Massachusetts A Model for Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Thanks for posting here, Senator. - promoted by david

As a nation, we have a choice: Do we want to keep pumping dangerous carbon pollution into the air, or do we want to pump new life into our economy, creating clean energy jobs and saving families money on their electricity bills?

We know that by cutting carbon pollution, we can grow our economy and save American families money. It’s a formula that works. We did it in Massachusetts through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Since the RGGI program went into effect in 2009, the program has added on order of $3 billion in economic value to participating states and saved consumers more $1.5 billion.  Massachusetts now has nearly 100,000 clean energy jobs in our state.

This formula is at the heart the Clean Power Plan that President Obama finalized this week.

The Clean Power Plan embodies what makes America great: it is ambitious, it is flexible, and it is achievable.

This plan captures the scientific urgency, the economic opportunity and the moral imperative necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

2014 was the hottest year in a global record that stretches back to 1880. The first half of this year is now the hottest January to June in that same record. As temperatures continue to soar upwards on land, our seas are getting hotter, as well. In one spot off Cape Cod, the water was 21 degrees warmer than normal in January of this year.  Climate change is damaging the public’s health, disproportionately impacting communities of color who suffer higher rates of asthma.

Scientists agree humankind is now the leading cause of climate change, which is why we must lead with solutions.

The Clean Power Plan will help usher in the end of the dirty power plant era and unleash a clean energy revolution in every state of the country.

The plan provides states the flexibility to meet new emissions reductions targets with incentives that will ensure the deployment of clean energy technologies in cities around the nation.

In 2005, we installed 79 megawatts of solar in the United States. Last year, we deployed nearly 100 times that amount – 7,000 megawatts. We are projected to double our installed solar capacity over the next two years.

We have more than 65,000 megawatts of wind installed in the United States today. Nearly 90 percent of that was installed in the last ten years. We are projected to add 11,000 megawatts of new wind this year, with a total of 17,000 that could be added by the end of 2016.

Added together, that means that by the end of next year, we could have more than 120,000 megawatts of wind and solar installed in the United States. That’s enough to power more than 25 million homes!

73,000 American workers are now employed in the wind sector. 174,000 Americans are employed in solar. Over the next year, solar employment is forecast to increase 20 percent to 210,000 American workers. The Clean Power Plan will be at the heart of a super-charged renewables renaissance!

And the Clean Power Plan will save consumers money on their utility bills. When it is fully implemented, the average family will save more than $80 a year on their electricity bills.

Some of my colleagues in Congress will say it can’t be done. Some will say it will raise electricity bills. Some will say it will kill jobs. Those claims are just not true.

Because it’s the same people who deny the science of climate change and insist the emissions reductions targets in this plan cannot be reached who are the same people who ally themselves with fossil fuel companies with a vested interest in blocking action.

The Clean Power Plan is a plan to create jobs and grow our economy. It is a signal to the marketplace to invest in clean energy. It. And it a signal to the world that America will lead the global effort for climate action in order to protect our planet.

This plan is a turning point. It will be transformative. I applaud President Obama and EPA Administrator Massachusetts’s own Gina McCarthy for their leadership and for charting this course towards a future that is cleaner, healthier and more prosperous for all Americans.

Things I do not understand: Chuck Schumer/Iran edition

The Washington Post suggests that “Chuck Schumer’s opposition to Iran deal may bring other Democrats with him”. Well, let’s see about that. It may well be that Schumer is placating local constituencies while not trying to pull Democrats with him: “Schumer indicated that he would not actively encourage others to vote against the Iran deal.” That’s what that means: I’ll let it pass, but I can’t do this one.

Certainly our Senators Warren and Markey should consider this very carefully in deciding whom to support for party leader in the Senate. Schumer’s support of Wall Street interests and his freelancing on this critical issue should make them look for better alternatives.

Apart from such rather typical politicking, I truly do not understand the opposition to the Iran deal, except as a continuation of zero-sum partisan politics. The GOP’s opposition is predictable, of a piece with health care hysteria, cap-and-trade hysteria, Benghazi, etc.

