition never includes any information that might actually be helpful to one’s understanding of taxi industry competition? (are current companies wasteful or inefficient? Would Uber actually be significantly more efficient? What is the economic basis for capital markets thinking Uber could achieve $18 billion in an industry where no one else has ever made much money?)
The long-lost, thought drowned in the Pacific, 16,000 letter from Neal Cassady, which inspired Kerouac's On The Road, has been found. It was missing for 60 years and Kerouac himself died thinking it had been lost for good. He called it "the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better'n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves." An auction house in Los Angeles is putting it up for sale next month.
While he wasn't second in command of the United States nuclear arsenal, Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giardina not only had a 15 hour a week gambling habit he also may have had a one-man poker chip counterfeiting operation in which he used paint and stickers to make $1 poker chips into $500 poker chips.
This led to repeated bans from local casinos, eventually a lifetime ban and finally his nuclear weapons were taken away.
Courtesy of TPM Reader FN we have some more information on Chris Christie's crackpot Ebola policy, which he seems to have quietly ditched after no one was looking. FN flags this piece just published by NJ.com which suggests that Christie simply never implemented the policy. But not before finding an abandoned psychiatric hospital, Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital, in Hunterdon Country where asymptomatic health care workers returning from West Africa would be confined - and not before racking up 500 hours of police overtime hours to guard the abandoned facility even though no one was there.
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Ricky Jackson was just released from prison after his main accuser recanted the testimony that sent him to prison for murder in 1975. Yes, after almost 40 years behind bars. Look at the picture in the article. I can almost can't bear to look at it.