Tuesday, October 9, 2018

#1000: It's Been Real, But Good-Bye

Way back in 2014, when I was only paying $500 a month for health insurance for a private plan that covered my wife and me, I had a thought.

There had always been "thoughts," rattling around in my head about this notion or that.  Things like the fact that "moderate" was a stupid term to use for people, since that didn't define anyone's actual beliefs so much as their approach to debate, so much so that two "moderates" could be in 100% opposition to each other.

Things like the notion that "maturity" is really an accumulation of cause-and-effect relationships that allow us to guide our actions by their expected outcomes, relationships I called "cubbyholes" and had always enjoyed describing to people.

Things like the fact that because socialism doesn't work, the power-hungry had to be brutal in their politics, because they couldn't win arguments based on performance, past outcomes or pretty much anything else.

So I got the idea that I would set up a sort of provisional blog site and write a few of these notions down as essays.  I figured if I wrote them and no others occurred to me, that would be it; I'd just take down the site and go do something else.

But then after the first few, a few more occurred to me, driven by life, or the news, or whatever.  How our tax code had gotten like a plate of spaghetti.  How America's Got Talent had lost contact with the notion of "talent."  The economics of baseball.  D.C. statehood, and how D.C. idiotically insisted that its employees had to live in the District.

It didn't end.  And I found myself treating the essays as a daily exercise in thinking and writing, a bit of a distraction from the formulaic writing I did for a living the rest of the day.  Sometimes I would have as many as five essays stacked up, already written, after a weekend of events and thoughts.  Sometimes I'd wake up in the morning with nothing, thinking "What do I care about today?".

And now, 1,000 essays later, it's time to let it go.

It got very political during the 2015-16 campaign season, and the evolution of my feelings toward now-President Trump as a candidate are documented in almost diary form, given the percentage of that period's daily essays devoted to the campaign.  And on the day of the election, I wrote not about the candidates or their platform, not an encouragement to go vote, or to vote for anyone particularly, but an essay on why I don't really like dogs very much.

I've had diversions to topics that were just the event of the week, and those that reflected many months of cogitation.  And in all that time, although this one is probably my very favorite, five columns have become the most-read of all the 1,000 columns of which this one will be the last.  So I'm going to go out by sharing them with you.

#5: Political Courage Needed, Sen. Franken -- a wasted appeal to Al Franken, who was a senator then before having to resign for being caught groping a sleeping woman and, absurdly, photographing it.  He had asked a question of Jeff Sessions in his confirmation hearings about Russian contacts in his capacity with the Trump campaign.  Although Sessions had a passing contact with a Russian in his Senate role, he answered "no", logically thinking that the question had been about campaign contacts. Franken knew that from the context of his own question, and I thought he should have the guts to say that.

#4: The Privilege of Dating -- a piece exposing the immaturity of 20-somethings in the context of a dating set-up feature in the Washington Post.  I get into the utter lack of understanding of life and the world on the part of two wide-eyed young people with no possible insight into what socialism does to societies on which it is imposed.

#3: A Look Back from 2019 or So -- written shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump, where I suggest that all the people who back then were expressing "fear" about this or that (actually, they just kept saying "fear" as if we were supposed to get why they were afraid) should write down what they were afraid of President Trump doing, and then maybe in mid-2019 they should look back at that list and realize how many of those fears would turn out to have been completely unfounded.

#2: Adieu and God Bless, Santa Claus -- a eulogy to my first college roommate in my fraternity house at MIT, who had passed away.  Randy Vereen was a great fellow all his life, but his playing Santa at Christmas time was something that not only he continued to do all his life, but which defined the kind of person he was and would always be.

#1: When Leftist Worlds Collide - Again -- the most widely-read of any of the thousand columns was this one.  A black professional football player in the NFL, Edwin Jackson, had been killed by a drunk driver who was an illegal alien that did not belong in the USA.  The leftist press tried hard to ignore the immigration status of the driver and the fact that, had there been a wall at our southern border, Jackson would still be alive.  But at the same time NFL players were disrespecting the national anthem by kneeling, one of their own had been killed precisely because of lack of border enforcement.  The left, I wrote, had so many constituencies that the inevitable clashes among them for attention were its biggest problem -- as this one so tragically showed.
           _ _ _

I don't doubt that I may add a piece here and there in the future.  I've written one every workday for over four years, and I'm already of a mindset that there is an essay, a point to be made, deriving from at least a quarter of the news stories I read.  And there is still a World Series this year, and the Red Sox are still in the hunt for it, up 2-1 on the hated Yankees in the Division Series, as I write this.

