Megan-McArdle

I’m always fascinated by the number of people who proudly build columns, tweets, blog posts or Facebook posts around the same core statement: “I don’t understand how anyone could (oppose legal abortion/support a carbon tax/sympathize with the Palestinians over the Israelis/want to privatize Social Security/insert your pet issue here).“ It’s such an interesting statement, because it has three layers of meaning.
The first layer is the literal meaning of the words: I lack the knowledge and understanding to figure this out. But the second, intended meaning is the opposite: I am such a superior moral being that I cannot even imagine the cognitive errors or moral turpitude that could lead someone to such obviously wrong conclusions. And yet, the third, true meaning is actually more like the first: I lack the empathy, moral imagination or analytical skills to attempt even a basic understanding of the people who disagree with me.
In short, “I’m stupid.” Something that few people would ever post so starkly on their Facebook feeds.
—  Megan McArdle, “Only Stupid People Call People Stupid

Did you go to college? Do you think it was a lousy investment? Megan McArdle writes this week’s cover story on the mythomania around getting a degree - sending parents to the poorhouse and saddling kids with buckets of debt and no guarantee of a job to pay it back. There is also a chilling piece about Nazi ties to the drug thalidomide and we take a deep look inside Naomi Wolf’s Vagina. You can get it on iPad today http://bit.ly/b4mv6q and at the newsstand Monday! 

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.
—  Megan McArdle’s solution to preventing mass shootings, as pointed out by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait. “But I doubt we’re going to tell people to gang rush mass shooters, because that would involve admitting that there is no mental health service or ‘reasonable gun control’ which is going to prevent all of these attacks. Which is to say, admitting that we have no box big enough to completely contain evil,” she continues. Oh, so it’s an explanation to tell us that gun control won’t work… I think?!
genrify.com
Anticipated Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016
The explosion in publishing for science fiction, fantasy and horror makes me believe that 2016 will be an amazing years for these genres. Orbit has stated they are expanding their publishing efforts, Houghton Mifflin has added a new SFF imprint, Marvelous SFF podcast/book club Sword and Laser seem to have started up a publishing endeavor, and of course there is the ongoing boom in self-publishing.

Here are the forthcoming titles for the first half of 2016 that  are catching the fancy of LJ sf/fantasy columnist Megan McArdle. And give her genre blender a whirl. http://blender.genrify.com/

 Very cool!

Originally posted by l0vepassionpain

bloomberg.com
'Citizens of the World'? Nice Thought, But ...
No wonder Britain's "Leave" vote startled elites. They already left their national identities behind.
By Megan McArdle

I didn’t think it would actually happen.

Sitting in an airport with middle-class Britons last week, I heard far more support for leaving the European Union than for staying in. But heading into Thursday’s voting, I couldn’t quite believe it.

I didn’t think it would happen simply because things like this usually don’t. The status quo is a powerful totem. People don’t like jumping off into the unknown. As polls moved toward Remain in the waning days of the campaign, I assumed that we were seeing the usual pattern: People flirt with the new, dangerous outsider, then come home and marry the familiar boy next door.

It turned out my anecdata from the airport did better than the polls. And way, way better than the betting markets, which as late as 7 p.m. in the Eastern U.S. gave “Remain” a 96 percent chance of winning. Betting markets failed worse than polls, worse than a casual survey in an airport. They failed, because as the blogger Epicurean Dealmakerpointed out on Twitter, “Markets distill the biases, opinions, & convictions of elites,” which makes them “Structurally less able to predict populist movements.”

The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. But perhaps, like the fellow I once saw lose a packet by betting on 17 for 20 straight turns of the roulette wheel, they reasoned that the recent loss actually makes a subsequent victory more likely, since the number has to come up sometime.

Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp what I noted in a column last week: that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment – a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.

In many ways, members of the global professional class have started to identify more with each other than they have with the fellow residents of their own countries. Witness the emotional meltdown many American journalists have been having over Brexit.

Well, here’s one journalist who is not having a meltdown. I think Brexit will be somewhat costly – if you want to understand just how complicated the separation will be, take a gander at the primer that the law firm Dechert put up for its clients – but it’s not going to destroy the country or start a war, so if Britain wants out, then … bon voyage. I can certainly understand why my British friends who supported Remain are upset, and why people in other countries who are actually going to experience long-term effects from this decision are unhappy—if I were a Pole, I’d be worried as heck. But I don’t take it personally.

