Republicans are missing their ride

Wouldn’t it be great for Republicans to line up behind a massively popular force that pits entrepreneurship and innovation against corrupt political interests? Even better, what if that same force was helping ordinary people improve their lives and opening up opportunities for Republicans to compete in urban and minority communities?

New labor and capital models emerging from the tech sector are a gift from the political gods that Republicans have, as yet, entirely failed to recognize. These innovations are vastly popular with the public, especially younger voters who are otherwise drifting left. Meanwhile, new technology is setting up a conflict with corrupt, unpopular established business models tied to Democrats by deep institutional bonds.

Mired in delusional pessimism and hopelessly burdened by bigotry, Republicans are missing a golden opportunity. Innovations in mobile payment, asset sharing, 3-D printing and digital marketplaces are not just changing the way we live; they are upending economic assumptions that once defined our partisan divide. Pioneers in this new economy are desperate for political allies. Innovations in the labor market are opening a window of opportunity to build a new identity for the GOP. There is no sign that we are ready to seize it.

Understanding how technology is blurring the once bright line between labor and capital starts with a close look at how ride-sharing has disrupted the taxi business. Democrats are lining up to defend an archaic taxi business model against competition by adopting flimsy rhetoric about worker protections. In reality, Democrats are defending existing models for two reasons, 1) they don’t understand emerging technology any better than Republicans, and more importantly, 2) they cannot wriggle free of their deep political dependence on a patronage model.

Taxi industry rentiers were one of the largest contributors to the campaign of New York’s “progressive” mayor, Bill de Blasio. The mayor has locked himself into a fight against the ride-sharing service. Bernie Sanders has, unsurprisingly, expressed that he has “serious problems” with the company’s business model.

The taxi business owes its continuing existence to regulatory capture and its corrupt ties to urban political machines. Democrats find themselves defending rentiers, occasionally even organized crime figures, against the interests of individual workers they celebrate in their rhetoric. Democrats are trapped in a 19th century model of urban political patronage. Republicans could make them pay.

Local governments have several legitimate interests to protect in the taxi industry. They need the drivers and vehicles to meet safety standards. They want the market structured in way that insures cabs are available on consistent basis and that drivers are not exploited.

To manage taxi markets, New York City in 1937 passed the Haas Act, mandating a limit on the number of taxi “medallions” the city would award. To legally operate a cab in the city, the vehicle must display a medallion purchased from the city, and licensed annually, a practice that continues today.

It was a solid idea that spread rapidly, giving cities some leverage to impose minimum standards in the industry without granting a monopoly to a single vendor. Medallions were a form of market-based regulation that kept cities out of the taxi business while preventing a market-driven race-to-the-bottom in terms of quality.

Every great idea has a lifecycle. As an environment changes, an adaptation that bred success in the past can become a dangerous liability. A close look at the way the industry has evolved reveals those weaknesses now.

Medallions developed into a form of capital, one whose only value rose from the regulators themselves. From the beginning, medallions were accumulated by politically-connected insiders who capitalized them. The medallion attached to the vehicle, not the driver. By leasing the right to operate to other drivers, the vehicle itself could be almost constantly in service. As the value of the medallions rose they become a legitimate investment.

Over time the relationship between medallion holders and urban regulators evolved in a predictable direction. Medallion ownership has consolidated into relatively few hands. Their influence over urban politics (reads: Democratic politics) has grown and deepened. Owners’ cozy relationship with their very local regulators has helped them block competition, exploit workers, skirt safety standards, and disregard the needs of riders. The taxi business is a cesspool of corruption, controlled by a relatively small collection of capital owners who have imposed an effective monopoly on the business.

With very few exceptions, taxi drivers are independent contractors who operate under lousy conditions. For each shift they work they pay a set fee, in the form of a lease, to the medallion owner. A dispatcher controls much of their activity, and receives an additional cut. So the driver starts their shift with a sizable fixed cost.

Unionization in the cab industry is challenging for a combination of practical and political reasons. Since the drivers are almost never employees and very few people perform the work consistently, the driver pool is difficult to coherently identify, much less to organize. Complicating the problem is the fact that unions and medallion holders are both deeply embedded inside the same political party. Unionization would require a poorly organized, politically marginalized minority to persuade existing union interests to upend powerful forces with entrenched interests from inside the Democratic political machine. It hasn’t happened and it won’t. Thanks to innovation, it is no longer the most promising option for workers.

For consumers the taxi market is similarly lousy. Vehicles are consistently old and in minimal repair. Technology available to drivers to process payments is miserable, often improvised on the driver’s phone. Supposedly set fares always seem to inexplicably vary. Rides often end with a driver strongly suggesting that cash would be the best payment method, then making the electronic transaction take as long as possible. On short fares, the payment process can take as long as the ride.

This is a business ripe for disruptive innovation. How do ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft work? Press a button on your phone to request a ride. Costs will vary based on the number of available drivers and traffic conditions. Despite all the worry about variable pricing, you can get a highly reliable fare estimate by pressing a button.

While you wait for your car you can watch its progress on a map. When the ride is over you get out and walk away. Rate your driver. That’s it. The transaction is handled electronically by Uber or Lyft. Need a car, get a car. Costs are low, service is excellent, uncertainty and delay are reduced to near zero.

And the drivers themselves? That’s the best part. They are almost all part-timers working to capitalize an existing investment in a vehicle. A driver with a paid-off vehicle in good condition can make vastly more money than a traditional taxi driver working far fewer hours. More importantly, the flexibility of the work opens up options for people who need a little extra money but don’t have the time or desire to commit to the years of twelve hour shifts necessary to break into the taxi industry.

Press a button on your phone, clear a background check and vehicle inspection, then make far more money than a cab driver working on your own schedule when you feel like it. Drivers owe nothing to Uber or Lyft. They owe nothing to a corrupt union bureaucracy. They owe nothing to local politicians. In many ways, Uber epitomizes the new economic freedom of social capitalism. The Uber driver is a political nightmare for Democrats, a true free agent unconstrained by any political machine.

Lyft and Uber are disrupting more than the taxi business. In the course of demolishing a corrupt business model they are also threatening a corrupt political model that hinges on blocking workers from gaining their own independent voice. At the heart of America’s big cities, the last remaining stronghold of Democratic politics, ride-sharing could redraw the political map if Republican would just pick up that stylus.

Rhetoric in play against ride-sharing is bizarre, suggesting that many Democratic politicians have no idea how the taxi business (or any other business) works. Uber is bad because it doesn’t offer health insurance. Uber is bad because drivers are not employees. Uber is bad because few drivers work full-time hours. Conditions of the sharing economy that liberals criticize are in many cases the traits workers most love. And the absence of employment benefits is not unique to Uber, but an embedded characteristic of a taxi industry Democrats foster and politically protect.

Suddenly Democrats have discovered the plight of taxi drivers, after having created their plight in the first place.

Here’s where ride-sharing, like many other similar disruptions, presents a radical new opportunity for Republicans. These innovations blur the line between capital and labor in ways that destroy older political alignments. Instead of investing in a medallion or paying leases to an owner, a Lyft or Uber driver uses their own car, which normally would be an ordinary cost of living – an expense. How does ride sharing change the cost of becoming a capitalist? Observe:

Cost of a taxi medallion in a major city: Somewhere between $400,000 and $1,300,000.

Cost of a car used for UberX: $18,000-30,000.

Like a business owner, Uber or Lyft drivers work when they want to, quit when they want to, and hold out for higher pay by only working when the fares are most lucrative. They earn a chance to convert their labor into capital leveraging assets they already own.

What about health insurance, protection from termination, and fair pay? Taxi drivers under existing arrangements enjoy none of these benefits. Taxi drivers’ lack of health insurance is not an Uber problem, it’s a national political problem. The solution is not to force Uber to enter the same antiquated, suffocating labor arrangement we’ve imposed on the rest of the market. The solution is to recognize the ways the world is changing and finally decouple health insurance coverage from full-time employment.

Developments in the late stages of the knowledge economy are giving birth to millions of new capitalists. In a move that would make Marx’s head explode and Jack Kemp’s face glow in the dark with excitement, workers are becoming capital owners. Their future partisan alignment is largely in our hands. Democrats are unable to adapt, trapped by their existing relationships with corrupt urban political interests. Republicans are free to pursue these new constituents, urban, young, and often black or Hispanic. We just need to recognize them and make an effort.

A healthy Republican Party could seize this opportunity to champion the liberating forces of market economics against political corruption. Clearly defined, delivered with discipline, this becomes the core of an optimistic, broad appeal that could break open the Democratic stranglehold on big cities and smash the Blue Wall. Instead, for some reason, we’re promising to roll back gay marriage and shut out immigrants.

Our willingness to find comfort in a world of manufactured facts comes with a price tag. By blinding ourselves to the massive social changes developing around us we are also missing vital opportunities. Republicans have a crucial role to play in fostering hopeful 21st century business models. Will we miss our ride?

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Economics, Republican Party, Technology, Uncategorized
178 comments on “Republicans are missing their ride
  1. Anse says:

    Hello…hand up…liberal Democrat and dedicated Uber user here…I freely acknowledge that the taxi services have totally failed when it comes to recognizing their precarious position in this business. You’d think they might have had such an innovation coming down the pike. Most of the people I know–most of them liberals–have freely jumped on the Uber bandwagon, and I’m not sure why some Democrats have been overly quick to object to Uber when so many others I know use the service all the time.

    That said, Chris, there is one big issue with these “independent contractors”, and you’ve talked about this in the past. There are certain things that need to exist in order for this kind of economy to truly thrive and truly liberate the work force. Probably the biggest thing is universal health care. The health insurance market as it exists now is one of the biggest hurdles to folks leaving jobs they don’t like to striking out on their own. Right now, Uber is just a moonlighting job for people (I have a friend who is a teacher who does it during his summers now). And maybe that’s all Uber will ever be for most. But if this economic evolution is really going to take hold, and companies like Uber are to become in any way a dominant model in the market, then the things that have traditionally bound individuals to working for large companies are going to have to change.