But the daily commitment expires here, today.  I'm going to pour a glass of something (I like beer.  I still like beer, to quote the newest justice of the Supreme Court) at some point, start with #1 and read through all 1,000 to see what I may have learned about myself.  That could take a while.  But I'll make time.

And to all of you, the 90,000-plus who have read this far, I want to thank you for getting through the thickness of my prose and caring what I had to say.

Adieu and God bless.
Bob

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, October 8, 2018

How Democrats Will Be Remembered -- Hint: Not Well

I am beginning to write this shortly after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that she would be the "yes" vote needed to give us the presumption that Judge Brett Kavanaugh would indeed be confirmed by the Senate over the weekend, as indeed was the case.  Immediately thereafter, the far less-courageous Joe Manchin (D-WV), facing a difficult reelection in a state that President Trump won by 40 points, also indicated that his was a "yes" vote.

[Note -- in fairness, there is word that Sen. Manchin had already informed the White House earlier that he was a "yes" vote regardless, but I would give the senator more of the benefit of the doubt had that been announced publicly ... it was not.]

In both cases, the senator's office had been, and then was thereafter, the scene of screaming protestors who somehow are allowed in the Senate building (hopefully through metal detectors, but we don't know).  They looked like robotic hippies from the '60s, chanting slogans that were not going to change anyone's mind about the issues.

But they could -- and will -- change people's minds about the people who paid them to be there and to scream and make general horse's rears of themselves.

That would be, um, Democrats.

I am of the opinion, and I don't mean this to be self-serving as a conservative, that the Democrats are going to get their backsides handed to them in the fall elections.  It will be analogous to the shock they got in 2010, when the voters rebelled against their seizure of power to ram Obamacare down our throats.  Or to 2016, when the Trump revolution kicked the Obamas and Clintonistas out of the White House for good.

But it will be for a slightly different reason.  Those other times, it was for other reasons.  The 2010 voters, reminiscent of the 1994 midterm, kicked the Democrats out of the majority in Congress because they had far overstepped their bounds.  When they had the presidency and both houses of Congress, and acted so dictatorially and unilaterally, the voters were moved to end that domination decisively.

In 2016, it was a clear lack of direction that doomed Hillary Clinton.  She was a terrible candidate with no evident platform, providing no reason to vote for her, all while Donald Trump had some discrete proposals and a pledge to bring a businessman's acumen to a job that sorely needed it.

More relevant to this case, President Trump has succeeded since, both economically (of course) and diplomatically (who would have guessed?).  Against that backdrop, one of actual performance in office and making life perceptibly better for Americans, we have, um, the Democrats.

And who represents them?  Well, in one sense there are Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and other unpleasant types, bringing no productive platform except "resistance", which falls flat when people have gotten actual pay increases and now have jobs.

But in the other sense, and more importantly, you have the people that the voters see as the representatives of the Democrats, and those are the elevator screamers, the picketers, the Antifa types throwing chairs through windows.  And the leaders of the Democrats apparently thought that those were the people who somehow were going to sink the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.

I don't know why they might have thought that, but they're certainly the ones who orchestrated the protests and still are doing so, so they must have thought they would be effective.

Unfortunately for them, though, they did not, in that calculation, consider that they might lose.  By not thinking of that, they missed the possibility that they would lose, and that would mean that not only would Brett Kavanaugh be on the Supreme Court, but that the Democrats would now be seen by the voters as represented by the screaming protestors -- being them, in fact.

When America goes to the polls in November in places like North Dakota, and West Virginia and Montana and Missouri and other places where incumbent Democrats are running to hold Senate seats where President Trump won, they will not be in the same frame of mind as they were, even in 2016.

They will be voting for a senatorial candidates who will continue our turn toward policies promoting economic prosperity, and against one who allowed the uncivil screamers in the elevators to represent them.  If the Democrats don't immediately disavow them, they will get hammered in November.

Because otherwise, the screamers will be the Democrats.  The only ones.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Friday, October 5, 2018

If It Was About Beer, What About Obama's Coke Habit?

Last week, we were treated to the splendid theater of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) poring over the yearbook entries for Judge Brett Kavanaugh from some 35 years ago.  Whitehouse had his head in the yearbook, while asking about beer, and flatulence, and more beer, and why a classmate was referred to with the term "ffffffffffff" in the book.

I watched it, although I was laughing pretty hard at the pathetic spectacle of a United States Senator asking someone who is about to be a Justice of the Supreme Court, about things that couldn't possibly be any less relevant, but asking with a very serious tone in his role of advice and consent.  But that's the Democrats for you -- if it means possibly delaying the process another five minutes, they'll do it, as long as they can keep aborting babies (which is, of course, what this is all about).

And let us leave no doubt about the quote from the hearings that may last, at least in this house, even longer than we call Cory Booker "Spartacus" for his imbecilic reference to the old movie, in trying to make a point we have since forgotten.  In every subsequent election, Booker will now be derisively referred to as "Spartacus" before being laughed off the stage.  He asked for it.

But what we will longer remember and cite here was Judge Kavanaugh's impassioned opinion about beer.  "I like beer", he said in his opening statement and then in answers later.  "I still like beer!", he then added. 

Don't you just love that?  I know we did.  It didn't change our opinion of the type of Supreme Court Justice that he would be, but at least we know how he might relax after a long day of briefs and judicial arguments.

The questions or, more specifically, the answers to Sen. Whitehouse's odd line of inquiry, will not change his vote on the confirmation one bit.  He is a blue guy from a blue state being run into the ground by blue leaders, one who is never going to vote to confirm a nominee of President Trump even if he sniffed the nominee's butt and smelled flowers.

But he did ask the question, and so I have one for the good Senator.  So let us set the tone one more time.  Imagine that I'm a reporter doing an interview of Sen. Whitehouse live, and he is a captive audience.  Imagine that for the moment:

"Senator, you appear to have been particularly interested in Judge Kavanaugh's high-school life and his friends back then, and especially with his consumption of beer.  You are not explicitly stating that having consumed a lot of beer in one's college days is an automatic disqualifier, even against a pristine 30-year judicial career, correct?"

"Uh, no," Whitehouse will answer.

"OK, I'll make that assumption.  But, of course you are not voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh anyway, as we know.  So what if, instead of beer, he had been using cocaine, and everything else was the same as far as incidents, the yearbook, all that.  Tell me how that would have been different in terms of just how aggressively you were going to oppose the nomination.  After all, cocaine is an illegal drug and now we're in Federal crime land."

"Well, that would have been a lot worse", the senator would have responded, or something like that.


"OK, then.  But Senator, you were a big supporter of Barack Obama, weren't you?  You were a senator the entire time that he was president.  Barack Obama admitted to extensive use of cocaine, a drug that it is illegal under Federal law to possess, use and distribute.  He used it during the same age period that Judge Kavanaugh supposedly made the yearbook entries, and drank the beer that you seemed intent on asking him about as if it actually were some type of disqualifier.

"And yet, Senator, I'm still curious as to why you did not call for hearings by the Judiciary Committee in 2009, when your party still held the chairmanship, into the capacity of Barack Obama to continue to be president, given that he had done what you admit are worse things during his teen years, than Judge Kavanaugh apparently did? 

That should probably say it all right there, even though I'm straw-manning by putting words in Whitehouse's mouth.  The left cares about what the left wants, which is power, by any means necessary, including by worrying about the amount of flatulence generated by a 17-year-old high school student.

We must do what we can at the ballot box, the proper place, to see that they don't get it.  The power, I mean. 

Their flatulence is a given.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Our Depressingly Failing Memories

I have known my friend Gary for well over thirty years, through our membership in the Alexandria Harmonizers and singing together in a quartet for a while in that time.  We actually discovered more in common as the years went on, and I gained a great deal of respect for him professionally as I came to understand his skills as a communicator, and as a coach of those needing to speak and communicate better.  His ideas are worth hearing.

We don't see each other these days, living in different states, but I had to call him to pick his brain about a friendly matter the other day, and we caught up on things.  One thing, as it turned out, was that he didn't know I wrote this site every day, and I committed to send him an email with a link to it, and some links to favorite columns of mine.

One, of course, was "Adieu and God Bless, Santa Claus", which I wrote a few years back, on the passing of my first college roommate and fraternity brother Randy, a friend from Marion, South Carolina.  I think I sent Gary maybe 7-8 links, and then after I sent them I thought perhaps I might want to go back and read them again, since I might have written something I'd need to explain (or apologize for).

Well, I didn't think I had written anything offensive, and indeed I hadn't, but I made an interesting discovery.  In "Adieu and God Bless", I made a passing reference to a friend of his from high school who had gone to Harvard (we were at MIT nearby, of course), and who had stopped by our fraternity house once.

Now I have read that piece I wrote maybe thirty times.  It was read aloud at his funeral in 2015, and it wasn't all that long ago that I read it again, prior to last night.  But I was sitting on the couch last night reading it again, when I stopped at the reference to the friend at Harvard.  Wait a minute, I thought with a startled pause, that wasn't Randy's friend! The Harvard fellow -- and I even remembered his name -- was the high school friend of Kevin, a different fraternity classmate from South Carolina.

In other words, I had written, and then repeatedly read, an account of a friendship from 46 years previously, without realizing it was simply incorrect in identifying a person.  I was sure enough of my account to put it on the Internet, where everything is always 100% accurate, as we know.  Didn't give it another thought for three years.

How are those decades-old memories, we ask ourselves?  I had no sooner made that self-revelation about the Harvard friend, when my mind made the easy leap to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings filling our news this week.  I turned to my best girl and told her what I had discovered, and that apparently my memory was a bit leakier -- in fact, more deceptive than leaky -- than I had realized.

This past week we have been hearing allegations that have been of incidents that supposedly happened 35 years ago, and for which nothing was reported at the time.  In Dr. Christine Ford's case, her memory was inadequate to identify a year, a location, nor how she arrived at, or left, the site of the incident she alleges happened.

Since she was 15, she would have to have gotten a ride from someone thereafter, and that person would have known something happened.  The perfect corroborator, it would be, which makes the lack of that name rather convenient for those trying to keep the allegations nebulous and unprovable.  How 'bout that.

Our memories are funny things.  They keep bits and pieces and, as my own recollection incident apparently showed, occasionally move those back and forth a bit when the incidents start getting decades layered over them.

When people's lives and careers are at stake, it's about time we recognized that.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

More Lessons from the Kavanaugh Hearings

Like many, I had the hearings late last week on TV in my office.  Those hearings were, of course, the ones of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be a justice of the Supreme Court.

Like many, the whole charade disgusted me.  In an attempt to be fair, the chairman (Chuck Grassley, R-IA) had allowed the testimony of a psychology professor who claimed to have been -- well, it's not really clear exactly what all was done except that it stopped short of actual rape -- so let's say attacked, by the nominee back in the early 1980s, or the mid-1980s, depending on which of her statements was to be believed.

This testimony could have been delivered many weeks earlier, except that the letter from the professor was held from the committee by the ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is not coincidentally running for re-election, even though she would be 91 at the end of her term if elected. 

Why she sat on the letter for so long, not airing it until after the full hearings concluded, and why she did not even raise the issue with Judge Kavanaugh during her private meetings with him is apparently never going to be answered.  How the letter came into the hands of the press, although it was only in the possession of Feinstein's staff (and that of the California congressman it was also provide to), is also unknown.

But we know.

Christine Ford, the professor in question, is at best a pawn in an ugly game of chess being played by Democrats in a bizarre attempt to forestall a non-existent attack on Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS ruling effectively legalizing abortion.

In other words, in an effort to defend the killing of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies a year, the destruction of a man who has an exemplary 30-year record of service to his nation is apparently collateral damage.  That is so, even though there is almost no chance that Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe, since he has testified to his opinion that it is, at this point, settled law.

But that is not enough.

I truly detest when people talk past each other, let alone doing so for hours at a time.  And yet that is what went on last week as senator after senator on the Democrats' side went on about how wonderful Dr. Ford was, even though she was not able to testify specifically to anything identifiable in regard to the event, and everyone she named as having been there denied that the event occurred.

She was not able to identify the location, nor was she able to explain how she got home from the event, although at 15 she would have had to have arranged for a ride -- and could not name who had taken her home, let alone from where, when the driver would certainly have seen and remembered her alleged distress.  Not a single element provided by Dr. Ford would have been enough for a prosecutor to bring a case to a grand jury, let alone to expect charges to have been filed.

Now we have the FBI doing yet another investigation, although it will take next to no time to do so, given that there is no physical evidence to examine, and only a handful of people to interview.  As I write this, I believe that the interviewing is about done.

The FBI will almost assuredly come back with a report that changes nothing, that will state that no corroboration was able to be found for anything Dr. Ford alleged.  She might have been attacked, but if it was by Kavanaugh, it cannot remotely be shown by either evidence or corroborating testimony that it was.  And in this country, we require that, before we think about punishing anyone.

When the FBI does come back with that finding of nothing more than was "known" before, not one senator on the Democrats' side will change their vote, because they're not interested in supporting Dr. Ford; they're interested in stopping President Trump from appointing a Supreme Court justice.  And it is all about abortion, lest there be any doubt.

And Judge Kavanaugh and his family will continue (as, it should be known, is to some extent the case with Dr. Ford) to be the target of threats and vituperation from social media.  Given that Maxine Waters, a Democrat congressman, has encouraged physical confrontation with Republicans, it is not inconceivable that those threats to the judge may become physical.

Collateral damage, in the interest of killing unborn babies.  This is the lesson of the Kavanaugh hearings, and it is beyond unfortunate that we have come to this contemptible practice, the politics of personal destruction, on the part of the Democrats.  And I really don't have that much concern about the abortion issue myself; certainly not with much passion compared to most.

They don't care.  They have no "envelope" to regard their actions as being outside, because the left has no guidance, no morals, no sense of decency.  No constraints.  Extremism in the defense of abortion is, apparently, no vice to them.

We pray that the voters this November reject that notion in the best way possible.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Bullies in the Land of the Moose

I don't know if the mainstream media actually covered it, but late Sunday night Canada caved in the standoff on overhauling NAFTA.

Now, trade talks are dull as all-get-out, but I think we knew the deal here.  President Trump was never a fan of the North American Free Trade Agreement, feeling that it had locked in some unfair practices that allowed jobs to escape the USA.  As president, he pledged to overhaul it in such a way that it would be fair to this country.

He had a tremendous objection to the tariffs placed on dairy products, making American dairy farmers essentially locked out of the Canadian marketplace by import duties that tripled the price of milk from the USA.  This he regarded as totally unfair (I believe the tariff was meant to protect Quebecois dairies and was related to the weird political relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada, but that was Canada's problem which they were making ours).  He felt it needed to be fixed -- now.

What previous president would have gone to the land of the moose and the loon and the Mounties and Molson and actually said something like "Justin, you can take that dairy tariff back down to something reasonable, or I'm going to slap a tariff on the cars you hosers make up there.  How's that work for you, eh?"

The answer is that no previous president, Democrat or Republican, would have done that, not just because we actually love Canada and Canadians (I'm a big fan, myself), but that our historic posture would have been to cave and do something around the edges.  We can't possibly offend another country, can we?

But Donald Trump, as we know, is not like anyone else who has sat in the Oval Office -- not a bit.  In his view, he is the president of the United States, and is responsible first for bettering the lives of the people of the USA, lowering taxes, creating jobs, arguing on behalf of our people in the world's forums.

He was ready to walk away from the trade-talk table and focus on the new relationship with Mexico, which had already agreed to a significant update to NAFTA.

And that's the point today.  If our friends to the north were taking advantage of us when we had all the leverage -- and we surely did, given the size of our import volume -- then what do you think the rest of the world which, for the most part is not as friendly toward us as Canada is, was doing to us?

The folding by Justin Trudeau is a real watershed moment in American foreign relations.  It tells us that we have been bullied by our close friends, as well as by our less-close friends.  It tells us that we actually have leverage that no other country can claim, and that we need to start using it, rather than being the patsy to the economic bullies of the world.

I don't actually see Canada as a bully, of course.  They have this odd internal political dynamic up there that the USA's dairy farmers were being punished for.  But they also make or assemble a lot of cars up there that end up in the USA market.  They couldn't really expect that we would punish our own dairy industry, but let those cars come rolling in untaxed.

What could they have expected?  We never stood up to them before, so that while they might not have seen their intransigence as bullying, the outcome was the same as if it had been, for years and years.

Until we actually had a president of the USA, not, as he reminds us, of the world.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, October 1, 2018

Cabs and Cars and Tobacco, Oh My!

OK, this piece really has nothing to do with tobacco, pretty much, although there might be an analogy I bring in later.  But you can't do a "lions and tigers and bears" spoof without three things, so I stretched.

Technology Review is the MIT alumni magazine, combining an actual set of articles on very cutting-edge technologies with news about my alma mater and whereabouts and stories of alumni.  It is published six times a year, and as the permanent secretary of the Class of 1973, I receive a printed copy without having to donate to the university, which I won't do as long as Jonathan "Obamacare" Gruber is still employed and teaching young people there.

In the latest edition's technology section, there was a piece about Taiwan, and how they were dealing technologically with issues between the nation's Uber drivers and its taxicab industry.  These two forces are at odds in a lot of places, including New York City, where I wrote about the City's decision to pick a winner and a loser on purely political grounds.

Without getting into the whole "vTaiwan" point of the article, suffice it to say that the island nation was trying to come up with a reasonable accommodation between the two industries.

But it made me think.

I really, really do not like governments picking winners and losers except where government contract awards are concerned, where by definition winners and losers are picked, but based on merit and cost, and not on politics.  Mostly.

In New York City, the mayor and council decided to limit the number of Uber drivers so as not to cause any competition for the taxicab business there, which generates lots of revenue and possibly bribes (often called "campaign donations") to the City and its leaders.

Well, when I read that the Taiwanese were dealing with a very similar situation, I thought back to New York and I let my mind wander, which is rarely a good thing unless I need a topic for an article here.

What, I thought, would have happened if there were neither a taxi nor an Uber system in the city at all.  Suppose that all privately-owned cars were banned, but starting January 1, 2020 the city would allow commercial passenger-carrying vehicles only.  Would there even be a taxi service started then?

In other words, if the notion of passenger-carrying vehicles were allowed with no predecessor model to start from, would we invent both an Uber and a taxi system?  Or would there be an Uber system alone?

I don't use either, since I don't travel and I have my own car when I do go somewhere.  I have used taxis in my life -- actually drove a cab for a short while -- and I've used Uber once.  And I realize that in some places, like dense cities, a service where you can just wave down an orange-yellow-colored vehicle because so many are out there, well, maybe that would be useful compared to a summon-by-smartphone model.

But I don't know if taxis would have proliferated to where they are today, highly protected but expensive to get a license to operate, if a free-flowing Uber presence were out there already.  And if the demand for cabs would have been fairly tiny had Uber been out there previously, well, perhaps the taxi industry, coming in after Uber, might not even start up, or at least be a simple niche industry, not one protected by the City.

Maybe both Taiwan and New York City should look at which service it should allow to shrink back based on consumer demand among its citizenry.  Or (gasp!) let the market decide.

If you took them away, and then allowed them to start up again and compete on a totally even playing field, well, you get the idea, I hope.  Sort of like the fact that if tobacco were discovered tomorrow instead of 400 years ago, there would be a whole lot fewer people getting lung cancer -- especially since, if you removed all the historic rationalization for certain states to protect the industry, people wouldn't voluntarily think to roll that stuff up and smoke it.  There, analogy.

I hate it when governments pick winners and losers.  And I do hope when that sort of contention happens, we need to use the square-one test -- if the two solutions didn't exist yesterday, what would be most sought by the market?

Just a thought to start the week.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton