November 2, 2012
"Some of the regulatory efforts are legitimate and aimed at passenger safety and a level playing field. Others are purely smokescreens from incumbent transport companies who have been able to get away with providing crappy services in the face of no competition."

Uber NYC & the Surge: Right, Wrong, Lessons Learned is a good piece by Hunter Walk on the lessons available for the trendy taxi service that pissed off a whole load of Sandy-sufferers by promptly raising prices. Uber’s been getting a whole load of press recently (see also Paul Carr's Travis Shrugged: The creepy, dangerous ideology behind Silicon Valley’s Cult of Disruption which is both a rambling article in need of a good shake and one that makes good points about the reality of disruptive innovation.) As someone who was once jumped on by a minicab driver in London*, I err on the side of doing everything possible to ensure passenger safety, even as I see that incumbents will cling to any measures they can in order to keep on providing those same old crappy service. This isn’t a black and white issue, but it *is* one that warrants close attention from people who have mastered joined-up thinking. 

* I hasten to add, I was fine. Unlike the driver’s car, which I’m pretty sure I dented when I jumped out and kicked it.

[Hunter Walk’s story via Jessi Hempel.]

July 18, 2012
"Government spending is not a single-step transaction that burns money as an engine burns fuel; it’s part of a continuous feedback loop that circulates money. Government no more spends our money than a garden spends water or a body spends blood. To spend tax dollars on education and health is to circulate nutrients through the garden."

— This smart NYT op ed, The Machine and the Garden, makes the case that the economy is an organic, naturally impaired system, not a perfectly working machine. As the authors write, “An economy isn’t a machine; it’s a garden. It can be fruitful if well tended, but will be overrun by noxious weeds if not.” I also liked this statement, and wonder if we’ll ever be able to move on from tedious argument on the topic: “Empirically, trickle-down economics has failed. Tax cuts for the rich have never once yielded more net revenue for the country. The 2008 crash and the Great Recession prove irrefutably how inefficient and irrational markets truly are.”