Read Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with John Kerry, even in spite of Goldberg’s outrageous characterizations of Kerry’s remarks (“he has encouraged scapegoating of the Jewish state” — ridiculous). And read Max Fisher’s breakdown of the arguments against the deal:

Delaying Iran’s nuclear program for 10 years via diplomacy is bad, whereas delaying it for two years via war is good. What does that tell you?

For Israel, supporters of Israel, you seem to have these choices:

  1. No deal, in which Iran continues on its path to get nukes in short order (three months?) but it remains economically paralyzed and isolated;
  2. This deal, which delays Iran for at least 10 years, apparently; and according to Kerry, much longer than that;
  3. War! which sets Iran back a couple of years, but with immense cost of human lives, money, and another generation of hostility. Doesn’t exactly solve any of your problems, and creates countless new ones.

Opponents of the deal objectively prefer 1. or 3.; that is, their position naturally leads to those consequences:

  • #1: With a deal, Iran may well get more money with which to fund international terror and mischief, Hezbollah and Assad, not to mention the egregious Shiite militias in Iraq, which we’re supposed to be partnering with to fight ISIS. Without a deal, Iran remains economically crippled, but has nukes.  But so does Israel, and so do we, so can it actually use them? So this is actually a plausible calculation. On the other hand, Nuclear Iran has its obvious dangers, particularly if you don’t believe in a “rational actor” Ayatollah.
  • #3 is also plausible because the prospect of war gives those in particular ideological corners the opportunity to be Big Strong Men. War is its own justification, for many; it’s just intrinsically awesome and attractive as a Thing To Do. This has currency especially in American right-wing politics. We can see such talk for what it is, and put into practice, the consequences are rather fresh in the minds of most Americans.If you thought that war would actually do a better job of preventing Iran from getting a bomb, this view would at least have some merit. Is this case plausible? Or does a deal with an inspection regime — and huge economic incentives to comply — do a better job?

There is no question that the Iran deal involves some very tough calculations, particularly as regards Iran’s influence regionally. But remember that as Iran opens up economically and culturally, it also becomes subject to outside influences, including ours, and the need to maintain the web of international trade.

It’s not a slam dunk, but I cannot see how those most vocally opposed to the deal– particularly those interested in Israel’s safety — are better off without a deal.

Joke Revue: Is Trump a GOP Troll?

Bumped, for glory. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Esteemed readers of this blog will recognize the indicators: fake concern, taunting, outrageous unsubstantiated claims, imperviousness to reason, agita, vindictiveness, and personal attention as the primary objective. It bears consideration, and augers hopefully for a Third Party Trump. Let’s not forget that another egomaniacal gazillionaire Ross Perot in effect elected Bill Clinton. Pitch in with your views in the comments.

Johnnie, we hardly knew ye! All hail John Stewart:

”To have not shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak. ” —Jon Stewart, on Dick Cheney shooting his hunting buddy in the face

Daniel Kurtzman:

“The Republican presidential debate is tomorrow night. People have already come up with drinking games for it. The most popular game is the one where you skip the debate and go out drinking.” –Conan O’Brien

“Thursday night is the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate. Just like ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ you’ll see Donald Trump on TV yelling at people you barely recognize.” –Conan O’Brien

“Jeb Bush participated in his first Spanish-language interview with Telemundo this week, where he said he’s more optimistic than the other candidates. And you can tell he’s optimistic, cuz he thinks speaking in Spanish will help him with REPUBLICANS.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump — there are still 15 months to go in this election, he was all over the news again today. He’s on everything all the time. I don’t know how he’s going to keep up this pace. Donald Trump has reached a saturation level that is nothing short of Kardashian-esque.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Donald Trump said yesterday that he would love to have Sarah Palin in his administration because she is somebody who knows what’s happening. Said Sarah Palin, ‘Trump’s running for president? When did that happen?’” –Seth Meyers