A lot of my professional colleagues seemed to, and the dominant tone framed this as a blow against the enlightened “us” and the beautiful world we are building, struck by a plague of morlocks who had crawled out of their hellish subterranean world to attack our impending utopia. You could also, I’d argue, see this sentiment in the reaction of global markets, which was grossly out of proportion to the actual economic damage that is likely to be done by Brexit. I mean, yes, the British pound took a pounding, and no surprise. But why did this so roil markets for the Mexican peso? Did traders fear that the impact on the global marmite supply was going to unsettle economies everywhere?

Well, no. This was a reflection of sudden uncertainty, not a prediction about the global economic future. But the sheer extent of the carnage made me wonder if one of the uncertainties traders were newly contemplating was when the morlocks are going to be coming for us outward-looking professional types with pitchforks.

The answer to these uncertainties, I submit, is not to simply keep doing what we’re doing. There’s a lot of appeal to the internationalist idea that building superstates will tamp down on war. But there’s a reason that the 19th century architects of superstates (now known simply as “states”) spent so much time and effort nurturing national identity in the breasts of their populace. Surrendering traditional powers and liberties to a distant state is a lot easier if you think of that state as run by “people like me,” not “strangers from another place,” and particularly if that surrender is done in the name of empowering “people who are like me” in our collective dealings with other, farther “strangers who aren’t.”

The EU never did this work. When asked “Where are you from?” almost no one would answer “Europe,” because after 50 years of assiduous labor by the eurocrats, Europe remains a continent, not an identity. As Matthew Yglesias points out, an EU-wide soccer team would be invincible – but who would root for it? These sorts of tribal affiliations cause problems, obviously, which is why elites were so eager to tamp them down. Unfortunately, they are also what glues polities together, and makes people willing to sacrifice for them. Trying to build the state without the nation has led to the mess that is the current EU. And to Thursday’s election results.

Elites missed this because they’re the exception – the one group that has a transnational identity. And in fact the arguments for the EU look a lot like the old arguments for national states: a project that will empower people like us against the scary people who aren’t.

Unhappily for the elites, there is no “Transnationalprofessionalistan” to which they can move. (And who would trim the hedges, make the widgets, and staff the nursing homes if there were?) They have to live in physical places, filled with other people whose loyalties are to a particular place and way of life, not an abstract ideal, or the joys of rootless cosmopolitanism.

Even simple self-interest suggests that it may be time for the elites in Britain and beyond to sue for peace, rather than letting their newborn transnational identity drive them into a war they can’t win – as happened with so many new states in the 19th and 20th centuries. Try to reforge common identities with the neighbors they have to live with, and look for treaty rules that will let them live in peace. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that transnationalism is any more capable of tempering its own excesses than the nationalism that preceded it.

bloombergview.com
Uber Makes Economists Sad

New York just killed every economist’s favorite thing about Uber: surge pricing. Sure, many economists also love convenient car service at the touch of a button. But black-car services have been around for a long time. Explicit surge pricing – which both creates new supply and rations demand – has not, but it’s long been a core feature of Uber Technologies Inc.’s business model. While it can be annoying at times (during a recent rainstorm, I noticed a sudden epidemic of drivers canceling rides, which I suspect was due to the rapidly rising surge price), it also allows you to be sure that you will be able to get a taxi on New Year’s Eve or during a rainstorm as long as you’re willing to pay extra.

Sadly, no one else loves surge pricing as much as economists do. Instead of getting all excited about the subtle, elegant machinery ofprice discovery, people get all outraged about “price gouging.” No matter how earnestly economists and their fellow travelers explain that this is irrational madness – that price gouging actually makes everyone better off by ensuring greater supply and allocating the supply to (approximately) those with the greatest demand – the rest of the country continues to view marking up generators after a hurricane, or similar maneuvers, as a pretty serious moral crime.

Some of the outraged people happen to be legislators, who then go and make laws against price gouging in emergencies, which apparently include needing to get a taxi in a bad snowstorm. New York has such a law, and its attorney general was preparing to go after Uber for violating it. In response, the company has announced that it will cap its surge-pricing rates, not just in New York but throughout the country.