    You’ve written about this in the past. And I’ll accept the criticism of Democrats here. But at least Dems are somewhat more open to the kinds of reforms that could make this new emerging economy possible.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I don’t know about other cities, but in Houston, I know Yellow Cab does not provide its drivers with health insurance. They are also “independent contractors.”

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      In the city of Pittsburgh, Uber and Lyft were welcomed by the Democratic city government. I have no problem with the concept of a “gig” economy, but it seems like Uber is taking a substantial percentage compared to the benefit they provide. It seems that most of the technology could be provided by Google at low cost. The rest could be subbed out. I know that there is great value in being first, but I’m just not seeing it.

      This article points to potential problems when people count on such jobs. In this case New York drivers and Uber.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/nyregion/uber-drivers-up-against-the-app.html?hpw&rref=nyregion&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

      From the article. “Mr. Diallo and his team have been working on a secret weapon: a driver-owned app to compete with those from Lyft and Uber, those from other ride-hailing companies like Gett and Via, and the taxi industry’s own two e-hailing systems, Way2Ride and Arro. The drivers designed the app themselves and have hired a company called Swift Technologies to build it. It could be ready as early as next month.”

      Obviously, there is still some road dust to settle.

      • 1mime says:

        “Mr. Wonderful” from Shark Tank would have one comment on this: “What’s to keep some other hotshot tech company from stealing your model?” One of the unassailable truths in technology appears to be that those who get there first aren’t guaranteed tenure.

        Job security a la tech seems fragile at best.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Good point.

      In an increasingly “sharing economy” where many workers will be contractors working freelance, universal healthcare is a necessity.

      • Griffin says:

        So is a basic income, since fewer people will have reliable, consistant work and will probably see large fluctuation in how much they are making month by month.

        Why not combine the negative income tax with the Basic Income? Just to start off have 50% of $28,000 be the negative income tax (creating a $14,000 dollar floor) and a small sum, say $1,200 a year, to boost everyone’s income. Perhaps age should be taken into account as well, with those who are 65 or older getting a ittle extra (say $2,000 a year).

        To start to pay for it create a 45% marginal income tax on income of one million and over, and 50% for income of five million and over. Combine that a .3% tax on financial speculation and raising the longterm capital gains rate by 3% on the top bracket. Introduce a tiny National sales tax (.2%?) since the poor would still get far more out than they pay in.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Any maybe more unions, co-ops that hire developers to create the apps that allow the members to have gigs in the sharing economy.

  2. flypusher says:

    More sanity (aka another voice in the GOP wilderness);

    http://m.theweek.com/articles/606687/how-trump-win-south-carolina-could-tear-gop-apart

    Although I understand this is like playing with radioactive fire in a toxic waste dump, I’m going to hope that the polls are right and Trump does win SC, for the sake of getting the author’s points through the thick skulls of the GOP establishment. I don’t like Trump and his supporters are scary, but they have some legit grievances.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I find Trump supporters far scarier then Trump himself. Cruz, of course, on the other hand is a different ball of wax.

      I just can’t shake my conviction that every night he takes off his human suit, folds it meticulously and places it in his closet, and then slithers over to bed. In the morning, he oozes back to the closet, puts his suit on, and then hits the campaign trail.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I should have added, Trump is clearly wholly unqualified for office, and is an absolute buffoon. But he’s not scary in the way that Cruz is. It’s obvious to me he doesn’t believe half the stuff he’s saying.

        Frankly, he seems too uncomplicated and simple minded to be evil.

      • 1mime says:

        Not evil, but maybe really bad decisions…….remember W.

      • flypusher says:

        I agree, Cruz is the scarier one. But Trump probably ensures that Cruz doesn’t get the nom. It’s Godzilla vs Megalon here- hopefully we don’t get squashed.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I think I want Cruz to get the nom Fly.

        His landslide defeat (which would almost certainly happen) would finally convince GOP leadership that the problem with the party is that it’s too far right. Currently, they seem to think the problem is that they’re not far right enough.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      From my experience with Trump supporters . . . The scary thing is that there are a lot of non-scary people who support Trump. A coworker of mine says Trump would be “business-friendly” and when Trump’s obnoxiousness is pointed out, he dismisses it by saying, “well, he is from New York, that’s just his style.”

      Other Trump supporters seem to find his confidence and sense of authority appealing, as compared to the other Republican candidates who they see as inept and vacillating.

      Even Republicans who can’t stand Trump say they would vote for him over Mrs. Clinton because he is the more “Christian” of the two.

      And then there are conservatives who like what Trump says but won’t vote for him because they don’t trust him and swear he’s really a closet Democrat who will turn traitor once elected.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I’ve noticed that Trump often uses a rhetorical tactic that involves first stating his overall good intentions and then saying, “however,” and going for the meat of his statement, which is usually what creates controversy, as in (I paraphrase in some cases):

        Regarding Mexican immigrants: “I want everyone to do well, but the American people should come first.”

        Regarding Muslims: “We need to be fair, but we must also be vigilant.”

        Regarding health care: “I want everyone to have coverage, but people need to provide their own coverage.”

      • flypusher says:

        And then we have the ones who cheer when Trump promises things “worse than waterboarding”.

        “Other Trump supporters seem to find his confidence and sense of authority appealing, as compared to the other Republican candidates who they see as inept and vacillating.”

        I’m thinking of a phrase Bill Clinton has used: “Strong and Wrong”. Too many people looking at just the first part.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        To whom was Bill referring when he said “strong and wrong?”

      • flypusher says:

        IIRC, it was W.

      • flypusher says:

        Wanders over to Google…..

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/clinton-offers-rx-for-ailing-democrats-03-12-2002/

        Actually a bit broader, as this was said after the 2002 midterms.

        And look, he was right about Iraq!

      • 1mime says:

        So is Trump (-: except about W….evidently he got some heat for his unkind, unequivocal criticism of W at the debate and has crawfished on that sweeping denouncement.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think Mr. Clinton was also right with his timeless observation that people should not panic.

        Wise words for this election cycle with all its “interesting” developments.

      • 1mime says:

        And, imminently easier to do before the reality of the election consequences. We can “what if” this campaign to death but once the results are in, living with outcomes is going to be really hard for the losers. Would that “losing” didn’t entail such grievous risk for either party. That’s not how things are. The frightening consequences of one party in THIS politically divisive environment taking all 3 branches of government is I believe to risk our Democratic way of life. For practical governance, having the presidency and Senate under one majority rule, but a bare one, and the House under opposing party leadership, would seem to at least allow government to “work”. As mean-spirited as conservatives have been in thwarting President Obama throughout his presidency over major issues, I cannot fathom an all-Republican scenario. Just cannot fathom it. I want our government to work for all of its people, and this is best achieved by vigorous, open and honest debate combined with compromise. That is not happening and hasn’t for years and I deeply believe it will have tragic economic and social consequences which posterity will record.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I keep saying we shouldn’t panic, but I don’t condone complacency or apathy either. If ever there was a time to vote it is now, so that the voice of each and every one of us is reflected in the election results.

      • 1mime says:

        Light a fire under that large, extended family, Tutta! The time is now.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Yes, ma’am, the ones who are American citizens. They are a healthy combination of Democrat and Republican, but one thing most of them have in common is they hate Donald Trump.

      • tuttabellamia, early in my career at Shell I found myself in a final round of prospect presentations to a man named Tom Hart, who was at the time the president of Shell Western E&P. Mr. Hart was a large, physically imposing hulk of a guy with tremendous personal charisma. It was my first meeting involving high-level management, so I was keenly curious about the whole affair. As Hart spoke, I allowed my eye to roam about the conference room. To my amusement, I saw a bunch of heads nodding up and down in agreement as Hart held forth. Then, to my utter dismay, I realized that my own head was nodding up and down, too. Such was the power of Hart’s personality.

        It was at that point that I first really grokked our primal primate nature – Hart was the silverback gorilla, and every other male in that room was subordinate, at some deep, biological level, including me. It took a very conscious effort of will to step back and shut out the power of Hart’s personality, and instead *hear* what the man was actually saying, and then *objectively assess* the content of his speech. Now, Hart was an extremely perceptive and talented oil finder, so I ended up respecting him simply for his intellect and business savvy.

        Trump, too, is a silverback gorilla. His appeal is visceral, not intellectual. Hopefully, as things progress, people will actually start *hearing* what he says, and paying attention to what he has done. When they do, they’ll realize the man is intellectually completely incontinent, and policy-wise, as inconstant as a weather vane.

      • flypusher says:

        “Trump, too, is a silverback gorilla. His appeal is visceral, not intellectual. ”

        That’s an excellent analogy. The human brain can override such instincts, but it takes work to do that.

      • 1mime says:

        The diminutive Truman must have been relieved that his lack of a silver stripe didn’t keep the voters from voting for him. Different times, and a most different crowd of voters.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        That’s a cool story Tracy. I had a boss at a previous job just like that.

        I agree much of Trumps appeal is on a primal level.

        Which, frankly, is not a great reason to vote for a POTUS if that’s the only one.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Tracy’s primacy story is apt. And that’s plays into why I find Trump disgusting.

        He’s a unattractive guy with a history of being bad at business.

        He has bad hair and he’s overweight, like a caricature of evil capitalism from a Nast cartoon.

        (I wonder if the media folks are absently nodding as they rush to cover him.)

        I’ve seen those guys — and watched them go all alpha when even mildly challenged — my whole corporate life.

        I’ve often wondered what our GNP would be if capitalists and business leaders were more whole brained, able to converse, able to be part of a team of problem solvers instead of the problem a$$hole in the room.

        I do not understand what anybody sees in Trump.

  3. 1mime says:

    And so it begins…..a ruling that could upend presidential temporary appointments to high level positions because.he.can’t.get.approval.from.Congress, will now probably make its way to SCOTUS for resolution. If there is a tied decision, it will remand to the lower court decision, and all these critical agencies that are functioning sheerly by the power of temporary appointment, will be turned on their heads. THIS is the crisis that will be repeated many, many times in the absence of filling the ninth slot at SCOTUS. Expect challenges to be filed in lower courts all over the place to take advantage of this tied court opportunity – especially if it’s highly controversial – because then it surely will tie and remand back where the lower court opinion wlll prevail.

    Hold onto your bootstraps. We’re running our country by political fiat. Full stop.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2016/02/18/are-actions-of-a-dozen-officials-in-various-agencies-void-because-court-says-they-are-ineligible-for-office/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_fed

  4. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Returning to the earlier discussion on Scalia, this Linda Greenhouse column on re-setting the Supremes is an excellent read, clear and beautifully written:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/opinion/resetting-the-post-scalia-supreme-court.html

    Excerpt:

    Contrary to the impression created by highly partisan Senate confirmation hearings, he said, Supreme Court justices are not in pursuit of an agenda and “don’t work as Republicans or Democrats.”

    Maybe not, but two weeks before the chief justice’s visit to Boston, the court, acting on its own motion, turned a statutory case into a major constitutional one when it expanded its review of President Obama’s deportation-deferral program to include the question of whether the president has violated his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” And a few days after the Boston visit, the court took the astonishing step of blocking the administration’s major climate-change initiative before a lower court had even had a chance to review it.

    The “take care” question mapped perfectly onto the dissent that Justice Scalia read from the bench in June 2012 when the court struck down portions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant statute. (Chief Justice Roberts was in the majority.) Justice Scalia took the occasion to excoriate the Obama administration for an earlier version of its deportation-deferral program — a policy that was not at issue in the Supreme Court case and had not even been announced when the case was argued.

    “Are the sovereign states at the mercy of the federal executive’s refusal to enforce the nation’s immigration laws?” Justice Scalia demanded, in a public performance that was as inappropriate as it was attention getting.

    The climate-change case was of great concern to me. I’m happy there’s a chance it will be considered differently.

    • flypusher says:

      It would be fitting if the righties lost a whole bunch of cases due to 4-4 ties.

      It’s better to get some of what you want than none of what you want, and the all or nothing approach is just plain asinine when the odds of all (a Justice just like Scalia) are such a long shot. But these are the people who touch the hot stove, get mad that their finger hurts, then punch the stove in retaliation, repeat.

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, but that may not work out exactly as we would expect or hope, Fly. Here’s another take and it looks further down the road. It is critical that the Senate flip or we may be looking at a SC that gets smaller and smaller as justices simply die off. Democracy and the Constitution be damned! It’s never been about these two basic tenets of our nation; it’s always been about power and control.
        The oldest are: Ginsburg and Kennedy. It is not inconceivable that conservatives would simply block any appointees of a Democratic President, allowing attrition to give them a working (living) majority. The thought of a Republican President and a majority Republican Senate is a horror I just can’t imagine.

        http://theweek.com/articles/606481/americas-supreme-court-nightmare

      • 1mime says:

        The Scalia problem just won’t go away. Here is a very clear explanation of why Republicans will not bend on holding a hearing or vote for any Obama nominee for SC. They’re playing with fire but one point for all liberals here is that Republicans clearly believe they can win the White House AND hold the Senate. If they didn’t, they’d be better off voting to approve a moderate O nominee now. That’s just a little warning for all who think it can’t happen.

        http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/mcconnell-faces-supreme-court-test-like-no-other-219530

    • 1mime says:

      Yeah, but the PP lower court decision will really hurt women’s health in TX. That’s the problem with a major issue being decided at a “hand-picked” judicial “friendly” district and not having full court review. There is little solace that the decision will “only” apply to this circuit, it will be used by other judges in other states.

      This is so wrong.

      • flypusher says:

        Kennedy remains the swing vote. iIRC, the crux of the case is whether the law creates an “undue burden”.

      • 1mime says:

        I wish I had more confidence in Kennedy. That judge down in south TX is as partisan as they come – which, of course, is why the original suit was filed there.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I don’t believe a precedent is set though. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that means it would be much easier tibget the court to take up the case again at a later time.

        Not ideal of course, but possibly a silver lining

      • 1mime says:

        On this issue, Rob, you can be certain that this circuit’s decision will become the Republican template for suits all over the United States. File the case in a friendly jurisdiction, send it up to SCOTUS, and it remands back due to tied court. Think it won’t happen? Conservatives will use whatever tactic at their disposal to take advantage of the 4-4 court. Or, imagine is Ginsburg dies – then you are conceivably 4-3. It’s ugly, it’s un-Democratic, and it’s certain if Republicans lose the Presidency and hold the Senate.

    • 1mime says:

      It’s official: a lawsuit has been filed to test Cruz’ eligibility to run for President.

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/illinois-court-cruz-eligibility

      • flypusher says:

        Best outcome, lower court rules against Cruz, SCOTUS splits 4-4, Obama’s picks says after the fact that s/he thought the suit was so much argle-bargle.

      • 1mime says:

        Cruz getting the nomination is a gamble for America. On the one hand, I’d rather he be nominated and lose resoundingly; on the other hand, I’m not confident that there are enough rational voters these days to make that happen….particularly if Sanders is the nominee. Lifer’s been correct thus far.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I’m pretty confident that anybody would beat Trump and Sanders in the general. Like, 99%.

        Remember, for all the appearance of strength for these two, its still among a pretty thin slice of the electorate (Republican primary voters). Both of these guys would lose landslides in the general. Yes, even to Bernie.

        Rubio, Bush et al is less certain. Although in this climate, its kind of tough to see the GOP get significant turnout if any of the establishment candidates win.

        On the other hand, Scalias death could change a lot. It might actually get the base pumped up even for sad sack Jeb (or whoever runs in the general)

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Rob – there are at least two sides to most coins, and a fair number of folks would suggest your statement could ring true with just minor tweaks.

        Remember, for all the appearance of strength for these two, its still among a pretty thin slice of the electorate (Republican primary voters). Both of these guys would lose landslides in the general. Yes, even to Bernie.

        Remember, for all the appearance of strength for Bernie, its still among a pretty thin slice of the electorate (Democrat primary voters in remarkably White states). He would lose landslides in the general. Yes, even to Cruz.

    • 1mime says:

      This was the phrase with Greenhouse’ piece that stayed with me: “These insights might help explain why someone as smart as Antonin Scalia seemed so un-self-conscious about his inflammatory rhetoric. He was simply giving voice to those he spent his time with. His world was one that reinforced and never challenged him.”

      FOX News? Engaging only with those who reinforce your beliefs? Was Scalia “leading” this element of society or merely representative? Isn’t this exactly the problem today?

      There has been the expected plethora of articles written about the President’s decision (and right) to nominate a justice to the court. Not to be outdone in petty journalism, Jonah Goldberg wrote a particularly slanted piece entitled (!!), “Obama Has a Chance to Reduce ‘Meanness”, that illustrates just how ugly and myopic conservative thinking really is. He states: ” Obama has always done his best to demonize and marginalize his opponents. Either the president honestly cannot see that, or he’s cynically pretending that the fault lies entirely with his critics.” (‘Regarding O’s recent IL address in which he stated that one of his few regrets was his inability to reduce polarization’.)

      Obviously, Goldberg is a staunch conservative – senior editor of National Review and fellow at American Enterprise Institute. However, that he would have the gaul to make this statement is beyond the pale, but, then, hasn’t this become the norm for the right? Has the verbiage become so vile that we don’t even react to it with disgust anymore? The utter disrespect and obstruction Obama has faced throughout his presidency goes well beyond policies and actions; rather, it has been very personal and very public. As Obama stated during one of his recent addresses, “I am not unhappy that I am not on the ballot for President.”

      Really. I’m insulted by Goldberg’s choice of words and his message. When you denigrate a sitting President of the United States, you denigrate Democracy. Respect the office even if you do not like the person elected to the position.

      http://host.madison.com/wsj/opinion/column/jonah-goldberg-if-obama-really-wants-to-reduce-meanness-now/article_857c89ec-860b-59a7-b426-5a1ab3699e8a.html

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Goldberg is a hoontsfootz.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t know that term “hoonzfoot” but it bothers me that the tenor of journalism has become so overtly mean and ugly. That Goldberg is simply wrong doesn’t mean that his words are not being broadcast so widely. The lack of respect for the office of president is more dangerous. And, this is a syndicated columnist that (not who) appears in national media….

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Seems there is some questions about exactly what Scalia was doing at the ranch where he died.

      Or, more specifically, who paid for it all. It turns out, the guy who owns the ranch (Poindexter or something) comped Scalia his time there. Its also not known who paid for his private jet there. Justices make a good wage at $220,000, but not really enough to join the jet set crowd.

      Poindexter had business with the SCOTUS, the court refused to hear a case last year related to a discrimination suit against one of his companies.

      I don’t think anybody is saying anything improper was going on just yet, but it’s a legitimate question and deserves a proper investigation.

      • 1mime says:

        Sounds like a conflict of interest to me, Rob. During his later years, Scalia just didn’t care what anyone thought. I wonder if this might cause any new legal re-visiting of the Poindexter case?

  5. Griffin says:

    Former Republican politician and current radio host Joe Walsh embraces the idea of open, violent rebellion against the US government. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/12/20/former-republican-congressman-calls-for-political-revolution-among-gop-and-has-eye-opening-words-about-violence/)

    ““It’s not going to get violent at first, but look, the two prior revolutions we had got violent — the American Revolution and the Civil War,” the one-term congressman continued. “Our founders believed that it may take violence to take back our country every now and then.””

    Please don’t tell me that if the GOP splits the far-right wing that spins off of it could start shooting. Or what if the GOP handidly loses this next election? They would lose the Presidency, the Senate, and the Supreme Court all in one go, and probably lose some House seats too. I really hope this doesn’t make some of them desperate enough to do something violent.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Not too worried. One sure way to stop this whie ridiculous sovereign citizen/militia movement real fast is for a few if them to start shooting.

      Public opinion will turn REAL quick and gov’t will get full support from the public. They’ll be finally seen for what they are.

      The Bundy debacle is a good example. There’s no doubt that none of them are happy with how their little adventure went. They didn’t score any ideological victories, and they just looked foolish and inept.

      Most of these clowns are cowards anyway. Except the odd wack job like Finicum, most of the “liberty or death!” rhetoric is child like in substance. These ppl aren’t really willing to die, they simply are confident they can say these things and not worry about strong gov’t action.

      Which is actually the perfect counterpoint to their whole concept of “government is tyrannical” argument.

      These guys are just a bunch of losers dwelling in.mom’a basement. There’s no revolutionaries here.

      • flypusher says:

        You didn’t read the comments did you? Chris has predicted that lower class Whites could resort to violence in a futile attempt to go back to their notion of the “good old days”. This kind of talk is one of the first signs. I’m not saying this sort of rebellion is inevitable, but rather we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility because these people look cray-cray to us.

        The whole sub-thread about the military turning on elected officials because they’re libs is very disturbing. And every day, as I flit through the web, I see this sort of treasonous derp. We need to be on guard against these people.

      • 1mime says:

        The reason it concerns me is that I move in an older circle of people and to hear the vitriol and threats coming from this group of old geezers is amazing. Now, they are less likely to pack heat like a younger militant person would, but it’s the atmosphere of hate that is so unsettling. Our nation is in a seriously volatile state right now.

    • MassDem says:

      Haven’t you heard of Newton’s 4th law (or 5th or 6th…I lose count)?

      “For every political action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.”

      Illinois gave us Barack Obama, so now we have to suffer this derptastic fool.

  6. lomamonster says:

    The first GOP politician who can come out with a message as strong as the new Safelite ad on TV will be one to watch!

  7. Bobo Amerigo says:

    The pope said that women facing zika could use contraception.

    Yay Pope!

    Okay, maybe not so yay. It referred to it as the lesser of two evils.

    Me, I believe they may not go back even if the zika situation improves. There’s power in family planning.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      he referred

    • 1mime says:

      You know what I think, BoBo? The young ones are already doing it, just feeling guilty as hell about it. Again – why not stop the sperm? (I noticed I didn’t have any “takers” on that question……Come on, guys, whadda ya think? Could you handle being the one who uses birth control?)

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I suggested this before, mandatory vasectomy for all males before puberty. Hopefully reversible, with written consent of a female partner?

      • 1mime says:

        That’s certainly a start. I wonder how many guys would be disciplined enough to take a daily pill, or have an implant replaced every 2-3 months…or any other “creative” approach that is approved but not necessarily paid for by their employer…..For too long, the burden of pregnancy has been on the shoulders of women with all the attendant cost, personal discipline and shaming that too often accompanies that decision. I think it’s time guys stepped up.

        As for whether the partner should agree – that would be up to the couple or, as I think is even better, the individual. After all, just as a woman has to bear and care for a child, a man also has responsibilities resulting from pregnancy and, therefore, he should be able to decide when he feels he is best able to accept the responsibilities of being a father.

        The thought occurred to me as a result of the Pope’s exception statement and got me to thinking what a double standard there is on the issue of family planning.

        Thanks for stepping up to the plate, unarmed!

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I wonder how many people would say that a government imposed vasectomy would be an imposition on their privates, err I mean, privacy. How dare the government tell males what to do with their bodies!

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t know, Unarmed, and we’re unlikely to ever find out. I’m not Catholic, but is it a sin for a male to have a vasectomy if he is married?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        The consequences of getting careless with birth control fall more strongly on women, so the “threat” is lessened for the dude, and thus carelessness is a bit more likely.

        Were I a woman, I’m not so sure I would be all that confident that the dude is carefully taking his birth control pill, especially since I would be the one more fully feeling the repercussions of carelessness.

      • 1mime says:

        You might feel repercussions, Homer, but you wouldn’t have to carry the baby (-: Guess the chief architect knew what he/she was doing by picking the “fairer” sex.

      • flypusher says:

        American Catholics have been ignoring the contraception prohibition for a very long time. If the rest of the Catholic world follows, good. It’s a stupid rule that causes too many problems.

  8. Ivar says:

    Going forward, the drivers in all of those companies are going to be more or less out of a job, as driverless cars come out. That being said, when does NYC make Manhattan a driverless only zone, eliminating the stop lights for walk buttons communicating with the driverless cars that communicate with each other to avoid slowing down (picture crisscrossing flow) in both directions. In high foot traffic areas overpasses. Eventually it will happen.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I can’t ever imagine REALLY driverless cars.

      Planes could take off, fly and land pikotless if we wanted them too. But for safety reasons, there’s always two flesh and blood pilots there.

      I think you might get to a point where a semi is driven without a driver DOING anything. But I think there will always BE a driver in the cab.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Good points, Rob.

      • For things like long distance trucking, wages are a huge proportion of the costs. Anyone who manages to build a truly driverless goods truck will stand to make a lot of money, and that’s the sort of thing that really can induce change.

      • flypusher says:

        I’m thinking of the car Will Smith had in “I, Robot”. It had a driverless mode and a manual override mode. It looked like a big pill, but I would so buy one of those if I could.

  9. 1mime says:

    Here’s another update on what is happening in LA, courtesy “former Gov. Jindal” and a Republican Legislature that won’t do its job. Jindal was supposed to be a financial wizard, he was supposed to be a health care expert. Turns out, he was neither. He was simply a disaster. Read below about what happens with conservative “experiments” for vital state services. There are real consequences and unlike Jindal, there are real people who are suffering.

    http://louisianavoice.com/2016/02/17/louisianavoice-reveals-pair-of-frustrating-episodes-that-reveal-problems-of-state-hospital-privatization-closures/

    • 1mime says:

      Be sure to read the comments below the LA Voice article. It’s worth your time to understand more fully the situation in LA and how it developed. I can’t help but think about Kansas. Another failed Republican experiment in governance and the people there, just as in LA returned him to office when they had a quality alternative. As such, I fault the people as much as the leaders, except that it is so hard to turn out an incumbent, even if they deserve to be axed.

  10. libtard says:

    Your critique of the NYC taxi industry is solid, but adding in this paragraph in the midst of it is pretty misleading as it could not be further from the truth. NYC taxi’s are highly regulated, yes, but those regulations lead to the opposite of this paragraph.

    “For consumers the taxi market is similarly lousy. Vehicles are consistently old and in minimal repair. Technology available to drivers to process payments is miserable, often improvised on the driver’s phone. Supposedly set fares always seem to inexplicably vary. Rides often end with a driver strongly suggesting that cash would be the best payment method, then making the electronic transaction take as long as possible. On short fares, the payment process can take as long as the ride.”

    Having just lived in NYC and taking multiple taxis, every one has been clean and new (with another newer model being ushered in right now). They all have standard rates. Drivers don’t talk to you. They are all outfitted with the same touchscreen POS payment machines that take all of 15 seconds to charge your credit card.

    • libtard says:

      Also, surge pricing is downright gouging for Uber. A taxi ride that would have cost $15 during rush hour cost $90 in an Uber. I understand the reasoning behind surge pricing, but I never took an Uber again after that.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        But you know how much it’s going to be before you order right?

        Its a pretty valuable service. If you absolutely need to be somewhere quick, you can pay for it. If you have time and you’d rather pay less, you can call a normal cab.

        Really no different between mass transit and cabs.

        If you NEED to be somewhere right now you can pay for it and take the quicker more expensive cab. If you have time and want to pay less, you can take a few subways for significantly less.

        It really just adds another level of service if you’re willing to pay.

        Uber will never totally eliminate traditional cabs for exactly that reason.

      • 1mime says:

        Don’t forget, Rob, that in many areas in the U.S., mass transit is very limited. I think this is one place where government can and should be involved. It’s a public good, it is efficient, and more environmentally friendly than millions of autos – Uber or not. By all means, challenge any existing service. For most millennials here, you did not experience the advent of “drive through windows” at food providers. The concept melded convenience and speed and spread to other entities – RX, alcohol )-:, dry cleaning, and so forth. What a simple idea but how neat!

        Today’s society and culture wants everything delivered quickly. While I appreciate convenience, I lament that “faster” seems to dominate every business service. It’s no wonder that to relax, many people seek meditation, yoga, massage, remote vacations as a change. Not many would go back to the old, slower way to doing things, but count me as one who thinks we have lost something special in rushing through every aspect of our lives.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a great piece on mass transit. I think it fits right in to the progress being made through the wonders of technology.

        http://www.politico.com/sponsor-content/2016/02/freight-rail-a-surprisingly-high-tech-industry?cid=20162AARfr

    • vikinghou says:

      I recently had the same experience in NYC. The taxis there have really upped their game.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer? Is there more to this “Uber” commentary? Could it be that the Uber experience is an example of a creative business that has flaws – flaws which ultimately will be regulated because it’s a safety and fairness issue? Flaws which are being glossed over (by the market) because they are a neat start up?

        I’ll bet the market will take care of the flaws but it might make the existing taxi business look a lot better if one looks more broadly and deeply at this concept.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: Taxi companies don’t want to go out of business of course, so start-ups like Uber are great for promoting an incentive for them to up their game or be left out in the cold. That, in turn, will have Uber seeking to further innovate itself and on and on it goes.