“A New York man was arrested Friday for driving an ice cream truck intoxicated wearing only underwear and yelling at children. So on the down side, he was arrested. But, on the up side, he is the Republican front-runner.” –Seth Meyers

“In a speech in Texas, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton ‘easily the worst Secretary of State in the history of our country.’ When asked what he based that on, Trump said, ‘I heard ME say it just now. So it’s gotta be true.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Presidential hopeful Rick Perry yesterday accused Donald Trump of ‘demagoguery,’ and said that he must be ‘excised and discarded.’ So one thing is clear: somebody got Rick Perry a word-of-the-day calendar.” –Seth Meyers

“At a campaign event in South Carolina, Trump gave out Senator Lindsey Graham’s personal cellphone number. He’s bringing the same level of class to this presidential election that one does to a stall in a public restroom.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“The White House is making a special Twitter account to answer questions about the new nuclear agreement. Finally using Twitter for what it was designed for — explaining complex, international nuclear agreements involving several nations.” –Seth Meyers

Markey and Warren Should Not Vote for Schumer

Warren would be much better for the job. - promoted by Bob_Neer

How many of you agree with me that Senators Markey and Warren should not now support Chuck Schumer for Majority Leader now that he is sabotaging President Obama’s crown jewel in his civilized foreign policy?

The fascinating puzzle of Donald Trump

I touched on this a bit in my last post, but I want to spend some more time on it.  What the hell is going on with Donald Trump?  The fact is, nobody really knows (and I’d include Trump himself in that).  Look at the reaction from sophisticated observers to what happened last night.  Some think Trump was terrific and did exactly what he needed to do.  Others thought he did poorly and is now going to tank.  They generally agree on how everyone else did, but because they don’t fully understand why Trump is so popular right now, they can’t get a bead on how his performance last night will play.  Chris Cillizza at the WaPo says “I think he may be beyond normal political predictions,” and I think that’s right.  I haven’t found any scientific polls on who won last night; there’s a thoroughly unscientific one at Drudge showing that Trump won by a lot, which while probably not worth much, does have a very large number of respondents (over 500,000).

But I think there’s one thing that is beyond debate, and that’s who got the most coverage coming out of last night: Donald Trump, without question.  To the right, today’s Globe’s front page.  All Trump.

And to the left, today’s NY Times (click for larger).  At least you can see the other candidates, but the photo is from the moment at the beginning when Trump was the only one to raise his hand to a question asking if anyone would refuse to rule out a third-party candidacy.  That moment was all about Trump.

So what is going on here?  My sense is that Trump is basically saying this (to paraphrase Bob Dole): “this system sucks in every way – you know it, I know it, and the American people know it.  The only people who don’t know it is the media and the politicians, because it benefits them.  Well, you know what?  They suck too.  I’m not going to play by their rules.  I’m going to say what I want to say, when I want to say it, and the consequences be damned.”

That message is very appealing to some people, particularly those who feel disenfranchised by the existing rules and ignored by more traditional politicians.  Furthermore, Trump has been quite adept at boasting about his skill in working within the system, even while he criticizes it.  Consider his campaign finance-related answer last night, in which he declared that “our system is broken,” and then, as evidence, bragged that he had given a lot of money to politicians who then did whatever he wanted.  That allowed him to say (a) the system sucks because people shouldn’t be able to buy politicians; however, since it’s the system we have, (b) I’m a smart, skillful guy who knows how to work the system; and (c) Hillary Clinton is a tool because she did what I wanted after I gave her money.  Similarly, his answer on Atlantic City was very clever.  He was able to talk about how laws are set up to benefit wealthy people like him, which taps into anger against the establishment, while also boasting about how good he was at working within those laws, which makes him look like a smart businessman who can get rich even in tough economic times.

Even his answer to Megyn Kelly on sexism, while appalling, was consistent with his damn-the-torpedoes approach.  TPM sums it up well:

Foxbots to Trump: Are you not a fraud, a cretin and a scoundrel.