This is going to make many people worse off: the drivers who would have liked to make extra on rides, and the riders who don’t get rides because some drivers couldn’t be lured out of their warm beds on a cold and needy night. Of course, the people who manage to get rides will be better off, but there will be fewer of them, and it’ll be harder to predict whether they’ll succeed in getting a cab. It’s the difference between a raffle ticket and a charity auction.

Yet when it comes to these sorts of transactions, we seem to instinctively prefer the raffle ticket. Michael Munger argues that this is because we don’t see them as “euvoluntary,” or truly voluntary. The aspect of great need makes them feel coercive, even if the person fulfilling the need is not the person who created it. So we’d rather that no one gets ice after a hurricane than see entrepreneurial people get rich selling it to willing buyers. So while this latest development is not economically optimal, it was probably politically predictable.

To contact the writer of this article: Megan McArdle at mmcardle3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net.

theatlantic.com
Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators
The psychological origins of waiting (... and waiting, and waiting) to work
By Megan McArdle

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.

What's Wrong With This Argument?

Another factor I’ve noticed with my bankruptcy clients is that a very rich person whose income takes a sudden precipitous drop to a still-pretty-good income can actually wind up in more financial trouble, faster, than a very poor person whose income drops to zero.  If you were making $300k a year and spending $200k of it on fixed expenses, and your household income drops to $125k a year, unless you have substantial liquid savings or are able to sell your house and your car and your boat yank your kids out of private school REALLY fast, you’re going to wind up in bankruptcy in a fairly short space of time.  A person who was making $18k a year and suddenly finds themselves making nothing, as a practical matter, can often break their lease and move in with mom and get on food stamps until a new job materializes and wind up with only a couple thousand dollars in debt.   Not that it’s not still ultimately much better to be the rich person, but the rich person does get hit with a more panic-inducing financial calamity in the short term.

A comment from Meg McArdle’s “Are the Rich Completely Undeserving of Sympathy?”

genrify.com
Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalypic Fiction

I recently decided to chart another genre, this time post-apocalyptic fiction. I love the genre, which has more variety that most people suspect. Why do we love books about the end of the world? .

LJ’s own sf/fantasy columnist, Megan McArdle offers insights into this popular genre. Follow her blog at http://www.genrify.com/.

politico.com
Big news in the pundit world: The Atlantic's Megan McArdle, a contrarian voice that has become one of the magazine's most well-known, is headed to Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

McArdle, who is currently on book leave, has blogged about business and economics for the Atlantic since 2007. In August, she will start as special correspondent on economics, business, and public policy at Newsweek/Daily Beast, based out of their Washington, D.C., bureau.

McArdle joins Newsweek/Daily Beast as it slowly but surely continues to expand its roster of prominent bloggers — including, most recently, conservative columnist David Frum, who joined in January — and as the website has seen its highest traffic numbers since launching in 2008 (it received 12.7 million unique visitors in May, according to internal data.)

This is the second big-time blogger the company has poached from The Atlantic — the first was Andrew Sullivan, who has written a number of cover stories for the magazine, most infamously this one. In The Atlantic’s defense, they're also seeing some record traffic numbers and scoring some big hires.

"A Conservative Vision for Social Justice" Was Neither (But It Could Be)

On Monday at the National Geographic Museum, the American Enterprise Institute inaugurated its Vision Talks series with the topic of “A Conservative Vision for Social Justice.” It was neither — but it was not unpromising.

The evening began with the president of AEI, Arthur Brooks, who preached about the need for “moral transformation” and “hope” among the poor instead of illustrating concrete policy. He mostly encouraged conservatives to focus on increasing the poor’s access to the free enterprise system. While he did focus on one policy issue — ”Education is the civil rights struggle of our time” — he did not delve into this structural, fixable inequality with any specificity. Rather, his greatest contribution to the discussion was an attitude, sadly somehow rare among conservatives, that sees the poor as actual human beings. “It’s time to stop fighting against ideas, and start fighting for people.”