        This is all fairly predictable, but the bigger and more relevant question is which one, as a business model, will hit its limits first? As a start-up, it’s hard to argue that Uber doesn’t have a lot more freedom for innovation and control on the part of the driver. Taxis, as Lifer has already described, give way far too easily to corruption and the whims of officials that may not necessarily be in the workers’ best interests.

        Now that’s not to say that taxis won’t be around for a while longer. I believe they will, but the longer trends, IMO, would seem to favor start-ups like Uber. Furthermore, I think it’s really only a matter of time before people take the next logical step and start creeping into the bus and large-scale transportation arena. Like it or not, this growing force of competition and innovation is going to take us all to task in ways that are hard to imagine right now. It’s exciting to contemplate though. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        I applaud Uber and Lyft and other creative service providers. My point is that part of the allure is that “anyone” can basically do the job, with little regulation that is important to safety of vehicle and occupants. This may be the way of the future, but I think it is a matter of time when there will be problems associated with safety. Admittedly, I am not knowledgeable about the intricacies of the business model and I am a fan of thinking outside the box. I simply want to raise a little red flag that safety is one of those odious areas where regulations are important – over-regulation is not.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Safety is a viable concern, and unfortunately there’s no 100% guarantee when you’re dealing with a driver who is, frankly, a stranger, even if their background is squeaky clean and they pass a check. Uber’s made a good step in the right direction with its ranking system for both customers and drivers, as well as having an alert system.

        However, let’s say that a person has their smart phone taken away, what then? Is there a fail-safe for Uber that alerts someone if a destination hasn’t been reached within a certain period of time? Are authorities contacted at some point?

        In fairness, a recent article I read in Business Insider from a man who took on the task of being an Uber driver for a week remarked that many customers remarked at how safe they felt using the service, more so than a taxi in some cases. Certainly, that’s not an excuse to be lax or anything of the sort, but if we’re going to concern ourselves with safety, as we rightly should, then we should pinpoint out those specific areas that can be reformed and try to tailor our solutions as best we can.

        So, any ideas?

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, what are the insurance requirements? We carry higher limits than required, which not only gives us greater coverage for the vehicle, but also higher medical benefits in case there is an injury. I’m assuming Uber requires more coverage than minimal but should the coverage be ramped up at more of a commercial rate?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I think the safety tjing is more or less overblown.

        Someone interested in harming another would be pretty dumb to use Uber to do it. All transactions are recorded, of course. If someone goes missing, that Uber driver who we KNOW picked her up just before she went missing is going to get an awful lot of scrutiny.

      • 1mime says:

        No, Rob! I’m talking about accidents. Medical costs/exposure…that sort of thing.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Ohhh my bad 🙂

        There’s also the cost of fees/tickets. Driving as an Uber driver is a fineable offense in many cities, and I’ve even heard of stings where cops order a cab and ticket whoever shpws up.

        I could be wrong, but it’s still Uber policy to pay these fine.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, all it took was a little internet search to learn more about Uber/Lyft, etc. insurance requirements.

        https://wallethub.com/edu/ridesharing-insurance/13884/

    • goplifer says:

      Most of my experience with cabs comes from Chicago and SF. Haven’t been in NYC in a decade. That said, I bet the experience in the suburbs outside NYC is pretty close to what I describe.

      • 1mime says:

        Does anyone here in the Houston metropolitan area have any experience with UBER?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Yes, Mime, me. You can read some of my observations way at the bottom of this thread. I also have a lot of experience with Yellow Cab.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Maybe my posts are not detailed enough, but feel free to ask me any questions.

      • libtard says:

        Are the taxis in the suburbs outside of NYC under the same medallion regulations and prices as in the city?

        If not, then you’re combining the worst of NYC with the worst of other areas without mentioning that those are different places. The NYC model, while flawed, is extremely pro-consumer.

      • goplifer says:

        I can tell you with the confidence of experience that the system in Chicago is not pro-consumer. It is pro-medallion holder.

  11. Rob Ambrose says:

    From the other discussion re: Sanders vs Trump:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/donald-trump-south-carolina-cruz-rubio-219415

    Read this article from Trumps weirdo event last night. Read Trumps responses to questions. I mean…..seriously. How can anybody think that this rambling moron would win a general against a smart, popular candidate with detailed policies that are highly popular in poll after poll because of some scary ‘S’ word?

    Come on. Give the electorate more credit then that. Remember Trump is popular among about 35% of the Republican primary voters. Most “normal” people aren’t even thinking about politics too hard yet.

    There are tens of millions of moderate undecideds whonhave barely looked at the candidates yet. You think they’re going to vote for the guy whose response to “HOW will you get Mexico to pay for the wall?” was this:

    “Very simple. You have five different ways,” Trump responded. “No. 1 … We have a trade deficit with Mexico of $58 billion, all I have to do it start playing with that trade deficit, and believe me, they’re going to pay for the wall. You watch.” He never got to No. 2.”

    That’s almost breathtaking in its total lack of depth, complexity, accuracy and preparation, and it doesn’t say much for the intellect who could listen to that, and think this man is qualified to be president.

    You can’t “play with the trade deficit” like there’s a desk of levers in the oval office. Its a function of trade, a measure of it, not something you can directly move whenever you want.

    Or then there’s this gem when asked if he would assign blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict:

    “I don’t want to get into it for a different reason, Joe, because if I do win, there has to be a certain amount of surprise, unpredictability,” he said. “Our country has no unpredictability.”

    His new slogan: Making America Unpredictable Again!

    Seriously, its like reading a book of political mad libs. He just takes a stock phrase and uses a random word bank to fill in the blanks:

    “America gets crushed by *insert country name* all the time these day!”

    Or “our country has no *insert adjective* anymore”

    I guess it was just time to use “unpredictability” in that phrase last night. Mind you, none of his supporters stop to ask if “unpredictability” is a desirable thing of course.

    This guy will not win a general election. And if he does, then America will get the government it deserves.

    • flypusher says:

      This perfectly sums up my opinion of Trump:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-slansky-/trump-the-enemy-of-my-ene_b_9260758.html

      He is doing the country a service (in a very unintended way), but he is definitely unqualified for, and unworthy of the Oval Office.

      He’s definitely not my friend, but he is a sometimes useful thorn in the side of my political enemies.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I was able to watch a Republican debate for the first time for this election the other day because it was on broadcast TV, and it was a good experience for me, because I got to see and hear the candidates’ responses firsthand instead of going by excerpts and analysis by journalists and bloggers.

        Also, it allowed me to see Donald Trump for what he really is. Based on media reports that focus inordinately on him, I had somehow painted him out to be the anti-Christ or something similar, and I see now that he is simply a businessman turned presidential candidate. Just run-of-the-mill, nothing to fear or be outraged over.

      • 1mime says:

        Trump: “nothing to fear or be outraged over”.

        Unless he’s elected.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Even if that happens, ESPECIALLY if that happens, we should remain cool and methodical and not let his oversized image get the best of us.

      • vikinghou says:

        I’ll take Trump over Cruz any day. In my view Cruz is evil incarnate.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        It’s funny how we see things through a personal lens. I’ve taken a liking to Bernie Sanders because he’s the Jewish grandfather I never had.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Those of us of Mexican descent have a totally visceral, negative reaction toward Trump. He alienated us in a way no other candidate has ever done. He didn’t even try to sugarcoat his comments, which I know is his whole point, he’s proud not to be politically correct, but he will just have to suffer the consequences from certain quarters — not censorship, because he is free to speak his mind, but the lack of consideration as a viable candidate by a large swath of the population.

      • 1mime says:

        NPR reported today of Trump’s response to Pope Francis who was critical of building a wall to keep out refugees. To paraphrase, “If the vatican was ever attacked by ISIS, maybe the Pope would wish he had a Donald Trump to protect him.”

        No one is too important to be spared the vitriol of the Don. He is walking a dangerous path by challenging the Pope.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I knew it. He IS the anti-Christ!

    • 1mime says:

      America will get the government it deserves, but I won’t, and neither will those who don’t vote for him. Our political structure is not working very well to identify and elevate competent, outstanding candidates, is it?

      • 1mime says:

        In a wide-ranging press conference today, where the Pope addressed Trump’s Christianity and “the wall”, he also responded to the Zika virus problem in this way:

        “He said that contraceptives may be used in the case of mothers who may be trying to not to get pregnant because of the Zika virus.

        “Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” the Pope said. He urged doctors to find vaccines against the Zika virus.

        Would that his thinking on this subject embrace a broader view of allowing women contraception without Catholic guilt. Poverty comes from many causes and it can be improved by better family planning. Abstinence doesn’t always work and it never works if both parties are not cooperating. Why bring children into the world when there is no means to care for, feed, house, and nurture them? One day, I predict the Catholic Church will open its windows wide and not make its female congregants feel they are committing a mortal sin when they use contraception.

        In that vein of thought, why have contraceptives only been developed for women? Why not for men (and I am referring to a pill not a condom)? Is this sexist?

      • If there was a male contraceptive pill, I’d take it in a heartbeat.

      • 1mime says:

        Good for you, EJ. Fair is fair, right? Let’s spread the responsibility around and offer contraception that works for both genders.

  12. MassDem says:

    Here you go guys–looks like a nice place!

    http://cbiftrumpwins.com/#intro

    • 1mime says:

      Do they have snow there ? (-:

      MassDem – There is a comment on an earlier post by Lifer (Sanders and the Blue Wall) from “Linda”, which is enlightening about Kasich. I’ve read other “first hand” reports and he is not liked or admired in his home state. I asked OBJV to comment on Kasich since her family is there but she has yet to respond. FYI, here is the cut/paste comment to save you time:

      “Sorry you already have running the most unpalatable group of candidates you possibly could have gather on one stage. That includes Kasich. I am from OH and there is talk about how he can’t carry OH. If the democratic candidate in the last election did not have so many skeletons Kasich very well may have been a one term gov.. Here we know the real Kasich, not the one on the campaign trail.”