Trump: I’m very rich. F@ck yourself. I have no time for your nonsense.

Between the facts that Trump is playing by rules that don’t seem to apply to anyone else, and that he has enough money that he doesn’t have to fundraise and can stay in the race for quite some time by self-funding, I think he’ll stick around for a while, and I also think that he’ll continue to confound political observers who are having trouble figuring out what is behind his rise.  I don’t think he’ll be the Republican nominee.  But I do think that, at least for the next couple of months (and maybe longer), he’ll stay in the headlines, and he’ll continue to make the other candidates feel starved for oxygen.

#GOPdebate: Fox News won

The biggest, most surprising news out of last night’s debate is that the moderators did really well. Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace were prepared, tough, adept at managing a big crowd on stage, and only occasionally succumbed to Fox News-style right wing pandering. Kudos to them (aside from the unfortunate “God” question at the end) for a job surprisingly well done. They made Fox News look like a respectable news operation for a couple of hours, and that is not easy to do.

Beyond the moderators, I’d give the night to Marco Rubio and John Kasich, with one big caveat. Both of them handled pretty much every question smoothly, and some more than that. They both made a solid “conservative” case while also looking like plausible general election candidates.

The caveat, of course, is Donald Trump. If any other candidate had turned in the performance he gave, we’d call it a disaster (Politico makes a similar point). But because it’s Trump, we honestly don’t know. Everyone was ready to call him done after his John McCain comments, but he only got stronger. One thing is for sure: he was the Donald everyone expected. So I really don’t think we can say how Trump did last night until we see some post-debate polling, campaign events, etc. The pundits (like our friend Joan Vennochi) who are gleefully declaring his moment over are, with all respect, not entirely clear on why he is polling so well in the first place.

Also worth noting is that, of the second-tier candidates who participated in the 5 pm “happy hour” debate, Carly Fiorina clearly distinguished herself as someone worth watching. It’ll be interesting to see whether her strong performance translates into anything more substantial.

Governor's Councilor Jubinville wants to decriminalize heroin — and that's a great idea

This is obviously a good idea: legalizing and taxing drugs and having widely available treatment options for abusers is a far more rational and effective approach than prohibition, as demonstrated by alcohol. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Yesterday, Governor’s Councilor Robert Jubinville sent a letter to state leadership recommending we decriminalize heroin and establish state-run methadone clinics to combat the opiate overdose crisis. From the Taunton Daily Gazette:

“Hopefully this can start the conversation and start helping some of these kids instead of running them through the courts and ruining their lives,” Jubinville said.

In his letter, Jubinville says drug addiction is a disease that should be treated not punished. He applauded Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello who earlier this year announced that his department would stop arresting addicts who show up to the police station to turn in their drugs and paraphernalia and ask for help.

Methadone clinics should be available in every courthouse, according to Jubinville, who described the drug as an “underrated tool” that can be administered by professionals to heroin addicts in a controlled setting, allowing people to function more normally in society.

This is a fantastic idea, long supported by drug policy experts across the globe. Decriminalizing drug possession has worked incredibly well in Portugal, which implemented the policy in 2001 and has seen reductions in overdoses, HIV, addiction, and many other harms related to drug abuse. A few countries, most notably Switzerland, also have programs where they provide heroin to addicts to help wean them off of addiction, connect them to other social services, and reduce harms such as theft by addicts to fund what is an incredibly expensive habit on the black market.

Massachusetts voters haven’t been asked directly about this before, but other polls make it seem like they’d support it too. Last year, MassINC published a poll on criminal justice, which included these findings:

By more than a 2-to-1 margin, people are more likely to perceive drug use as a health problem (64 percent) than a crime (24 percent).

More than four in five (83 percent) think sending drug users to treatment instead of prison would be effective in reducing crime. Drug trafficking is still viewed as a more serious offense, and far fewer would support leniency for those involved.

