Opera singer, blogger, lawyer. You can reach me by email at david [at] bluemassgroup [dot] com.

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  1. Anyone seriously thinking about Tisei (1 Reply)

    needs to think about John Boehner. Elections like this are in substantial part about the balance in the House. Until Tisei openly proclaims that he won’t support the current GOP leadership, a vote for him should be considered a voter for Boehner.

  2. I'm wondering whether (3 Replies)

    this is sort of a “gut feeling” argument. In some respects, surge pricing “feels” wrong. After all, it is jacking up the price of something exactly when people need/want it most, right? Isn’t that taking advantage of the circumstances to make a quick buck?

    Well, sorta. But it does neither Uber nor its would-be customers any good if, during peak usage hours, the demand so overwhelms the supply of drivers that only a small percentage of people can get a ride. If you’ve ever tried to get a Boston cab during rush hour when it’s raining – and this is a problem even in NYC where the supply is much higher – you know what I’m talking about.

    Uber has, basically, one tool with which to try to control that problem, and surge pricing is it. It gets more drivers on the road, and it discourages some customers from calling a ride. Does it mean that, when surge pricing is in effect, the average wealth of a typical Uber user will be higher than when it’s not? Maybe – it would be interesting to know. I’m just not sure that that makes it necessarily a bad thing, nor a good thing. It’s simply a feature of any supply and demand system.

  3. Well, (2 Replies)

    that’s not really how it works. Look at the price of gasoline, which in recent weeks has dropped rapidly. We all know that’s a commodity whose price fluctuates all over the place, often day-to-day and week-to-week. Or think about the stock market. No fixed prices there – indeed, that’s the point.

    At the end of the day, every business operates based on supply and demand. IMHO your expectation that a business should “set a price, and raise it occasionally” is due more to inertia on certain businesses’ part (it’s easier and less work not to be constantly adjusting your prices based on current market conditions, even if it’s less efficient) than it is to any generally understood and respected norms of how the marketplace should operate. Technology makes it easier to assess the market, and to change prices rapidly. Just as technology has made Uber’s business possible at all, it has enabled Uber to price its services differently than car services have traditionally done.

  4. "Uber by definition has no motive to discourage use" (1 Reply)

    This is true, sort of. Obviously, Uber wants people to use their service. But it’s also I think indisputable that, when surge pricing is in effect and is clearly announced when you summon an Uber (as noted above, that has been the case when I’ve used it, though I gather the complaints claim that it’s not always so), there will be people who choose not to call the car precisely because of surge pricing. Uber knows this.

    I don’t doubt that Uber carefully calculates when to use surge pricing, and how much of a surge to impose at any given time, in order to maximize the amount of money coming in. (If your fares are double, you can afford to lose a few and still make more money than you would otherwise.) But, I mean, that is exactly how we’d expect a rational market participant to behave.

  5. There is another possible purpose for surge pricing, (2 Replies)

    which is to increase supply (as well as to reduce demand). If drivers know that surge pricing is likely to be in effect at certain times (say, rush hour, or 2 am when the bars close), they’ll have an incentive to work during those hours, thereby making it possible for more people to get rides. No?

  6. As far as I know, (0 Replies)

    no direct aid, but assistance of other kinds. Globe story from 2010.

  7. "it is not at all true for the vast majority of athletes" (0 Replies)

    I’m not talking about the athletes – I’d have thought that went without saying. I’m talking about all the stuff that surrounds the games.

  8. Power (1 Reply)

    It’s the other thing money can’t buy. (Though having money doesn’t hurt.)

  9. Yeah, that makes total sense, (1 Reply)

    since she’s spent years of her career in an office specializing in child protection.

  10. I don't oppose outsourcing per se - (1 Reply)

    as I said in the post, there was “nothing wrong with” moving IT operations to Perot, “exactly.” Though oetkb raises an interesting question below: if a health insurer can’t handle claims processing or billing, then what, exactly, is it doing?

    Anyway, the campaign issue is obviously the offshoring aspect. American jobs sent to India. More than just bad optics.

  11. If that's due to surge pricing itself, (1 Reply)

    then it makes no sense. However, apparently there were complaints that surge pricing was not clearly indicated (not consistent with my experience), and that credit card charges did not match the email receipt (also not consistent with my experience) – both of those things, if true, should absolutely be fixed.

  12. Cabs aren't going anywhere. (1 Reply)

    They are having to deal with competition for the first time in a long time, but that’s a far cry from going out of business. Do you oppose all surge pricing?

  13. I've used Uber during surge pricing times... (1 Reply)

    the information seemed pretty clear. You get a big warning on your phone that surge pricing is in effect, and you have to accept it. My credit card was charged exactly what the email receipt said I’d be charged.

    Anecdotal, obviously. But in principle, I don’t have a problem with surge pricing as long as it’s announced clearly. Pretty standard supply/demand principle that lots of other industries use, and nobody is forcing you to take an Uber.

  14. LOL (0 Replies)

    These are Google ads. We don’t control, or have any advance knowledge of, their content. As Christopher correctly points out, Charlie Baker ads show up here because people talk about him and about subjects related to him. Don’t get worked up.

  15. Agreed re '16. (0 Replies)

    The stakes could hardly be higher.

  16. Maybe. But my take on the liberals voting against cert (1 Reply)

    is that they are content for the lower court rulings to take effect, banking (I think correctly) that with people in that many states getting married and reordering their affairs, and with states and the federal government putting machinery in place to deal with it, the momentum will be essentially irreversible by the time the Court has another chance to take it up.

    Certainly, a circuit split now seems the most likely route to SCOTUS. That depends on what happens in the 5th or 6th circuit, where cases are now working their way up. But even absent a split, it would be somewhat surprising for an issue of this magnitude to be resolved by the courts of appeals, even if they are unanimous.

  17. Nah. (0 Replies)

    I like keeping tabs on what our electeds are up to. Being on all their email lists is a good way to do that.