      On stage, Kasich sounds like the “reasonable, rational one”. Look more deeply. The devil you know may be much more palatable than the one in sheep’s clothing.

      • objv says:

        Ha! I knew there must have been a reason my ears were berning. 🙂 The only two people in Ohio I talked to about Kasich were my conservative sister and my liberal dad. Both thought Kasich was doing a great job. My dad’s approval surprised me because it’s been a long time since he’s volunteered anything positive about ANY Republican.

        That said, my sister’s preference for president was Rubio. Both dislike Trump.

        The only person in my family with whom I talk politics is my sister and we agree on almost everything. On the other hand, my dad and I disagree on almost everything, so it’s better not to get any arguments started. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Well, Ob, I asked, didn’t I? Guess the answer depends upon “who” you ask….which is what polling is all about.

  13. Glandu says:

    Funny thing : I seem to have read an article about french taxis.

    Only differences : there is no medallion here, there is a parking fee for the taxi stops(that the state sells in limited number for trinkets, and is valued 230 000 Euros just after, on the market). And our conservatives clearly have their part of guilt in the situation(after all, the socialists did not have any power for decades, before 1981). But for the rest, it’s striking similar.

  14. Thanks for this blog post regarding “Republicans missing our ride”; I really enjoyed it and am definitely recommending this blog to my friends and family. I’m a 15 year old with a blog on finance and economics at shreysfinanceblog.com, and would really appreciate it if you could read and comment on some of my articles, and perhaps follow, reblog and share some of my posts on social media. Thanks again for this fantastic post.

  15. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    This is amazing. Progress like this makes me feel like we’re really getting closer to beating cancer once and for all: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/promising-therapy-sends-93-percent-of-incurable-cancer-into-remission_us_56c3cbf5e4b0c3c550531fe5

  16. WX Wall says:

    You’re right that Republicans are missing this opportunity, and I bet in a few years, that opportunity will close…

    The Democrats are more pragmatic than you think. Yes, Uber has the potential to drive a wedge between the taxi medallion crowd and urban Democratic machines. And yet, despite that, Uber has (sometimes begrudgingly, and after delays) been allowed into most major American cities, all of which are dominated by Democrats. What’s more, Uber faces similar problems in cities run by Republicans; incumbent businesses and their crony ties to government is a bipartisan affair :-). And Taxi companies are being forced to adapt. Once Uber settles in, the opportunity will be lost.

    That said, this is a fairly narrow wedge: the vast majority of technological innovation isn’t about disrupting unions (at least, no more than most free trade battles which have been raging for decades). And it’s far outweighed by their dependence on government investment in education, urban infrastructure, R&D, etc. all of which are almost 100% aligned with Democratic goals and anathema to national Republicans.

    For example, it’s telling that for all his problems with entrenched local interests (both Dem and Repub), Uber’s CEO is a huge fan of Obamacare (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/11/uber-just-stuck-a-knife-in-the-gops-heart.html), because he rightly perceives that such a social safety net allows people the freedom to take self-employed freelance jobs like Uber driver. That’s far more important to Uber than a few temporary skirmishes with local govt.

  17. RobLL says:

    I think your evaluation of Uber and its drivers is hopelessly romantic. They have had to be forced to do better background checks of drivers. They are sponging off personal automobile insurance rates. They are cutting driver’s rates. Drivers are doing a lot poorer than Uber publicizes. All in all I think Uber is governed almost solely by its desire to be a $65 billion company.

    The romantic model they (and you) proclaim is actually a pretty good one. And the taxi model is terrible. What I see happening is Google, Apple, Facebook, and/or Amazon moving into the field in a big way, and in not too long.

  18. Stephen says:

    Nice post. But is good to hear the opposite opinion.

    http://robertreich.org/post/109894095095

    I tend to prefer empowering workers with more barter power than expanding the government into a nanny state. But growing up in rural Florida, I saw people work in the same way as Uber as contract employees picking fruit and vegetables. That was not a good deal for those workers. Maybe Uber is different. There is no pie in the sky. As responsible citizens we have to watch our society closely and try to make sure it is fair and inclusive for all of us.

    • Griffin says:

      Wow here’s one of his posts that would have been relevent in yesterday’s discussion. It’s a push against the more cynical Democrats. Gotta say he has a strong argument even though I don’t agree with pushing for a $15 dollar National minimum wage and am iffy about Single Payer as a means to universal healthcare.

      http://robertreich.org/post/138894376115

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        What is the issue with a $15 min wage?

        Just that you think it’s too high?

        Several cities have instituted that wage, Seattle for example, is already slowly moving up there.

        It will be interesting to see the results.

        I think it will be fine. Business will adapt. Customer service will greatly improve. Most of the cost will be passed on to consumers, and that’s not a bad thing.

        This isn’t a burden that business alone should have to shoulder. The consumer needs to shoulder some of it too. A big part of why wages are unsustainable low is that the consumer demands cheaer and cheaper products.

        If we say we don’t want to live in a society where the poor are so easily exploited, then we also need to understand there is a cost that comes with paying a living wage, and the consumer needs to continue to consume at slightly higher prices in order to pay for it.

        And of course, higher wages for the lowest earners will mean significantly more consumer demand then the equivalent amount of money if it flowed to the top 1%.

        In a city or state or country where the poorest workers get a raise, demand for all consumer goods is going to go up as well.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        I’m all for an increase, but I side more with Hillary Clinton in that I opt for $12/hr right now, indexing it to inflation and letting the broader economy take it away from there.

        Raising it too high too fast risks creating disruptions. Jobs with a minimum wage are slowly but surely phased out by that handy dandy tool called capitalism! Ever walk into a Wal-Mart or Target and see those self-use checkout lines? Perfect example of automation phasing out some jobs, small in number though they might be, which allows for the remaining workers to work at a higher tier.

        This isn’t instantaneous though. Innovation and conversion on this scale takes time to implement, hence why raising the minimum wage too high too fast can cause said disruption.

        Raising it modestly and indexing it to inflation is a perfect way of keeping the appropriate balance, allowing those unnecessary jobs to be phased out in a smart, efficient manner, driving economic growth and keeping those workers at just the right place where they can, with some appropriate assistance, invest in education so that they can move up to a much better, well-paying job down the road.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree. Cities that have a higher per capita income (Seattle) are better positioned to raise the hourly rates faster. Their workforce is more competitive and cost of living is higher. I agree with wage increases but I also think it should be locally determined as to how much and how fast. The problem has been that business has squeezed the worker unfairly and there has been little recourse for the worker who desperately needs a job. This is what makes unions so compelling. Alone, the worker labors on ineffective against the business that controls his life; in a group, there is strength. Want to end unions? Pay people living wages and offer fair benefits. Then they have no need for group protection.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        It’s an interesting dilemma, Republicans cutting themselves off at the knees yet again. In all likelihood, they could make some decent inroads if they were to openly support a minimum wage increase and try to cajole a deal with Democrats on union rights in exchange for trying to curb some of the corruption that so often plagues minorities. Even if said deal fell apart, Republicans could use it as a wedge issue to help splinter African-Americans away and start turning back to the Party of Lincoln (whatever that may mean these days…)

        …Yeah, lemme know when the pigs starting flying, would ya?

        That aside, this does look like an easy issue to solve. Set a basic federal minimum wage of $12/hr, indexing it to inflation and allow the states and localities to raise it further if, like Seattle, it’s reasonable and necessary. Problem solved. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, and pay for it by changing the COLA indexing formula for SS recipients. Raise on the front end, cut on the back end. Who needs all these tax draining old folks, anyway!

      • 1mime says:

        I thought this article about millennial active technological assistance to Bernie’s campaign was worth sharing. Passion, personified.

        http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/bernie-sanders-army-of-coders-2016-213647?utm_source=atl-politics-daily-newsletter

  19. “…regulatory capture…”

    Those two words pretty much encapsulate everything that is wrong with our federal government, our economy, and our political system. The larger and more intrusive the federal government becomes, the more it becomes an attractive nuisance to corporatism and crony capitalism. When government insists on sticking its nose deep into the private sector, large corporations discover they have a vested interest in influencing government regulation in any and every way possible. Thus we end up with legislative monstrosities like Dodd-Frank and PPACA. Such legislation by definition disadvantages start ups, small and mid-sized businesses in comparison to the large corporations that steer such legislation. These laws and the bureaucratic nightmare they engender are the very epitome of regulatory capture; they are anti-competitive by their very nature.

    And then we wonder why we are stuck with 2% economic growth, a shrinking middle class, and declining median income. And with both parties utterly beholden to the donor class, we puzzle over the sudden popularity of the likes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Lord, help us. We don’t just desperately need free enterprise in this country; we desperately need to *free* enterprise.

    • Griffin says:

      “When government insists on sticking its nose deep into the private sector, large corporations discover they have a vested interest in influencing government regulation in any and every way possible”

      Corporations figure that out pretty quickly regardless of current government policies. The Gilded Age started off about as laissez-faire as you could reasonably get but it didn’t prevent corruption of government. How is Dodd-Frank a “monstrosity”? It has issues but it’s surely better to have it than to not have it.

      “We don’t just desperately need free enterprise in this country; we desperately need to *free* enterprise.”

      The problem is there is no such thing as a truly “free” market except in a sort of capitalist utopia. For the same reason communism fails basic human nature prevents any sort of free market from occuring due to accumulation of wealth and power into monopolies. And no matter how hands off you try to be they will virtually always influence government after they have enough power.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yes, too much regulation is bad. So is too little.

        The sweet spot, like with so many other things, lies somewhere in the middle.

        Repealing glass-steagel was probably the single most relevent factor for the subprime crisis

      • No argument with your points, Griff. I instead refer you to the immortal J. Madison, Federalist #51 (http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa51.htm):

        “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

        There is a reason why our government was laid out with strict limits and rigorous separation of powers, Griff. We deviate from that plan at our own jeopardy. When it comes to government in any form, more is almost always just more cow bell.

