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Goodbye to Boston

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[Probably not of interest to most people–academics may chuckle here or there.]

Just a few days after Scott Alexander heads for the West Coast, I’m also heading west.  I was nearly 27 when I arrived in Boston (in 1982), and today I leave for Southern California, where I’ve always wanted to live (since I was 10.)

I’ve always been a “late bloomer”, perhaps because my parents sent me to school at too young an age.  In first grade I was rated “below grade level” in reading and my high school GPA was only 3.2.

In a public high school.

In the early 1970s.

But I was accepted to the University of Chicago, perhaps because my SATs were much better.  The UC expected each of my parents to contribute $1000/year—good luck with that!  Since I could not afford Chicago, I went to the UW-Madison where tuition was $330 a semester.  I did go to Chicago for graduate school through a combination of student loans for tuition, and working 20 hours a week for room and board.

It was the same story in the job market—a real slow start.  Three months unemployed, then one semester at a branch of the UW, then one year at St. Bonaventure, and then I ended up at Bentley College.  In my second year at Bentley I was given an ultimatum—30 days to produce a letter from my adviser that I was making good progress on my dissertation.  That’s when I started on the project.  I basically did most of the dissertation in about 25 days, sent it to Robert Lucas with the request for a letter, and lucked out.  A few years later I was told that I was up for tenure, which was news to me. Seems I had brought in a year when I was hired.  Who knew that we were supposed to read our contracts?  I asked for a one-year delay and was granted my request.  Then I went up for tenure and was turned down.  Seems I didn’t have any publications.  Oops.

By then I was sending a bunch of papers out to journals like the JME and JPE.  My NGDP futures targeting paper was revised and resubmitted to the JME four times before being rejected.  (That’s unusual.)  My JPE paper (with Steve Silver) was rejected the first time, but then I complained and it was accepted.  (That’s also unusual.)  Indeed I had a number of papers flat out rejected the first time around, but later accepted after I complained.  I think that’s because I wasn’t a very good writer, and it was only in my complaint letter that I properly explained what the heck I was trying to do.  Ironically I got three pubs immediately after being rejected for tenure, including the JPE

So I re-applied for tenure in my terminal year at Bentley, while I also went on the job market.  I got an offer from the New York Fed for $57,000, but decided to stay at Bentley for $33,000.  My colleagues thought I was crazy.  I probably was—but the NY Fed might not have let me do TheMoneyIllusion, at least the way I actually did it.  Then after doing almost nothing on my extra long tenure track period, I started averaging three or four publications a year after I got tenure.  That’s sort of the reverse of how it’s supposed to be done.

Initially I was a very poor teacher.  My evaluations were below 3 out of 5, which is bottom 10%.  After about two years I rose to 4 out of 5, which is average at Bentley, and stayed there until I started blogging.  I expected the blogging to hurt my student evaluations, because I was so busy.  Instead they rose to well above average, until finally in my very last semester (fall of 2014) I got a perfect score (by now the scale was out of 6) on at least some of the questions.  It’s so weird, I had to take a picture to convince myself:

William Galston has a nice piece in the WSJ where he describes returning to a much richer Prague after being away for 22 years, and feeling kind of melancholy. It lacked the romance of his first visit:

In 1995 I could still pass for young, and Europe was young again. As we convened in Prague for an international conference on civic education, everything seemed possible. If history had not quite ended, it was moving in the right direction, and more rapidly than sober analysts had thought possible. With Vaclav Havel in the Castle, the idealists had turned out to be the true realists.

Prague was still struggling to remove the accumulated grime of four communist decades, but the surface didn’t matter. Spirits were high. Music was everywhere, in churches as well as bars, announced on huge placards that magically appeared each morning before breakfast. Students thronged the squares. The ancient buildings were more than reminders of the past; they had become part of a new drama written and staged by a generation that had prevailed against all odds. As Wordsworth wrote of a similar moment: “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!”

I landed in Prague this time under different circumstances. The surface was gleaming, but the spirit had darkened.

Boston was a bit run down when I arrived in 1982, and is now being spruced up in all sorts of ways.  Objectively is a far better city, indeed one of the finest in the world.  But when I think of my life in my 20s and 30s, all this improvement seems kind of meaningless.

I also have mixed feelings about my house, which is a Georgian 2-family built in 1930.  People tell me it was a good investment, but I regret ever becoming a landlord.  I like the appearance of old houses, but over time I got sick of the constant problems.  In retrospect, I realize that this is a sort of toxic waste dump, full of asbestos, lead paint, etc.  I don’t care about the lead, but I have a family history of lung disease so I probably shouldn’t have spend so much time doing dusty construction projects without wearing a face mask.  It’s also a good feeling to get rid of an enormous mountain of junk that I had accumulated.  Whatever possessed me to accumulate stuff like a pile of old Fortune magazines from the 1930s?  I don’t seem able to throw anything away.  Millennials are smart in being less materialistic.

Tomorrow morning I start a cross-country drive.  I won’t miss driving in Boston, which is bad in almost every conceivable way (bad traffic, potholes, no street signs, rude drivers, low speed limits, no parking, snow, unfriendly cops, etc.)  But I will miss the movie scene, especially the Harvard Film Archive.  I plan to switch to watching “films” on TV, since everything is becoming digital anyway.  If only the price of 77-inch OLEDs would drop . . .

Back in 2011, my dream was a midcentury modern house high up in the hills of Sherman Oaks, with a view out over a kidney shaped pool to the valley below.  I’d spend my retirement years reading (or re-reading) my favorite 19th century Anglo-American authors or 20th century European/Latin American and Japanese authors. (Not sure why my taste switched continents around 1910.) Then prices soared and I ended up buying in boring Orange County.

Moving has been a hassle, but visions of my new gazebo with a lake view have kept me motivated:

I still have some packing to do tonight, and won’t have much time for blogging over the next 12 days.  But I’ll try to check in occasionally.

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StatsGuru
25 days ago
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You could have moved to Longmeadow. New England feel without the Boston traffic.
kthejoker
27 days ago
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Hooray for Professor Sumner!

Who’s complacent? (arbitrage for Ontario)

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A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards.

Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job.

“I thought they were talking about an escalator,” Astl told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.

Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours.

Astl’s wife, Gail Rutherford, says the stairs have already been a big help to people who routinely take that route through the park. “I’ve seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with,” she said. “It’s a huge improvement over what was there.”

The city says the stairs are unsafe and has cordoned them off, banning their use:

“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”

Here is the article, with photos, via Rob Gray.

The post Who’s complacent? (arbitrage for Ontario) appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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StatsGuru
26 days ago
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We just can't have people saving the tax payers money.

Why do the NYT wedding pages seem so upper crust?

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Here is their own explanation:

One challenge, though, is that our published announcements are culled from the couples who submit their wedding to us through the online form. We would love to see more economic diversity and a broader range of careers represented. The biggest step in that direction would be for more readers to submit announcements, giving us a wider and deeper pool of candidates. Recently, we had a push for a more racially diverse submissions, and it has helped create a more inclusive section.

Every submission is read and seriously considered. Some weeks, we’ll have 125 to 200 submissions; other weeks we’ll have 20. It can be agonizing to pare down to only 35 couples during the heavy wedding season. (If you want to really increase your odds of getting in, try a Christmas week wedding.)

And, yes, choosing our couples is subjective. Factors, in no particular order, include life achievements, job information, how-we-met stories, ages of couple, college backgrounds or not, parents’ information and other interesting anecdotes. We also strive to have as diverse a selection as we can, based on the submissions for any particular week.

While I consider that a perfectly fair response, I wonder how an NYT labor market story would evaluate a comparable response from say a top tech company in Silicon Valley.

The post Why do the NYT wedding pages seem so upper crust? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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StatsGuru
41 days ago
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Love the comment on the explanation.
freeAgent
41 days ago
I think a better question is why the NYT still *has* wedding announcements. It seems like a waste of resources.
StatsGuru
41 days ago
It's a status symbol for the readers.

What monopsony power in the labor market looks like, by Scott Sumner

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In previous comment sections, I've seen a lot of confusion over the concept of "monopsony power", which means the buyer can influence the price of what they buy. It is the buyer side equivalent of sellers having "monopoly power".

Many people seem to assume that only monopolies have monopoly power. Not so, most firms do. If your firm can raise prices by 1 penny without seeing sales drop to zero, then you have monopoly power. And if you can reduce wages by one penny per hour without losing all your employees, then you have monopsony power in the labor market.

That's not to say perfect competition is not a useful model, it's is a good approximation of reality in some contexts. But it's becoming increasing clear that monopsony power is more than a minor characteristic of the labor market, it gets to the heart of the current issue of labor shortages.

Rick Newman of Yahoo.com did what I've been calling on reporters to do, in depth interviewing to see what a "labor shortage" involves. He decided to interview a small manufacturing firm in Indiana, to get a sense of how there could be a shortage of labor. I'd encourage you to read the entire piece, as it beautifully describes what a labor shortage feels like from an employer's perspective, when they have monopsony power:

And you've had a hard time finding workers lately?

The unemployment rate in my area is about 2%. [Indiana's unemployment rate is 3.6%, lower than the national rate, now at 4.3%.] We've struggled to hire office staff, entry-level, skilled and highly skilled employees. Almost every business owner around here is struggling to find help. Help wanted signs are posted throughout the community. We have three key positions open right now, which amounts to almost 10% of our workforce.


So this is not typical of America, it's a really, really tight labor market.

Are you paying more these days?

We have been paying more. Starting wages have gone up 20% to 30% in the last three years. At the entry-level, we've had to raise starting pay from $11 per hour to over $13 per hour. That's for somebody with little to no applicable skills, in need of significant training. For skilled workers, pay has gone from $14 or $15 to $18 to $20, and highly skilled, even higher.


That's also atypical; at the national level wages are rising less rapidly.

Our readers raise a reasonable question: Why don't you pay even more to get the people you need?

We will as long as it makes sense. If there was a direct correlation between the amount you pay somebody and the amount you're able to get as an output, including loyalty and dedication, simply paying more would be a no brainer, but business isn't just binary. Some businesses have price inelasticity, high fixed expenses and tight margins, and raising wages too quickly could greatly affect the company's ability to turn a profit. You can't just say, I'm going to raise labor costs without considering all the other variables that impact the business. . . .

What kind of workers are hard to find?

Right now in our area, all kinds, at all wages. We have struggled to find people from the front to the back of the business. Office workers, service workers, trades people, general labor, engineers, sales people. . . .

Getting people to show up is as important as getting people with skills. If you're absent, chronically missing work or always late, you are not protecting your job or concerned with your future at the company. It's hard to want to help those people. When the unemployment rate is under 2%, the people who are responsible, really good, valuable, are taken, so you have to figure out how to attract good workers from other companies. Many business owners and HR folks I have talked to feel there is a lack of dedication in the available workforce. I do see where some workers could say the same thing about employers. I know using temp agencies for extended lengths of time is rather popular right now.


That's what monopsony seems like from an employer's perspective.

As an aside, manufacturing is no longer concentrated in the old rust belt. Iowa is more of a manufacturing state than Ohio, and Nebraska and South Dakota are more manufacturing intensive than Pennsylvania. Here are the top five states, in terms of share of the workforce in manufacturing:

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.06.09 AM.png
Indiana has 3.6% unemployment, Wisconsin has 3.2%, and Iowa has 3.1%. That's the job market in America's most manufacturing-oriented regions.

Now I'd like to see a reporter interview unemployed workers in these three states, to get a sense of why they cannot find jobs. Maybe sit them in a room with a few employers, and try to get to the bottom of this issue.

Update: Rick Newman has another piece that explains why many workers are reluctant to move for a new job---distrust of companies who may later outsource their job overseas.

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StatsGuru
63 days ago
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Great read.

Silicon Valley: A Reality Check

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The nation has spoken: weird pointless $400 wi-fi enabled juicer company Juicero is the perfect symbol of Silicon Valley.

So says the Washington Post: Juicero Shows What’s Wrong With Silicon Valley Thinking. So says TechCrunch, which calls Juicero “the absurd avatar of Silicon Valley hubris”. So says Newsweek, which renames the area Silly-Con Valley in its honor. And of course there’s Deadspin, which calls it “the best story ever written about Silicon Valley… a stupid libertarian dystopia where investor-class vampires are the consumers and a regular person’s money is what they go shopping for.”

In case you missed it, Juicero was a startup that got $120 million in funding to manufacture high-end juicers which were supposed to be the bleeding-edge in juice-related technology. Then Bloomberg View did some investigative reporting and found that you could actually make juice equally well by skipping the $400 juicer and just squeezing the juice packets with your bare hands.

This is, admittedly, pretty silly. But I want to take a step back and suggest a reality check.

While Deadspin was busy calling Silicon Valley “awful nightmare trash parasites”, my girlfriend in Silicon Valley was working for a company developing a structured-light optical engine to manipulate single cells and speed up high-precision biological research.

While FastCoDesign was busy calling Juicero “a symbol of the Silicon Valley class designing for its own, insular problems,” a bunch of my friends in Silicon Valley were working for Wave, a company that helps immigrants send remittances to their families in East Africa.

While Vox was busy writing about how Juicero “says a lot about the state of Silicon Valley right now”, Silicon Valley was leading a revolution in solar power that’s resulted in a 1500% increase in cell installations over the past few years.

While Slate was busy telling us that Silicon Valley companies “repackage familiar ideas and sell them back to us as exemplars of Groundbreaking Disruptive Innovation”, Silicon Valley was shooting a fifteen-story rocket a hundred miles into the air at 4,100 mph, then landing it gently on a 300 foot platform in the middle of the ocean.

While Gizmodo was busy writing that this “is not an isolated quirk” because Silicon Valley investors “don’t care that they do not solve problems [and] exist to temporarily excite the affluent into spending money”, Silicon Valley investors were investing $35 million into an artificial pancreas for diabetics.

While Freddie deBoer was busy arguing that Silicon Valley companies “siphon money from the desperate throngs back to the employers who will use them up and throw them aside like a discarded Juicero bag and, of course, to themselves and their shareholders. That’s it. That’s all they are. That’s all they do”, Silicon Valley companies were busy inventing cultured meat products that could end factory farming and save millions of animals from horrendous suffering while also helping the environment.

Or maybe we should try to be more quantitative about this. I looked at the latest batch of 52 startups from legendary Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator.

Thirteen of them had an altruistic or international development focus, including Neema, an app to help poor people without access to banks gain financial services; Kangpe, online health services for people in Africa without access to doctors; Credy, a peer-to-peer lending service in India; Clear Genetics, an automated genetic counseling tool for at-risk parents; and Dost Education, helping to teach literacy skills in India via a $1/month course.

Twelve of them seemed like really exciting cutting-edge technology, including CBAS, which describes itself as “human bionics plug-and-play; Solugen, which has a way to manufacture hydrogen peroxide from plant sugars; AON3D, which makes 3D printers for industrial uses; Indee, a new genetic engineering system; Alem Health, applying AI to radiology, and of course the obligatory drone delivery startup.

Eighteen of them seemed like boring meat-and-potatoes companies aimed at businesses that need enterprise data solution software application package analytics targeting management something something something “the cloud”.

And the remaining nine were your ridiculous niche Uber-for-tacos startups that we all know and love, including Cowlar (“FitBit for cows – it’s way smarter than it sounds!”); Origin (“Keurig for smoothies”), MoveButter, which compares itself to three different companies I’ve never heard of in its first sentence but seems to be grocery-related in some way; Mere Coffee, a better-tasting coffee machine for small businesses; and LitHit, a smart target for shooting sports. I’m sure somebody in the comments is going to tell me why FitBits for cows is actually a vital service that will revolutionize agriculture, but I’m trying to err on the side of caution here.

I’m concerned that Y Combinator might be so successful that they’re unique in going for status and do-gooding rather than being a real cross-sample of startups (and they also seem to recruit a lot of international startups from outside Silicon Valley). So I also looked at the first twenty startups in the portfolio of Andreessen Horowitz, a famous Valley venture capitalist firm. One of them seemed explicitly prosocial – some kind of science education partnership company. Four of them seemed high-tech or otherwise awesome – including the obligatory aerial-surveying-with-drones company. Twelve seemed to be some sort of enterprise data solution software application package analytics targeting management something something something “the cloud”. And only two of them seemed even a little vapid – eg this high-end photo sharing/printing site. Which is hardly that vapid – nobody would bat an eye at that if it were done by Kodak or Staples.

So although meat-and-potato business/software companies do outnumber really high-tech or altruistic ventures, there’s not a lot of evidence for silly Juicero-style startups being much of the Silicon Valley business community at all. So how come everyone thinks that they are?

Here’s my theory. If you’re an average well-off person, leading your average well-off life, consuming average well-off media and seeing ads targeted at the average well-off demographic, and going over to your average well-off friends’ houses and seeing their average well-off products, which are you more likely to hear about? A structured-light optical engine for cytological research? Or a juicer?

Or to put it another way: there’s a chapter in Unsong (spoiler!) where an archangel brings peace to the Middle East by splitting the Holy Land into two parallel dimensions. Any Jew who enters will find themselves in a united Israel; any Muslim who enters will find themselves in an independent Palestine.

And sometimes I wonder if the same archangel has gotten to Silicon Valley.

If a deeply good person crusading for a better world enters Silicon Valley, she’ll find herself surrounded by deeply good people crusading for a better world. She’ll see mobile apps that track tropical diseases, clean energy startups that fight global warming by directly sucking carbon dioxide out of the air, companies bringing microbanking to poor Nepalese villagers, and boutique pharmaceutical labs searching for cures for orphan diseases.

If a futurist enters Silicon Valley, she’ll find herself surrounded by futurists. She’ll see neural nets and deep learning, reusable rockets and flying cars, high-throughput genome sequencing and CRISPR, metamaterials and nanotechnology.

If a social-media-obsessed narcissist whose view of the world begins and ends with his own Instagram page enters Silicon Valley, he’ll find himself surrounded by social-media-obsessed narcissists whose view of the world begins and ends with their Instagram pages. He’ll see a bunch of streaming video services and Uber-for-hair-products apps and elite pay-to-play dating scams and people trying to disrupt the gymwear market.

And if one of those people who talks about “the cloud” all the time enters Silicon Valley, he’ll find himself surrounded by people who talk about “the cloud” all the time. I have no idea who these people are or what they’re doing, but they all seem really happy with each other and I’m glad they’re enjoying themselves.

They’ll all have their blind-men-and-elephant view of what kinds of things Silicon Valley “does”. And they’ll all be sort of right.

(thinkpiece writers: “Can you believe that Silicon Valley only makes products for shallow elites obsessed with the latest fads? It’s the strangest thing!“)

So I would recommend people stop talking about how Silicon Valley only makes ridiculous overpriced juicers. It’s not that it doesn’t make those. It does, just like everywhere else. A Facebook friend pointed out that QVC has been selling our parents ridiculous overpriced kitchen items since before we were born. Billy Mays pitched the EZ Crunch Bowl, which promised to “revolutionize your cereal-eating experience”. The unique thing about Silicon Valley isn’t that it’s got overpriced status goods designed to separate rich people from their money. The unique thing about Silicon Valley is that it’s got anything else.

I don’t want to downplay the problem. Anything remotely good in the world gets invaded by rent-seeking parasites and empty suits. Silicon Valley is no exception, and raising awareness of the infestation is certainly a public service. But for some reason, it’s hard for me to believe that – let’s say Deadspin – really believes in the spirit of Silicon Valley, really thinks that there was once somewhere that weird nerdy people could get together and produce amazing things for the good of everybody, and that to some degree this is still going on, and is a precious thing that needs to be protected. At its worst, some of their criticism sounds more like a worry that there might still be some weird nerds who think they can climb out of the crab-bucket, and they need to be beaten into submission by empty suits before they can get away. Or maybe that’s just paranoia. Fine, I admit I’m paranoid. But I still feel like people should lay off the criticism a little.

When Capitol Hill screws up, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis get killed.

When Wall Street screws up, the country is plunged into recession and poor families lose their homes.

When Silicon Valley screws up, people who want a pointless Wi-Fi enabled juicer get a pointless Wi-Fi enabled juicer. Which by all accounts makes pretty good juice.

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jsled
94 days ago
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«Here’s my theory. If you’re an average well-off person, leading your average well-off life, consuming average well-off media and seeing ads targeted at the average well-off demographic, and going over to your average well-off friends’ houses and seeing their average well-off products, which are you more likely to hear about? A structured-light optical engine for cytological research? Or a juicer?»
South Burlington, Vermont
duerig
96 days ago
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I often feel like Slate Star Codex starts out with some decent points contrary to the conventional wisdom and then goes too far and over-corrects.

For example, it is true that a lot of genuine innovation comes out of Silicon Valley. And it is important to remember that there have always been stupid ideas growing in the field alongside the good ones. And the fertilizer (BS?) of the valley helps both grow. So to that point, SSC is correct.

But by the end, he seems to want to trivialize the problems of SV and exaggerate problems elsewhere. And that is just too far for me to follow.

When SV companies screwed up and made it easy to spread fake news and game their publishing platforms (like FB and Google did), they helped get a senile, authoritarian rapist access to the button. We can only hope that this will not lead to tens of thousands or more getting killed.

When SV companies screwed up, they did so alongside wall street helping spur the last two big business cycle bubbles and the recession (including families losing their homes) that accompanied them.

And many of the SV's darlings are explicitly rent seeking. Creating fake marketplaces that scams both sides for extra nickels and still can't seem to make a profit. Either mostly scammy like Uber or completely scammy like the fake health care analysis company that recently folded.

So it is a bit much to say that Juicero is somehow emblematic of everything that is happening in SV right now. But it is also an important signpost. Because a single bad idea might be rotten when it comes to harvest and only hurt a few investors and customers involved. But a whole crop of bad ideas all at once can bring about another recession or even undermine many of our longer term institutions which are crucial to keep our society together. We shouldn't overstate how important a high end juicer is. But we shouldn't trivialize the trends that it represents either.
acdha
95 days ago
You nailed his shtick perfectly – too much in love with the contrarian image

Uber’s Efforts to Bypass Nanny Regulators Lead to Federal Criminal Investigation

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Stop Uber protesterWhen The New York Times revealed in March that Uber had a secret tool that helped its drivers bypass municipal government nannies attempting to shut them down, I openly cheered the company on.

But now, Reuters notes, the Department of Justice is investigating Uber to determine whether this tool, called "Greyball," broke the law somehow. Reuters is short on details, unfortunately, as the investigation is in its early stages and the reporting is reliant on unnamed sources.

Greyball is a secret software tool within Uber's app that allowed the company to essentially create a ghost or faked version of its ride-hailing service. If there was a user of the app that the company didn't want to serve but they also didn't want the user to know, it could simulate fake cars and information. The user would request a ride that would never actually arrive, and he or she wouldn't know what was happening.

The utility of such a tool should be obvious to anybody who has been following Uber's conflicts with entrenched taxi interests. In some countries Uber drivers face actual violence from those who do not want to give up their cartelized government-protected domination of on-call transportation. Furthermore, ride-sharing services, just like taxi drivers, have to deal with dangerous people and frauds. If they know a particular person has threatened or harmed their drivers in the past, they have a good reason to quietly want to deny this person access.

But local government officials playing their role in protecting their taxi industry buddies also presented a threat and a challenge. In communities that blocked ride-sharing services (or declined to grant them official permission, to be a little more accurate), drivers risked getting fined and their cars impounded in stings from regulators. So the Greyball tool allowed Uber drivers to avoid these stings and avoid being punished or financially harmed in cities like Portland, Oregon, where regulators were actively trying to keep them from operating.

After the Times exposed Greyball, Uber has ordered that it not be used for the purpose of evading regulators. Now Uber has received a subpoena from grand jury in Northern California seeking information about Greyball and how it works.

Reuters notes that the revelation of the existence of Greyball "triggered a barrage of negative publicity" for Uber. Well, that's certainly not how it played out among those who see the reality of municipal regulation as a tool that protects select entrenched interests against competition.

The reality is that the negative publicity came primarily from those who are already outraged about Uber and the existence of Uber and the threat that ride-sharing presents both to entrenched commercial cartels and also top-down regulatory economic controls that originate from city leaders. From hotels to taxi companies, cities and companies have operated hand-in-hand in working out ways for both to maximize revenue at consumers' expense. The regulatory and taxation system guarantees a flow of money to the city. The system also serves as a massive barrier to entry for new businesses who can't afford to compete. And the consumer ends up paying more, while low-income citizens have fewer opportunities to make money.

Did you hear the recent story that Uber was tracking people's iPhones even when they deleted their app and was threatened by Apple over it? Those basics were factually accurate, but the reality was much more complicated and less sinister: They were trying to prevent fraud from people using stolen phones and credit card numbers. Read more about what actually happened here.

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