Journalist Megan McArdle dropped the moralizing in favor of thorough substance. Specifically, she outlined the poor’s reliance on social capital (giving up a job to help a friend is investing in eventual reciprocality), and how badly conservatives have misconstrued that system: “This is not an ethic of irresponsibility but of charity, duty, and loyalty.” Displacement and gentrification are so disruptive, she went on, because they break up these valuable social networks. Meanwhile, the poor are unable to rely on financial capital the way the middle class can (the inability to save money means poverty is expensive, buying ten pairs of cheap shoes instead of one pair that will last). Two ways to change that are long-term home ownership and microfinance. Home ownership is a financial asset that provides financial capital, while microfinance can be used either for entrepreneurship or for investment in social or “human capital” (i.e. paying a child’s school fees or medical bills).

AEI Fellow Robert Doar, the former commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration, drew on his experience in administering poverty programs to outline conservative approaches. His main insight was that work must be required in exchange for assistance, but that assistance must also reward work with health benefits, childcare, and the like in order to make wages go further. Doar also emphasized that the two-parent family must be a part of this conversation in order to decrease the economic burden on single mothers. Lastly, conservatives must work toward a job-creating economy so that diverse jobs are available to the poor.

Brooks said in the Q&A that the difference between conservative and progressive social justice is that the former “is about tearing down barriers, not increasing government involvement.” But this misses the other key characteristic of progressive social justice: it encompasses not only class, but also gender, race, and sexual orientation, among other factors. The intersections of these characteristics create a more complicated hierarchical economic reality that conservatives are usually ready to deal with, or willing to acknowledge. Conservatives are wrong to appropriate this movement to name their counterargument if it is not going to address those ideas.

Rather, conservatives need more of McArdle’s approach, which actually listens to the stated concerns and realities of the poor and uses their perspectives to challenge the establishment views. McArdle named her talk “Capital and Poverty,” a straightforward way to deal with the subject at hand, rather than trying to fit a conservative angle into a progressive “social justice” shoebox. The AEI vision talks could go somewhere if they weren’t trying so hard to be conservative-friendly editions of TED talks. And with the involvement of serious, undoctrinaire scholars like McArdle, they might.

Bird's Eye View

     

     Megan McArdle has a post up over at The Atlantic, “Expensive Urban Real Estate Is a Choice.” This is a response to someone looking up the arrest records of Occupy Wall Streeters and subsequently finding that their addresses were (outside the context of New York) relatively pricey. While that original article described protesters as living in “luxury,” it perhaps shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s expensive to live in and around New York City. Yet some of this is besides the point. From McArdle:

My initial reaction was the same as many people I’ve seen in comments sections: the protest is in New York, which is expensive.  This is hardly surprising.
But on second thought, I don’t think that’s quite right.  At least some of the houses identified by the Daily Caller are in places like Texas and Wisconsin.  But more importantly, I’m not sure we should “discount” these home values for location.  The fact is that living in an expensive city is a consumption choice.


Well, I suppose you could think about it that way. She continues:

There’s a sort of irritating supposition in all of this that living in New York (or San Francisco, or Boston) is something that just happens to you, like getting cholera.  And that therefore high incomes, expensive real estate, and so forth, somehow don’t count for the purposes of assessing how well off you are relative to the rest of society.  In fact, perhaps society should get busy making it up to you for all the hardships.
Perhaps we should offer such a perceptual discount to the small number of people who really couldn’t make anything like their current incomes in any other place–investment bankers, some securities lawyers, a handful of entertainers and creative types.  But in most cases, this is ludicrous

     This kind of idea might work for, say, middle-management bankers and payroll associates at small businesses. Indeed, it would be disingenuous to imagine that a branch manager for a national pest control company or shift manager at a chain burger joint couldn’t enjoy a higher standard of living in Topeka or Omaha.