      • Rob, it’s probably worth noting that Glass-Steagall, which served us reasonably well for almost seven decades, was all of 37 pages long. Dodd-Frank, on the other hand, is in the neighborhood of 850 pages long. As I seem to be on a Madison shtick today, I refer you to Federalist #62 (http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa62.htm):

        “The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

        Another executive order, anyone?

      • goplifer says:

        And just to add, the Securities & Exchanges Act of 1933 was originally 60 pages long. Dodd-Frank was over 2000 pages and didn’t accomplish as much.

        http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2012/04/our-most-overregulated-underregulated-industry/

    • goplifer says:

      I’d like to point out one niggling detail that pertains to the usual libertarian orthodoxy on regulation. This is entirely a local matter.

      With Uber, as with almost all of the rest of the innovations touched on in this piece, the main obstacle is the kind of local rule-making that libertarians generally default to. I’m not aware of one Federal law standing in the way of Uber’s business model, or that of AirBnB, Task Rabbit or the others.

      • ” I’m not aware of one Federal law standing in the way of Uber’s business model, or that of AirBnB, Task Rabbit or the others.”

        Indeed, Chris. It’s part of the reason why they are flourishing. Local barriers, while not insignificant, are far less of an obstacle that federal barriers. The local barriers being encountered by these businesses are examples of regulatory capture, too, just at a different scale. Government always lags in response to new, disruptive forms of commerce. But sooner or later, government will try to stick its nose under the tent, whether wanted, needed, or not. E.g. Net neutrality, which must, of course, by the very definition of human nature, be anything but neutral. (See Madison, above.)

      • Tom says:

        Net neutrality is a strange example to use, because the reason cable companies are fighting against it has mostly to do with keeping alive a 20th-century business model.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m unfamiliar with the intricacies of Uber and Lyft’s business structure, but aren’t some of the protections offered through taxi licensing valuable? Insurance requirements, background checks, etc? If one is a passenger in an Uber vehicle and there is an accident, are simple minimum insurance limits all that is available for injured parties?

    • 1mime says:

      “Free enterprise” – yeah, Tracy. With the benefits of all that taxpayer funded transportation system, airports, tax zone benefits, municipal tax breaks, etc. etc. Think that taxpayers aren’t subsidizing these? It’s time that proponents of free enterprise acknowledge that there are many benefits to government that assist a capitalistic society. We agree that it needs to be efficient and effective, but I sense from your comments that you disdain government period, and that’s where we part ways.

      • Actually, 1mime, I don’t disdain government at all, at least not when it is properly constrained. Where you and I part ways is on the extent to which government should intrude into our lives. My position is that any good or service that can reasonably be provided by the private sector *should* be provided by the private sector. Free enterprise is, by its very nature, an entirely *consensual* phenomenon. Government, by its very nature, in *anything* it does, is always backed by the *threat of force*. Given the choice between a consensual transaction and a potentially coerced transaction, I’ll take the former every time. When it comes to government, that makes me a minimalist.

      • 1mime says:

        We’ve had this discussion before, Tracy, and always seem to come down to “degree” of, versus absence of. While I agree – generally – that government should not “intrude” into one’s life, I have a wider threshold of tolerance and greater trust in the innate good of government than you do. Obviously, that doesn’t make me correct and you incorrect, or conversely. We have both been in business and experienced the joyful experience of government helping us operate. To the degree that safety and fairness are involved, I’m perfectly fine with that. Now, I find myself becoming very cynical because the checks and balance that I believe is critical to Democracy is failing. The “common good” is being usurped by “my, me, mine” governing philosophy. here are many who share the same concern with a different ideology. Surely, it would be better for our nation if we could get back to a place where differences can be bridged rationally and intelligently, and where government in whatever form the people of our nation want, can function effectively. The one point upon which we should have complete agreement is that that is not happening now. I believe that is undesirable and dangerous.

  20. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    BTW, has anyone else seen this latest report out by PPP? If this is anywhere close to the truth, it’s no wonder why Clinton’s team has exuded such confidence about going into March.

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2016/02/clinton-leads-in-10-of-12-early-march-primaries-benefits-from-overwhelming-black-support.html

    • 1mime says:

      The Gallup poll I posted a couple of days ago pretty much says the same thing…..IF these voters turn out.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Valid point, but it’s also fair to say that there would have to be quite the disparity between what we’re seeing in the polls and actual voter turnout for Sanders to close, let alone overcome his gap with Clinton. Iowa and New Hampshire have shown strong Democratic turnout (though not as strong as in 2008, of course) and Nevada’s voter registrations have shown an incredible spike across the board. Do we have any reason to believe that these states are going to be that much different?

      • 1mime says:

        As I recall, the next block of states is the southern cluster. These are die-hard red states and I don’t know if the minority vote will turn out for a primary. They probably will for a general, but that might be too late.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        But given how invested African-Americans in particular are in seeing who the next POTUS is, wouldn’t that be an incentive for them to turn out? In addition, we also have to keep in mind the respective Sanders and Clinton campaigns that will be working their ground games in order to turn people out.

        To be fair, I’m not saying that the numbers we’re seeing are how it’s going to turn out on Super Tuesday or March 8th, but I do think it’s fair to argue that, as I’ve said before, there would have to be an incredible disparity between what the poils are showing and actual voter turnout in order to flip all that around. That we’re moving into the red states is worthy of consideration, but I just think that the margins would have to be a whole lot closer in order for something like that to play a deciding factor.

  21. irapmup says:

    “Wouldn’t it be great for Republicans to line up behind a massively popular force that pits entrepreneurship and innovation against corrupt political interests?”

    There is no real difference between those who feed at the trough whether D or R. We don’t need political parties we just need a government that works.

    • 1mime says:

      Agree, Irap. Both parties have their problems. I will say that there are good examples at the state level of successful governing by both parties. That, to me, usually speaks more to quality leadership and strong individuals than party. Good governing isn’t party-dependent. I think both parties need change and embracing a more forward thinking, entrepreneurial approach is a winner. Both parties have strengths. What’s really a shame is that the political process doesn’t allow us to benefit from the respective strength of each party. In a Democracy, that’s how it is supposed to work. Then, creative market forces drive governing into bright new ways of achieving results and delivering services. We shouldn’t have to depend upon one party for this; rather, it should be through a process whose focus is best practices, irrespective of politics.

      Call me naive, but this is how a competent, quality governing process “should” work. Then technology and creativity are simply wonderful tools to achieve the end goal of serving the people in the most efficient, cost-effective manner. It’s really that simple. Or, should be. I know Republicans like to think of themselves as the “most” efficient, best financial managers, but history doesn’t support this claim as a constant. Both have room for improvement and both can learn from private industry as long as the private business model respects the differences inherent in the delivery of government services. Improve as possible and desirable, but never lose sight that government’s job is more challenging. Borrow the best and do the best you can to get the job done.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, but you are more likely to vote Democrat, aren’t you?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        In other words, you do have a preference that is along party lines.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Or do you just vote for whom you consider to be the most competent individual, and they just happen to be Democrat?

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, I am more likely to vote Democrat when there are good choices. In TX, as you know, not only are there few Dems running but some aren’t competitive or well qualified. Certainly not always, but when that is the case, I either leave that slot open (don’t vote for either) or I vote for the best candidate – in the primary. I want my vote to count, and sometimes that means I am voting for the best Repub on the list. In the general, you have to choose a party and for me, unless and until the Republican Party makes some pretty substantive changes, that will be the Democratic Party. It better “fits” my values and beliefs.

        There is nothing wrong with supporting the party of one’s choice. What is wrong are the impediments to things such as voting access, fairly drawn districts (both parties guilty but GOP more so), and issues being won on any basis other than its own merits. If districts are more diverse, governing will reflect the dichotomy of interests and needs. That’s the practical application of fairly drawn, diverse and balanced districts. Then, you can truly focus on the individual rather than the party – who can get the job done as opposed to who has the most money to GOTV or push the most TV ads, etc. Good government should be about the best candidate for the job – EVERY time, irrespective of party. I have voted Republican many times but less recently because the candidates hew to GOP hard lines that I cannot accept.

      • 1mime says:

        On the subject of voting and Supreme Court turmoil due to Scalia’s death, in their first action as an 8-person court, the SC upheld a lower court ruling that requires the majority Republican NC State Legislature to re-draw the redistricting maps as they were “impermissibly tainted by race”. Surprise, surprise. Of course, the Legislature dragged things out purposefully in order to crowd the judicial process right up against the primaries. Undoubtedly, they believed that they’d get a sympathetic decision that would allow the flawed maps to proceed simply due to the exigencies of time. This has worked for them numerous times in the past, but not this time. Evidently, the SC saw through these ploys and “essentially” told them to stuff it and make it right. What happens next is a bit muddled.

        Fundamentally, the voting map process needs to be changed nation-wide so that one man one vote and fairness are protected and shenanigans like this don’t occur routinely. Furthermore, delay tactics designed to impede the time available to a deliberative process should be met with severe penalties. It’s become a game, a very ugly game with the courts being placed in a terrible time crunch to make rulings that abut the primaries. Chief Justice Roberts has publicly stated that there are crisis areas across the nation due to lack of sufficient judges. Obviously, nominees exist but Congress is sitting on them. I would think that the existing jusitices would be fed up being overworked and justice being denied or stalled. The GOP has used this ploy countless times and it must stop. Consider this: the SC Justices earn $246K/year. People of this legal statue, if they chose instead to work in the private sector, have tremendous earnings potential. Prestige aside, when the work load becomes intolerable and caring justices see justice being denied due to crowded dockets, how can our justice process function as intended?