Despite these promising data points, there’s still a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering out there, so a bill or initiative to address this may be a heavy lift. But I think that given unprecedented public support for criminal justice reform, combined with our state’s overdose epidemic, now is the time to follow Governor’s Councilor Jubinville and push to decriminalize heroin.

One More Moment of Zen: A Jon Stewart Appreciation

Surely the most influential show ever to run on Comedy Central... - promoted by david

As a millennial and a progressive who came of age during the dreadful Bush years, Jon Stewart was my lodestar, particularly during the period between 9/11 and the 2004 election. Those were the dark days when Bush was flying high, waging war with impunity, when even ‘objective’ journalists like Ted Koppel were misquoting Shakespeare and gleefully seeing off the hounds of war let loose. While other critics like Phil Donahughe were tkaen off the air, Jon stood alone as a critic on mainstream television-identifying the operation early as the ‘Mess’ o Potamia it was, and calling bullshit on the media’s rush to war.

A lot of progressive commentary has lit up regarding Jon as a champion of liberal values, in many ways, particularly on same sex-marriage, veterans benefits, holding Wall Street and our foreign policy accountable-he certainly was. In many other ways, I suspect he leans closer to the center-or at least pines for a politics of bipartisanship where reasonable people can have informative disagreements using the same set of facts and putting the people first. As cynical as he was, I suspect the cynicism was born from a deep seated idealism at the possibilities of American democracy if only the bullshit, lobbying, and spin cycle of the 24 hour newsmedia would be firmly kept away from the process.

From getting 9/11 First Responders medical treatment they would’ve likely lost, holding Glenn Beck and others to the fire, forcing Crossfire off the air, and introducing the world to Elizabeth Warren, Stewart has done an immeasurable service for comedy, satire, and yes, progressive engagement. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

Northern NFL Teams Will Need Many Backup Quarterbacks

What if the smoking gun isn't? - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

The other day I was reading a news story about deflategate that had the football pressure data in it from the AFC Championship game. Being a scientist, I gave into the temptation to plot it up, which then led to the desire for a little more data. So off my sons and I went to the sporting good store over the weekend where we purchased a football and a gauge. We took the football out of the box, and … put it in the fridge. Here’s what we found.

In all five experiments putting the football from room temperature (75-78 degrees F) to the refrigerator (34-37 degress F) resulted in a pressure drop of more than 2 pounds per square inch (PSI; Figure 1 for graph of data, simple version). Upon being removed from the fridge, the PSI increased rapidly within the first 10-15 minutes. In two cases the pressure did not return to the original pressure (by 1.1 and 0.5 PSI), while in three cases it roughly did. We did not try to replicate the conditions of the AFC game because, frankly, it was the weekend and the fridge is what I had access to at home.

Three major conclusions are clear from these experiments. First, If these experiments are generalizable to winter football with comparable temperatures, in other words all games in near freezing conditions with outdoor stadiums, all footballs will be in violation of the current NFL rules and their current enforcement approach at some point during the game. Specifically, footballs filled and tested indoors that are brought outdoors will drop in excess of 2 PSI, which is two-fold larger than the 1 PSI allowed range (12.5-13.5 PSI). If they are tested while still cold, or immediately after being brought in, they will be in violation. This is regardless of if the footballs are filled to 13.5 or 12.5, each pressure subtracting 2 PSI will be in violation. These experiments did use a Wilson Official Composite football instead of the Wilson Professional Leather one, so the results may vary (as they would also with other varying environmental parameters) but similar effects would be expected.

If ball pressure is inspected and enforced as it was during the AFC Championship games, as would be expected given the high profile nature of the disciplinary actions and the need to protect the “integrity” of the game, NFL teams are going to need a lot of backup quarterbacks to replace the quarterbacks lost each game. Visiting teams from warmer climates would be wise to play their backups quarterbacks as a sacrifice to maintain them for future games, rather than lose them for four games. Teams from colder climates will need to dedicate more of their roster space for backup quarterbacks or risk running out of them by the end of the season.

Second, the Wells report argued that the large variability in football pressure in Patriots balls was indicative of tampering while the close spread of pressure values in the Colts balls could be used as a control group (see Figure 2, simple version) Our data demonstrates this same observations can also be explained by when the timing of sampling occurs. For example, when footballs are brought from a cold outdoor temperature to a warm indoor one, as occurred in the AFC championship game, there is a period of rapid re-equilibration where measured pressure correspondingly increases rapidly, followed by a plateauing where pressure converge. The time scales and our simple experimental data are consistent with this, where pressures measured in the first 15 minutes had a PSI range of 1.5, while those measured between 16-30 minutes had a PSI range of 0.5. During halftime the Patriots balls were measured first, then 5 Colts balls were measured and halftime came to an end. Interestingly, none of the Colts balls reached their initial estimated (and not recorded value) of about 13 PSI, suggesting a loss or incomplete re-equilibration, consistent with loss of pressure observed in two of our five experiments.

Third, there’s a systematic error between the two referees’ pressure gauges of 0.39 +/- 0.06. This has been much discussed in the media and Wells report. What has not been discussed is the notion of accuracy (and in contrast to precision). In analytical chemistry accuracy is a term used to describe the confidence associated with a measurement based on how close that measurement is to the true value. To acquire accuracy, chemists typically measure certified or consensus standards that are widely shared among laboratories. The process is simple, you measure the shared standard, if your number is far from the certified number, you’ve got a problem with your accuracy. The referees chose to use two different gauges during the halftime of the AFC game given the scrutiny they expected. This was a good idea as it gives us some real life information about the performance of gauges in use by referees. Turns out that a 0.39 PSI variability is ~40% of the allowed 1 PSI range – a football that is within the allowed range by 0.3 PSI could be found in violation by an inaccurate gauge. The NFL decided to use the data from only one gauges, assuming the other was inaccurate. But this is not valid, we don’t know which gauge (if any) was more accurate because there were no standards used to verify their calibration at the time of their use. If footballs need to be above 12.5 by both gauges, which seems reasonable since we do not know one to be more correct than the other, all of the Colts footballs except one are also in violation (Figure 2, the grey area indicates allowed pressures). The gauges are calibrated in the factory, and the referees are optimistically assuming those calibrations will be maintained and not drift with wear and tear. In light of this large uncertainty in referee gauge accuracy and to avoid any possibility of being in violation, teams should fill their balls to exactly within the middle of the 1 PSI range (13.0  PSI), since 13.2 or 12.7 could be found in violation by an inaccurate gauge.

I know an immediate comment will be why didn’t we try to recreate the conditions of the AFC championship game with the smaller temperature change (reported to be ~50 degrees F outside). The short answer, as mentioned above, is that this isn’t my day job, just some simple experiments done at home on the weekend, not in my chemistry lab at work. Others have done experiments under conditions mimicking the game in question, and found similar results (~0.9 PSI decreases). But that said the scientist in me couldn’t take reading any more vague news articles about this, and I was wondering what was really happening in those footballs. Since we did not recreate the specific game conditions, I have made the conclusions generalizable to the challenges facing teams trying to comply with the pressure rules next season. But obviously I’m being somewhat flip: without taking into account changes in temperature on ball pressure (e.g. when and at what temperature the game balls will be re-examined) and having at least some policy for verifying accuracy of pressure gauges, the existing rules are basically impossible to lawfully adhere to.

There have been numerous physicists getting quoted on whether the Ideal Gas Law could explain the pressure changes. It seems fair to conclude that having lawyers asking physicists to make calculations about vessels made of pig, which are repeatedly crushed by very large human masses, used in highly variable physical environments, and measured with uncalibrated gauges is quite far from “ideal”. Here, a few actual measurements with inexpensive supplies goes a long way to understanding football pressure in real world conditions.


Massachusetts left in great shape at change of administration

"The Deficit That Wasn't" is a fascinating tale of political intrigue. - promoted by david

Massachusetts was left in great shape after Deval Patrick left office, with ten straight months of job growth, high reserves and historic credit ratings due to the Patrick-Murray Administration’s investments in education, innovation and infrastructure.

And now that the end of the fiscal year numbers are in from the state Department of Revenue, we know that the Baker administration never had to reckon with a $1 billion deficit, as was predicted by the Mass Taxpayers Foundation; but rather they benefitted from hundreds of millions in surplus revenues when all was said and done.

Bruce Mohl debunks the big budget deficit myth in an excellent piece in Commonwealth Magazine.

Even the Mass Taxpayers have backed away from their deficit projections. “In 20-20 hindsight, 2015 ended up doing better than we thought,” their spokesman tells Commonwealth Mag. “They were lucky and ended up with a surplus.”

… $391 million in surplus revenues at the close of the Fiscal Year, to be exact.

Of course, Governor Patrick addressed a budget gap before leaving office through some tough and fiscally responsible 9C cuts.

And the sound condition of Massachusetts at the change of administration reflects the solid investments and strong stewardship of the Patrick-Murray Administration over the past eight years.

Uber and Lyft kick the bottom 28 percent to the curb

Ride sharing services are an example of the continued separation of our society into economic haves and have-nots. If you have a cell phone and a credit card, the services allow users to evade licensing rules and hitch a ride with a serial rapist. But livery cabs and other minimally regulated ride services have similar risks, and even better regulated taxis have problems.

The key difference with Uber and Lyft, holding constant for the risks of getting into cars with unlicensed chauffeurs, is that practically speaking you have to have a cell phone and a credit card to use them. Goodbye economic bottom 28 percent of our country: a 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that in 2012, 72 percent of US consumers had a credit card, according to And 28 percent of consumers did not.

Uber has its point of view. Commonwealth writer Jack Sullivan last week quoted a spokesperson as follows:

Bennett points to a 2013 study on Boston’s taxi industry commissioned by the city that shows low response rates by cabbies to requests in neighborhoods such as Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, with customers waiting a half-hour or longer for a taxi. Uber, said Bennett, has a 96 percent response rate for ride requests within 20 minutes in those same neighborhoods, with the median response time being under four minutes. That availability, he said, is what’s drawing customers.

But we can discount the value of whatever the spokesperson says to zero since he’s paid to make that argument. I haven’t seen any independent evidence that Uber serves low-income neighborhoods any better than taxis, have you? In any event, they don’t serve the bottom 28 percent of consumers at all.

In sum, in addition to the interesting issues of regulation and safety that they raise, Uber and Lyft are another example of the power of technology and the web to push people apart and deepen economic stratification, as well as offer certain benefits, and new risks, to the relatively privileged.

The NH GOP Forum

Trump, Trump, Trump! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Last night 14 of the 16 GOP candidates took turns making their vision of governance quite clear.  They put their best foot forward, but can they appeal to the voter that what they are saying is reliable?

So for those of you who watched, I’m starting an open thread to display themes or actual quotes, and trying to see if what they said holds water.

I will start off with the easiest.  Both Carly Fiorino and Lindsey Graham called Hillary Clinton a lier and a common criminal. Their fury had no bounds with Fiorino, no bastion of veracity, calling Sec Clinton a liar, and Graham had his own version of “Clinton Speak” that nothing the Clintons say is truthful.  The former touted her CEO experience that ultimately caused her to be fired, treating employees as enemies, and Lindsey Graham has told a few whoppers about how the “surge” in Iraq had won the peace.

So BMGers I’m going to lay back, and see what take aways you saw from the event, and what counters there are to put the kibosh on these less than truthful lot.

I am asking to sharpen our focus when the more broadly broadcasted debate takes place on Thursday.  They can not be allowed to let trickle down economics, using American soldiers as cannon fodder, and making those people’s lives who are down on their luck even harder without providing any policies in its place.