     However, there are inherent flaws to this sort of thinking. It imagines living in NYC as only a choice of consumption. You must disregard that the burger joint employee might have been born and raised there, that subsequently their entire social support network is not in Topeka or Omaha. Social safety nets are a powerful incentive for individuals to live in an area regardless of costs, but for the purpose of this discussion it isn’t even the most relevant incentive. The most relevant incentive for our burger joint employee is the demand for their employment. NYC is a global city. They’re hosts to major economic factors and thus require lots of high skilled, high wage employees. Those high skilled, high wage employees create demand for goods and services provided by low wage workers. They demand things like pet food and enjoy their niche burger joints and bars. They need to have their clothes dry cleaned, taxis to drive them to their destinations and people to clean their offices. Yet because they earn high wages and lots of them want to live in and around NYC the cost of living rises with them. Therefore low wage workers must be compensated at a level that is bearable for them to live close enough to provide those goods and services. If all of them left because they were tired of paying $1800.00 a month for a crappy apartment the demand for that job would still be there. Yes, of course, any one of them may be able to leave for a comparable job with a lower cost of living. That may be the very advice you would give to a friend. That isn’t the advice that a senior editor for The Atlantic who writes about business and economics should be giving to an entire economic sector.

     Viewing individuals and their actions as economic actors is just a way to judge individuals for the choices they make. It is not a good way to explain why a shift manager at a fast food restaurant has the income and expenses that to anyone outside NYC would think is absurd. 

Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: We were too good in English class. This sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writerly habit of putting off writing as long as possible.) At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion. Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project. It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talent kept them at the head of the class.

This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on natural talent. Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English class. Your stuff may not—indeed, probably won’t—be the best anymore.

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.

[Exclusive] Uber phục vụ người nghèo như thế nào

Photo: Beren South

Uber có lợi cho ai?

Mọi người nói về dịch vụ chia sẻ xe cộ như là một mối lợi ích dành riêng cho người giàu có, những người âm mưu với những kẻ khổng lồ của thung lũng Sillicon để nẫng tay trên những tài xế taxi chăm chỉ. Và điều chắc chắn là, ưu điểm của Uber sẽ là có hại cho tài xế taxi-hoặc ít nhất, có hại cho những người đứng đầu các tập đoàn taxi. Nhưng giả thiết rằng những kẻ hưởng lợi là người giàu có phần hơi lạ lùng.

Như đã để cập trong bài viết đầu tiên của tôi về công ty, sự hấp dẫn chính của Uber đối với tôi chưa bao giờ là để tránh khỏi việc phải đi taxi, hoặc thậm chí là để tiết kiệm chi phí. Nếu tôi ở trong 1 khu vực mà có thể bắt taxi một cách dễ dàng, tôi sẽ vẫy tay bắt taxi, như kiểu cổ điển. Không, lợi ích lớn nhất mà tôi tìm thấy được ở Uber là nó cho phép bạn có thể bắt xe ở những nơi taxi hiếm khi lui tới.

Năm năm trước, khi chúng tôi vừa chuyển đến, khu của tôi ở Washington là một trong những khu vực kiểu vậy. Tôi gần như chưa bao giờ có thể tìm thấy được một chiếc taxi chưa có khách ở gần nơi tôi ở. Với cánh tài xế taxi thì thời gian là tiền bạc, khi họ chạy trên đường để tìm hành khách-họ đốt xăng để tìm một cuốc. Vì vậy không có gì bất ngờ khi cánh tài xế taxi chọn trung tâm thành phố, nơi có rất nhiều người đón taxi, thay đi một đoạn đường dài một vùng rộng hơn, nơi mà có thể chỉ có có vài người cần đến taxi. Bắt taxi trên phố đơn giản là sẽ không có tác dụng nếu như không có nhiều người cần đi taxi. Theo lý thuyết là bạn hoàn toàn có thể gọi điện taxi đến tận nhà, nhưng đây là một loại phương tiện ít uy tín nhất trong tất cả các loại phương tiện. Rất nhiều lần tôi đã phải đưa mẹ già của tôi đến sân bay với dịch vụ khẩn cấp, vì chiếc taxi tôi gọi chẳng bao giờ đến.

Tôi luôn luôn nghĩ rằng về mặt cho phép bạn làm những điều bạn chưa thể làm lúc trước, Uber cung cấp những lợi ích lớn nhất cho những người sống trong những khu dành cho người thu nhập thấp, chứ không phải là những người giàu có. Đó là những nơi mà gọi điện đến công ty taxi để yêu cầu xe thường không đáng tin tưởng, hiếm khi có thể vẫy đón taxi trên phố, còn dân cư không có nhiều người sở hữu xe hơi. Một nghiên cứu mới cho thấy, ở những khu vực có thu nhập thấp, tiềm năng của Uber là rất lớn. (Uber trả tiền cho việc nghiên cứu, được thực hiên một cách độc lập, bởi những nhà khoa học có tên tuổi.)