        Bravo, SCOTUS. I like your first decision. May this be followed by many more that hew to the model of fairness. I’ll take “fairness” over partisanship every time. It doesn’t scare me at all. However, a tied court is untenable as it will leave important decisions unresolved and a maze of jurisprudence conflicts across the nation, but at least they started well. Maybe a few more decisions like this one will send a message to those who are playing games with our court system.

        Reasonable arguments obviously will not influence this obdurate GOP, therefore, all we can hope is that the SC and lower courts will be able to somehow make it work as best as possible. I hope that there is enough pain and difficulty from this arbitrarily tied SC that the patience threshold of our judges will finally erupt and result in public outcry directed at those who are gaming the system.

        http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/supreme-court-will-wont-block-north-carolina-redistricting-order-219457

    • Well, irapmup, the best path to “a government that works” is to simply have less of it. A lot less.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        With all respect, Tracy, simply shrinking government for its own sake serves no purpose other than self-satisfaction. Government must meet the demands and needs of the people in as efficient and streamlined a manner as possible.

      • 1mime says:

        You, my friend, are nothing if not consistent.

      • Creigh says:

        Government is to a large extent an attempt to put controls on human interactions. As human interactions increase in scope and complexity, government tends to increase also. If you want “less government” the way to achieve that is to live in a cabin in the wilderness. On the other hand, if you live in the middle of a million people, a certain number of whom don’t give a damn about anyone else, you’re going to need a few rules.

        The only practical way to shrink government is to reduce the scope and complexity of human interactions, and good luck with that.

  22. Tom says:

    And don’t forget parking lot owners, who have a lot to lose from the fact that from many places inside the 610 Loop, an Uber ride downtown is cheaper than parking downtown.

  23. 1mime says:

    Technology can do more to encourage, if not outright “force” evolution of the nation’s business model through changing its political model by its simple application to the voting process. Empower people through the internet and the revolution has wings. There are lots of constraints enforced by both parties whose time has come. Surely, voting by internet or text is a major first effort to get our country moving differently.

    Another benefit of Uber is with non-emergency transport of people who have health issues that limit their driving ability. America is graying – self-driving cars may one day fill this gap but often the individual may require some assistance. Nothing major, but some, and the freqency of appointments, etc. create significant costs for people in this situation which at the very least should be competitive. As an example, for a round trip to a doctor’s appointment in a wheelchair accessible van, for 5-6 miles, the cost averages $90/trip. It is deductible on the back end but out of pocket on the front end. And, believe me, you don’t recover all you spend on services like this. How about a “super-uber” for handicapped transport?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Mime, I’ve been meaning to ask you . . . Do you and your husband vote by mail, since you’re over 65? Because of his Parkinson’s, if your husband is unable to write in his vote on the mail-in ballot, can he at least express his vote to you so that you can enter it on his ballot? Is he still of sound mind?

      • 1mime says:

        Is he of sound mind? Well, he is married to me, so I guess that’s in question (-:

        He does vote by mail as do I except in primaries as I need more time to read the endorsements, etc. Frankly, he depends upon me to research these issues and candidates and votes as I suggest. He does watch the debates with me and is still intellectually alert enough to form an opinion, but does not have the mental acuity to read daily newspapers or the internet research.

        I am so driven by our responsibility to vote that we hire transport to get to the polls. They can bring a portable voting tablet out to the van where he can make his selections. I usually have figured things out in advance and he marks as I suggest.

        He did make a quiet little unsolicited comment after watching the last Clinton/Saners debate. He said: “She’s head and shoulders more qualified.” So, just when I think he “can’t” think critically, he comes out with something like this.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        No offense, and I hope I have misunderstood, but from what you say, I get the impression he many not have the mental acuity to make his own decisions and you are making his voting decisions for him.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        My mom became a naturalized US citizen when she was 65 and voted for the first time ever when she was elderly. She didn’t know English very well and was afraid of the voting machine, so I would go into the booth with her and help her with the voting process. However, I never told her how to vote. While in the voting booth with her I would simply explain propositions to her, as in “if you are opposed, you should vote yes” (the wording is complicated even in Spanish) and show her how to turn the dial and push the button, etc. In fact, she would usually vote in the Democratic primary while I voted in the Republican, so we would go to different locations or rooms.

        Sometimes she was clueless about which candidate to choose and would look at me inquiringly and I would shrug my shoulders and say, “Sorry, it’s up to you.”

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, as I explained, he cannot research these issues and candidates on his own, but wants to vote. I have no problem making recommendations to him and he has great confidence in my judgement. He can barely sign his name, and he has difficulty with the “wheel” process, but there is always someone from the poll who monitors and helps with the equipment. But, to answer what I think is your real question, yes, I help him make his voting decisions. I don’t force him to vote and I will help him vote for as long as he wants to and can do it.

    • “How about a “super-uber” for handicapped transport?”

      Hmm. Sounds like a business opportunity… 🙂

  24. Rob Ambrose says:

    Great piece Chris.

    Seems to me in my entirely unscientific anecdotal opinion that Republicans do a better job at the municipal level then Dems.

  25. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    I’ve never really looked into Uber before, and since I don’t live in a big city, I’ve never had an opportunity to try it either, but I figured this was a good time and so I decided to see what it’s all about.

    Really, my only overarching concern was with safety. While drivers should and do have to go through a background check, shouldn’t it still be possible for some to abuse the system? Apparently not, since Uber’s app allows people to rank both drivers and riders in order to keep that kind of abuse in check and, y’know, make it so that if you’re an asshole, you pay for it. 🙂

    Even knowing all that though, I wanted some first-hand experience from someone who’d worked with Uber personally and see what they thought of it. This article, IMO, came across well to me and I was curious to see how it brought up a lot of the points that Lifer made: http://www.businessinsider.com/i-drove-for-uber-for-a-week-heres-what-its-really-like-2015-2

    All in all, Uber sounds pretty damn cool. Mayhaps when I get a new car that’s better suited for it, I’ll give it a go myself. 🙂

    • tuttabellamia says:

      For what it’s worth . . . from my own experience . . . Uber drivers seem happier and the overall mood in an Uber car is “lighter.”

      Traditional cab drivers tend to complain about one thing or another, and I can feel the tension and the “heaviness” when I get into one of their cabs.

    • 1mime says:

      Maybe Lifer would suggest that if you drive for Uber, you could afford a better car!

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Nice idea, but I’ve already got a plan to buy a new car in about two or three years. If I factor Uber in though, it might change my idea of what car I was gonna buy, specifically.

  26. tuttabellamia says:

    Lifer wrote: “Instead . . . we’re promising to . . . shut out immigrants”
    ************************
    This does kind of tie in with the cab business. Many traditional cab drivers in Houston complain that their business has gone downhill because of “all those immigrant African drivers giving us a bad name,” and I know of people who use Uber instead of Yellow Cab to minimize the chance of getting an immigrant driver.

  27. tuttabellamia says:

    I have used both Uber and traditional cabs in Houston and I prefer Uber, although I continue to give business to a certain traditional cab driver purely out of loyalty. Traditional cab drivers, at least in Houston, have few of the supposed benefits that are touted by people who would ban Uber.

    One improvement that Uber could make would be to accept cash payments. A lot of elderly, low-income people take cabs, and these people tend not to have credit cards, which are currently the only form of payment with Uber. Plus, they tend not to have smart phones, so getting a cab may be impossible, so calling Uber and speaking to a live person ought to be an option. And these are the people who would most benefit from the low-cost rides that Uber offers.

    • pbasch says:

      Absolutely – I have a disabled relative who can’t afford and can’t use a smartphone, but he needs rides. He can, though, call for a taxi. If “ride-sharing” services want to displace taxis, they should provide phone service. Yes, I know! That spoils the whole “we don’t have employees” shtick.
      As for national health, like the French have… yes, that’s what they have. A heavily-regulated, government funded healthcare system that isn’t created by private insurers and big pharma. And yes, it’s one of the best in the world. Certainly, Chris is right that healthcare needs to be decoupled from employment. In fact, (I think) the CEO of Uber said that his model wouldn’t be possible without Obamacare.
      Chris, you’re right that being drunk on racism and the addictive high drama of anger prevents the GOP from pursuing solutions that might attract young tech-savvy voters. But telling them that (see other comment) while they may be making a pittance with no security – but no boss either – but the big upside that they don’t have to wait a week for their meager earnings, because tech… that’s a sad, pessimistic message. Especially compared with the sickeningly exciting message of “I can dominate the poor and brown, just like my rich boss!”

    • objv says:

      Tutt, I’ve enjoyed reading your latest comments and replies. Thanks for allowing us some insights into your life.

      Your comments about family values were especially interesting. It’s fascinating how culture and personality can have an influence on how open one is to sharing information.

      One of my neighbors is Navajo and she told me that Navajo people typically don’t like to talk about personal problems or illness, but when she found out she had cancer, she made a point to tell another neighbor and me when she saw us walking outside. She said that the home she was raised in was Christian and she was always encouraged to be open so “burdens” could be shared. I think her personality also has much to do with her attitude. I grew up with the same mindset but usually don’t share much about personal problems.

      I didn’t grow up with a large extended family like you did. My church became family. Since the majority of the members were from immigrant families like my own, they became my aunts, uncles and cousins. I called most of the older adults “Onkel” or “Tante.”

      I can’t say I’m currently a good Christian and my attendance has been spotty of late, but when “family” is attacked, I come out the woodwork to defend them. This explains why I comment frequently when the discussion turns to denigrating Baptists. 🙂

  28. Its even cheaper than $18,000. An Uber/Lyft Driver Could find a Nissan Versa or Hyandai Accent for Under $10,000 and become a Driver within 10 days. From the time I Put in the Application with Uber to being allowed to hit the Road was 10 days and with Lyft it was 12. Lyft has also innovated the Pay Feature, once a Driver hits $50, they can cash out instead of waiting for a Dircect Deposit 5-7 days later. These Companies continue to innovate.

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