Các nhà nghiên cứu đã thuê người từ một công ty nhân sự tạm thời, họ đứng trên phố thành một cặp, một người gọi taxi, người còn lại gọi cho UberX. Họ yêu cầu tài xế chở đến một địa điểm đã thỏa thuận trước và bấm giờ bằng điện thoại tính từ lúc nhấc máy gọi đến lúc bước ra khỏi cửa xe. Kết quả ấn tượng là Uber đến nhanh hơn và chi phí rẻ hơn rất nhiều so với taxi.

Vâng, dĩ nhiên là bạn có thể nói- Uber rẻ hơn bởi vì nó tránh được các quy định, và thứ rẻ hơn thì sẽ tốt hơn đối với người nghèo, nhưng đó không phải là lí do tốt để biện hộ cho việc rút ruột các quy định. Chúng ta sẽ không để các công ty xả thẳng chất độc xuống sông, cho dù điều đó có thể giúp hạ giá thành hàng hóa mà người nghèo cần mua. (Đây là về phản ứng của một người bình luận trên blog của Mark Kleinman, người có tham gia vào nghiên cứu này.)

Tôi thực sự nghĩ đây là sự hiểu sai vấn đề trong nhiều cách. Đầu tiên, Uber tránh được ba loại quy định cơ bản:

  1. Các quy định vượt quá sự thỏa thuận giữ tài xế và hành khách. Cước phí là một ví dụ.
  2. Các quy định vượt quá sự thỏa thuận giữ tài xế và hành khách. Cước phí là một ví dụ.
  3. Các quy định giới hạn số lượng taxi một cách giả tạo, qua đó giúp làm giàu thêm những chủ sở hữu may mắn có được giấy phép hoạt động taxi. Taxi có huy hiệu là một ví dụ.

Những quy định được đặt ra để làm hài lòng cách quan chức mà không có lý do rõ ràng. Việc nhấn mạnh rằng taxi phải có màu sắc giống nhau là một ví dụ.

Rất nhiều vấn đề rơi vào Loại 1. Ví dụ, ẩn danh là một trong những rắc rối lớn mà hành khách lẫn tài xế cùng gặp phải. Vào một chiếc xe hơi với một người bạn không quen biết làm bạn trở thành một mục tiêu khá hấp dẫn của bọn tội phạm. Vì vậy việc sử dụng quét vân tay với tài xế để kiểm tra lý lịch để chắc chắn rằng họ không phải là một tên hãm hiếp hàng loạt cũng không phải là không có lý. Nhưng tài xế của Uber thì không ẩn danh. Nếu bạn bị tấn công bởi một tài xế, công ty có một bộ hồ sơ để biết rõ đó là ai. Điều đó cũng áp dụng cho bên hành khách, đó là một trong các lý do hấp dẫn đối với cánh tài xế.

(Vài tài xế Uber bị cáo buộc tấn công hành khách? Đúng. Vậy bạn có thể đi taxi. Không có hệ thống nào là hoản hảo cả; câu hỏi là liệu Uber có ít an toàn hơn taxi hay không, và tôi chưa thấy ai có thể cung cấp được bằng chứng cho việc này.)

Hoặc nhận ra vấn đề của tài xế khi phải đi tới những khu vực nghèo, xa xôi hẻo lánh. Tài xế taxi không hề ghét chuyện phải đưa bạn về tận nhà, họ không được trả lương một cách cụ thể để có thể quay lại sau cả một chặng đường dài, vì nó có thể giết chết số tiền lời mà họ vừa kiếm được một cách nhanh chóng. Uber làm cho vấn đề này trở nên đơn giản hơn, vì bạn có thể dễ dàng bắt xe trở về khi bạn tới nơi. Trong cả hai trường hợp, Uber không hề lách luật, nó chỉ loại bỏ đi những quy tắc.

Điều hoàn toàn đúng là Uber đang tránh né các quy định về hạn chế nguồn cung cấp. Nhưng đó là một điều khá thừa thãi, nếu Uber không làm tăng lên nguồn cung về số lượng taxi hiện có, sẽ không có Uber. Nhưng việc hạn chế nguồn cung cũng là trở ngại lớn nhất mà cộng đồng những người có thu nhập thấp gặp phải khi bắt xe. Nếu chỉ có rất nhiều taxi, cánh tài xế sẽ bị hút hết về những khu vực có lợi nhuận cao nhất, ví dụ như sân bay, ga xe lửa, khu vực giàu có, khu thương mại và khu vui chơi giải trí, nơi mà họ có thể tìm được nhiều hành khách hơn. Ủng hộ cnhững giới hạn nghiêm ngặt về việc cung cấp taxi đồng nghĩa với việc ủng hộ việc người nghèo được phục vụ một cách tồi tệ.

Tương tự được lặp lại là sự khẳng định rằng Uber mang lại lợi ích cho người nghèo bởi vì nó tránh được tiền cước định sẵn có giá khá cao; tất nhiên một mức giá thấp hơn sẽ là tốt hơn với người nghèo. Lời phàn nàn thứ ba chỉ đơn giản là vô nghĩa; ý tôi là, vâng, Uber tiết kiệm được một khoản tiền qua việc không bắt buộc tài xế phải sơn lên xe của họ một màu sắc vớ vẩn. Tiền bạc được tiết kiệm ở chỗ này đây.

Thêm vào đó, một số lợi ích được cung cấp bởi Uber rõ ràng là không phải phụ thuộc vào việc bám sát theo các quy tắc. Sử dụng app từ smartphone dơn giản là hiệu quả hơn việc gọi cho một người mà sau đó sẽ điều phối một chiếc đến chỗ bạn. Với những hành khách sống trong những khu vực không có phương tiện thay thế, sự hiệu quả là cả một vấn đề.

Trên blog cá nhân, Kleinman chỉ ra rằng nghiên cứu này vẫn còn sơ khai, cần nhiều nghiên cứu được thực hiện để xem liệu những kết quả này có được giữ nguyên hay không. Nhưng cho tới giờ, những mảnh ghép tốt nhất mà chúng tôi có từ cuộc nghiên cứu cho thấy rằng Uber thực sự có thể có lợi cho các hành khách trong cộng đồng thu nhập thấp. Đó là một tin tốt—ít nhất, miễn là chính phủ đừng bắt nó phải dừng hoạt động.


Tác giả: Megan McArdle - Bloomberg View
Dịch: Hà Huy Dương
Review: LX


Về tác giả: Megan McArdle là một cây viết cho Bloomberg View, chuyên viết về kinh tế, business và các chính sách cộng đồng. Cô là tác giả cuốn The Up Side of Down. Trước đây từng viết cho Newsweek, The Atlantic, và The Economist. Tốt nghiệp cử nhân chuyên ngành Anh ngữ tại đại học Pennsylvania và tốt nghiệp thạc sĩ MBA tại Đại học Chicago.

“One of the best-known experts in the psychology of motivation, [Stanford psychologist Carol] Dweck has spent her career studying failure, and how people react to it. As you might expect, failure isn’t all that popular an activity. And yet, as she discovered through her research, not everyone reacts to it by breaking out in hives. While many of the people she studied hated tasks that they didn’t do well, some people thrived under the challenge. They positively relished things they weren’t very good at—for precisely the reason that they should have: when they were failing, they were learning.

Dweck puzzled over what it was that made these people so different from their peers. It hit her one day as she was sitting in her office (then at Columbia), chewing over the results of the latest experiment with one of her graduate students: the people who dislike challenges think that talent is a fixed thing that you’re either born with or not. The people who relish them think that it’s something you can nourish by doing stuff you’re not good at.

‘There was this eureka moment,’ says Dweck. She now identifies the former group as people with a ‘fixed mind-set,’ while the latter group has a ‘growth mind-set.’ Whether you are more fixed or more of a grower helps determine how you react to anything that tests your intellectual abilities. For growth people, challenges are an opportunity to deepen their talents, but for ‘fixed’ people, they are just a dipstick that measures how high your ability level is. Finding out that you’re not as good as you thought is not an opportunity to improve; it’s a signal that you should maybe look into a less demanding career, like mopping floors.”

— Megan McArdle, Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators