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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015 154

An anonymous reader writes that yesterday Uber announced a cap on surge pricing during the mammoth snow storm hitting the northeast this week; there will still be surge pricing, but it will be capped at 2.8 times the usual fares. The cap comes after an agreement struck between Uber and the New York City Attorney General’s office in January 2014 that required Uber to limit prices during “abnormal disruptions of the market”, including emergencies and natural disasters. Uber also announced a national policy for its price limits during those emergencies. ... While Uber plans to limit dynamic pricing during this storm, the company has had a bad history with emergency situations and surge pricing. In late 2012, Uber received criticism for raising fares during Hurricane Sandy. (The agreement with the NY AG came in part as a result of Hurricane Sandy backlash.)
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

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  • by weloytty ( 53582 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @10:39AM (#48913769)

    The purpose of the elastic pricing was to make sure that there was always a nice supply of drivers. Cap the prices, and you won't have as many drivers available to drive you around in the snow. Econ 101, right?

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @10:45AM (#48913807)

      They could still pay the drivers more, without charging the passengers more, if they actually want people to believe they are only trying to help.

      • They still need to eat, too.
        • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:03AM (#48913983)

          Who still needs to eat? The billionaire owners of Uber?

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            Who still needs to eat? The billionaire owners of Uber?

            If they did not need or want to make money — commonly referred to as "needing to eat" in business vernacular — they would've retired to a sunny place long ago.

            Fortunately, unlike with taxis, we don't need to decide for them — they have ample motivation to keep fighting for our wallets, hearts and minds or else the competition will come in and eat their lunch. Econ 101.

            • That's not as magic as people want it to seem; but it is a force to be reckoned with. Do note that most goods are priced substantially above the minimum business viable price: there's huge mark-up on all kinds of shit, at all levels, even in markets with healthy competition. Apartments are practically divorced from price competition, for example, and tend to only shift prices with general demand (e.g. they get cheaper in a tough economy, they get more expensive when more middle class move to an area, but
              • by mi ( 197448 )

                Apartments are practically divorced from price competition

                They aren't a good example, because they are the most massively-regulated thing out there (in the large illiberal cities).

                they get more expensive when more middle class move to an area

                That's perfectly natural — the price-rise is easily explained by the rise in "opportunity cost". The rental unit's continued existence as a rental needs to compete with the possibility of selling it for a nice lump sum and investing the money elsewhere.

                • Which state is Illibera in, again? I'm not really understanding your point.

                  Is it...

                  1. I hate hippies
                  2. ...
                  3. Profit!

              • "but they don't become cheaper when more landlords own the same limited number of apartments" - other than begging the question why do you think they would?

      • by schlachter ( 862210 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:13AM (#48914061)

        It's a company. They are not in the "only trying to help" business. What company has ever done that? They're in the grow market share and make money business...by filling a need in society and adhering to local laws when needed.

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          Exactly my point. They are only trying to make money for themselves, and if exploiting a disaster make them more money, they will do that. Yet here we have people (like the OP) trying to claim that they are 'ensuring there are enough drivers'. Bullshit.

          • by LoyalOpposition ( 168041 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:34AM (#48914223)

            Exactly my point. They are only trying to make money for themselves, and if exploiting a disaster make them more money, they will do that. Yet here we have people (like the OP) trying to claim that they are 'ensuring there are enough drivers'. Bullshit

            Let me see...I can get out in this snow, go several extra blocks, pick up someone I don't know and drive them somewhere. I could get 2.8x. Or I could stay in next to this fire, drink this rum & coke, and call in 'sick' today. Screw it. Sorry, Uber--not available.

            ~Loyal

            • Neither of you needed to be on the road anyway.
            • Let me see...I can get out in this snow, go several extra blocks, pick up someone I don't know and drive them somewhere. I could get 2.8x. Or I could stay in next to this fire, drink this rum & coke, and call in 'sick' today. Screw it. Sorry, Uber--not available.

              Considering the blizzard, this is a good thing.
            • Exactly my point. They are only trying to make money for themselves, and if exploiting a disaster make them more money, they will do that. Yet here we have people (like the OP) trying to claim that they are 'ensuring there are enough drivers'. Bullshit

              No, he's claiming that capitalism...i.e. supply and demand...will ensure enough drivers as long as the sky is the limit on the rates that can be offered or charged. Putting a cap on rates will prevent that. His point has nothing to do with helping people...beyond the extent to which allowing supply and demand to take its natural course will help people meet their needs.

          • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:57AM (#48914425) Homepage

            Exactly my point. They are only trying to make money for themselves, and if exploiting a disaster make them more money, they will do that. Yet here we have people (like the OP) trying to claim that they are 'ensuring there are enough drivers'. Bullshit.

            Free market pricing is desirable BECAUSE it ensures that there aren't shortages. That doesn't mean that this is the primary motivation of the participants in a market.

            When you buy a smartphone you're not doing it to reward some kid for studying hard to become an engineer, but that is the result of your actions all the same. The smart kid isn't building the phone so that you personally can have one, but that is the result of his actions all the same.

            All the benefits of a free market tend to be side-effects, but they're benefits all the same.

            What is the alternative, capping prices and watching everybody stay home, so that you're stuck freezing on the side of the street when nobody wants to go pick you up?

            • Exactly! Stop the bullshit about the motivation of the driver or Uber or whoever. You want a ride or not? If yes, take it, pay the price and shut-up. If the price it too high, less people will make money. Everyone at the end of the day is at the same thing: have as much money as he/she can. The rest is pure bullshit and marketing. "We-want-to-help my ass!"

            • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

              Free market guarantees shortages that is it's function. What you are really saying is if you can not afford it, meh, fuck you, ha ha, die in the blizzard. That bullshit capitalist lie has to end, in the balance between need versus greed, capitalism is all about psychopathic greed and the bullshit propaganda that it comes wrapped in.

              • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

                Free market guarantees shortages that is it's function. What you are really saying is if you can not afford it, meh, fuck you, ha ha, die in the blizzard.

                Not being able to afford something doesn't mean that there is a shortage.

                And I'm not suggesting people that can't afford a cab should die in a blizzard. Free markets and socialism are orthogonal. You can have either with or without the other.

                If you're going to die in a blizzard, then call the police. They won't charge you to respond, and if we're talking a really big issue then the national guard should be bussing people out of dodge.

                There is also no need to have poor people in a free market. You can gi

          • by ranton ( 36917 )

            Exactly my point. They are only trying to make money for themselves, and if exploiting a disaster make them more money, they will do that. Yet here we have people (like the OP) trying to claim that they are 'ensuring there are enough drivers'. Bullshit.

            He said they are ensuring there are enough drivers, not ensuring there are enough drivers for a charitable reason. They are ensuring there are enough drivers to maximize revenue. Where did any of the parent posters try to make Uber out to be charitable in this situation?

          • Exactly my point. They are only trying to make money for themselves, and if exploiting a disaster make them more money, they will do that. Yet here we have people (like the OP) trying to claim that they are 'ensuring there are enough drivers'. Bullshit.

            In crises, you get rationing no matter what. If you don't regulate prices you'll get rationing thru price. If you do regulate prices, you'll get rationing thru scarcity. Putting limits on Uber means you deny some billionaire fat cat some money, but you also deny the people who really need a ride and are willing to pay for it the ability to get one. I'd rather have the latter system where I can get what I need and am willing to pay for, because I can always decide I don't need it that bad, but I can't conjur

        • Few companies have ever done that(probably not zero, I'm sure at least a few charities have been structured such that they count as 'companies' in legal terms); but any company with a PR budget has wished to appear (at least in part) to be doing that. Given the number and size of the world's PR budgets, I can only assume that a great many companies have wished to appear to do that.

          I don't know how much Uber HQ values good PR, though given their zillion-odd entanglements in markets where they are dubiousl
        • You make a profit in a voluntary market only by giving people what they want. Someone wants what you have more than they want the money.

          It's people like AG that hurts people. There are people that would rather pay $100 to get home than pay $500 for a hotel room.

        • Regular taxi companies don't gouge anybody in a natural disaster. And in my community, when there is a disaster or disruption people work together to get through it, businesses that choose to stay open keep their regular prices, even if a hot meal might be able fetch a higher price when half the restaurants are closed. But gouging your customers in an emergency, just because you can, is not a required aspect of business, or even necessarily profitable in the long run.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:15AM (#48914077)

        if they actually want people to believe they are only trying to help.

        They are a business, not a charity. So no one should expect them to be "only trying to help". Even if they wanted to contribute some profits to charity, helping some investment banker get to his job on Wall Street by subsidizing his fare, probably isn't the most worthy of causes.

      • They could still pay the drivers more, without charging the passengers more, if they actually want people to believe they are only trying to help.

        Why is this rated 5? Yes, paying drivers more *might* slightly increase supply but my guess is that the number of drivers is somewhat
        fixed so without also charging passengers more you do nothing on the demand side. The point of demand pricing is to reduce demand
        so that you don't overwhelm the relatively fixed supply. If your goal is to always have cars available, then increasing the price while
        paying the drivers the same would actually be a better solution than increasing the pay while charging the sam

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by danheskett ( 178529 )

          Why is this rated 5? Yes, paying drivers more *might* slightly increase supply but my guess is that the number of drivers is somewhat

          You guess? Well lets just throw out the Iron Clad Law of Supply & Demand, on which almost all of the worlds productive economy is based, because you guess.

          fixed so without also charging passengers more you do nothing on the demand side. The point of demand pricing is to reduce demand
          so that you don't overwhelm the relatively fixed supply. If your goal is to always have ca

          • You guess? Well lets just throw out the Iron Clad Law of Supply & Demand, on which almost all of the worlds productive economy is based, because you guess.

            I agree completely with the rest of your post. My "guess" is not about how supply/demand works.
            My "guess" was that occasional short-term higher pay for drivers won't increase the supply much.
            From what I've heard alot of uber drivers are either people who do it as a job or people who pick up
            someone when they are going that way anyways. At only 3 times normal pay and only a temporary
            price hike, you aren't going to see a huge number of people who aren't already set up to do it jump
            in and start being an uber

      • They could still pay the drivers more, without charging the passengers more, if they actually want people to believe they are only trying to help.

        If Uber were smart, they'd do just that in order to establish themselves as a reliable resource during emergencies. It would be good PR and also make it politically tougher for the local power structure to shut them down. Sure they'd lose money during crises, but they'd make up for it with a ton of revenue during normal operations.

    • Nor will an individual be able to spend his/her way out of the snow. Even if he/she offers the Uber driver $500 to take him to work/doctor/etc, they will be usurped by someone with $30 because of a fare cap. Seems wrong of the government to interfere here.

    • Econ 101 yes. However during cases of emergencies, demand may not be rational, as the value of their currency is less than the value they are trying to protect.
      If you are freezing to death and the only thing that can save your life would be using that check in your pocket for a million dollars, you would burn that check, in order to save your life.

      In short during an emergency people need to focus on the short term and not the long term. So Supply vs Demand breaks down, as the value of money, is only as va

      • You need bread and milk? Sure, you need to keep the prices steady for all. You dont NEED a personal driver to drive you around during a snowstorm or hurricane, so you should pay out the nose for it.
        • Well if you live in a City. And you happen to be in a place where you cannot stay for shelter. Then you will need to be able to get to a place of shelter, your home, a hotel... If Cabs, Busses and public transportation isn't meeting demand, then you may need a personal driver go get you to the proper place of shelter.

        • You need bread and milk? Sure, you need to keep the prices steady for all.

          Even price caps on bread and milk are generally a bad idea. The supply is very rarely fixed. If the price rises, bakers will work overtime to produce extra bread, thus alleviating the shortage. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, gas prices surged, and tanker trucks full of gas started heading into the area from further west to take advantage of the profit opportunity. Then price caps were implemented, and the gas shipments diminished, exacerbating the shortage.

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        If you are freezing to death and the only thing that can save your life would be using that check in your pocket for a million dollars, you would burn that check, in order to save your life.

        If this were literally a matter of life and death then the national guard should be herding people onto trucks to get them out of danger, and shooting looters in the street.

        Since the national guard wasn't around to give people a lift, maybe we should offer additional compensation to the folks who take the risk of getting into an accident so that you don't have to.

        • If this were literally a matter of life and death then the national guard should be herding people onto trucks to get them out of danger, and shooting looters in the street.

          No, that only happens when people are protesting now.

      • Econ 101 yes.

        Oh, good! You've studied economics and are going to make an insightful comment!

        However during cases of emergencies, demand may not be rational, as the value of their currency is less than the value they are trying to protect.

        Oh, crap. That didn't last long. The value of things is the basis of every voluntary exchange. If the exchange is for money, then the buyer values the money less than he values the thing he buys, and the seller values the thing he sells for less than he values the money

        • I think you are confusing value and price. It is not the same thing at all.

          • They clearly are not confusing them. "If the exchange is for money, then the buyer values the money less than he values the thing he buys, and the seller values the thing he sells for less than he values the money he gets" is basically the text book definition of economic value after all.

        • by smartr ( 1035324 )

          Just a thought experiment for you here involving gouging. Say there are 100 nuts available every month due to inherent tree production, and on any normal day of the year, the going market rate averages to $1. While production could increase, increasing production will take time and money where there will not be any sustained demand to make it efficient to do so. Suddenly, one day before a giant blizzard, all the squirrels go bat shit crazy and buy all of the monthly nuts in a single day. The bat shit crazy

          • Just a thought experiment for you here involving gouging...

            That's a good question. Several things will happen. (By the way, I think some of your limitations are counter-factual, but whatever.) If surges in demand are frequent then it will pay speculators to put in a stock. Then when the surges happen they will release the stock, smoothing out the price fluctuations and gaining a profit from their efforts. Nut suppliers will receive increased demand (from nut consumers and speculators) and will respond

    • by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:51AM (#48914375) Homepage Journal

      In Econ 101 you also learn about horizontal and vertical pricing.

      Basically, if the surge price is reasonably high, most drivers will be available. From 1.0 to 1.5 you may raise the number of drivers considerably, but from 3.0 to 3.5 you will probably not motivate many more drivers to go out and drive - most available drivers will already be on the road, and the few who decide against it will not change their mind here because if 3.0 doesn't motivate them, then 3.5 most likely won't because they have important reasons to stay home.

      A cap on such elastic pricing is almost always a good idea.

      • A cap on such elastic pricing is almost always a good idea.

        Exactly. Because otherwise some poor and vulnerable investment banker trying to get to his office, will be exploited by a rich and powerful single mom trying to earn extra grocery money by driving in a blizzard.

         

        • by Tom ( 822 )

          ROFL.

          What a strawman. Which hypothetical investment banker will take Uber and what happened to his limousine and private driver?

      • Hypothetically speaking, if I'm desperate to get somewhere, and I'm willing to pay *whatever it takes*, why is it a good idea to limit the surge pricing?

        If raising the price from 1.0 to 1.5 raises the number of drivers considerably, what about raising it from 3.0 to 4.5? In both cases the price increases by the same multiplier.

        Or what about having an auction system where each person that wants a ride indicates how much they're willing to pay for it? Would you want to cap that as well?

        • by Tom ( 822 )

          Hypothetically speaking, if I'm desperate to get somewhere, and I'm willing to pay *whatever it takes*, why is it a good idea to limit the surge pricing?

          Because other people will pay for your desire.

          Or what about having an auction system where each person that wants a ride indicates how much they're willing to pay for it? Would you want to cap that as well?

          Economists are big fans of auctions and say that's the most fair method to distribute resources. Economists, however, are not known for taking social, cultural or human values into account in their simple models.

          So yes, I would. Man, it really isn't so difficult. Get some history lessons on when and why the taxi business became regulated.

    • The purpose of the elastic pricing was to make sure that there was always a nice supply of drivers. Cap the prices, and you won't have as many drivers available to drive you around in the snow. Econ 101, right?

      You get a D.

      Like a lot of things, "good enough" is often enough. It's not a straight-line or simple curve. Very few things in markets and economies are, despite the fact that many people are horribly prone to assume they are..

      Maybe some people won't think that earning nearly 3x their normal fare isn't good enough, but I'll warrant a lot of them will.

      Conversely, knowing that there's an upper limit on fares may bring in some people who'd otherwise not bother.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      The purpose of the elastic pricing was to make sure that there was always a nice supply of drivers. Cap the prices, and you won't have as many drivers available to drive you around in the snow. Econ 101, right?

      More like "don't piss off people".

      More than one person has taken Uber only to be gouged in the end and realize that catching a regulated cab (who aren't allowed to charge more beyond what's posted on the pricing sheet) would save them half or more off the trip.

      And considering Uber's business model see

      • by Chirs ( 87576 )

        Uber's pricing varies with demand, cabs don't. So if it's a busy time then you'll either pay more for immediate service with Uber, or else wait longer for a normal cab. It's up to the consumer.

    • It is a seesaw between reducing supply and letting all poor people freeze to death because they cannot economically compete with the rich.
    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      The purpose of the elastic pricing was to make sure that there was always a nice supply of drivers. Cap the prices, and you won't have as many drivers available to drive you around in the snow. Econ 101, right?

      Econ 101 has a lot of simple models that seem plausible. Then you have to go out in the world and see if the world actually works as you predicted. Or whether there's something you left out of your simple model.

      Drivers want higher rates, but they also want higher volume. If you're one of the few cabs on the road, you'll spend more time carrying fares and less time cruising for passengers. So if they know there's a shortage of cabs, they'll get into their cabs and go out and make money. That's also Econ 101.

    • I'm old enough to remember capping gas prices in the 1970's where retail prices were held below wholesale. Anybody remember the days where stations had flags out? Red, out of gas. yellow, emergency services only, green gas available. Traveling to Idaho had a string of red. Parked in a small town and spent the night to await the truck in the morning. Most places tried to ration gas to a couple of dollars (couple of gallons) so you constantly drove from station to station instead of filling up. Lines fo

  • Driving ban (Score:5, Informative)

    by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <{silas} {at} {dsminc-corp.com}> on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @10:48AM (#48913829) Homepage

    Most of the affected area seems to have one.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Most of the affected area seems to have one.

      How does this work? I mean it makes sense that you could drive in an emergency (getting someone to hospital, etc). Could a Taxi service offer an "emergency only" service?

      • If it's an emergency that is what the ambulance is for. Sure you can take your own car it's not suggested.

        At least around me fire and police are happy to give emergency workers a ride in. Hell even seen the plow guys do ti.

      • Emergency. Police/fire/ambulance. Big flashing lights and all that. That is what those guys do. Not some Uber schmuck cruising around in his Prius.
      • by nbauman ( 624611 )

        Most of the affected area seems to have one.

        How does this work? I mean it makes sense that you could drive in an emergency (getting someone to hospital, etc). Could a Taxi service offer an "emergency only" service?

        From what I heard on the radio, it sounds as if the cops will enforce the ban with discretion. If you're driving to the hospital in an emergency, they'll let you go. If you're a cop or a doctor getting to his job, they'll let you go. Otherwise, there's a fine of about $1,000.

    • Exactly. I hope that any driver...Uber, personal, licensed taxi, whatever...gets busted hard for driving around during those hours.
      Keep your narrow ass at home.
    • by omems ( 1869410 )
      At least in Manhattan, where the snow is rather unimpressive, it was really nice last night. Cold, sure, but essentially empty streets, other than a bunch of pedestrians. Since most businesses had already called off operations for Tuesday, it was like an adult snow-day.
      I can't wait for the transfer booths to get installed, and we can permanently ban cars.
  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @10:51AM (#48913857)

    They tax booze, tobacco, and anything fun, and raise tariffs, expressly to reduce demand. They subsidize whatever they want more of, to nudge people and to reward cronies.

    Yet they think raising the minimum wage will increase the demand for low skill workers, they think wage and price controls will reduce demand and increase supply, they think capping surge pricing will increase supply and reduce demand, on and on the hypocrisy goes.

    Just go away, nannies. Go away.

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @10:55AM (#48913899) Homepage Journal
      The sympathy isn't for the poor, destitute, unworking American; it's for the hard worker who isn't making enough. We'd rather have 100,000 starving, jobless leeches and 20,000 upstanding, comfortable workers than 50,000 starving leeches and 70,000 struggling workers.
    • Yet they think raising the minimum wage will increase the demand for low skill workers

      Who is "they"? I don't think anyone believes the minimum wage will increase demand for workers. But there is empirical evidence that it doesn't cause much of a decrease, and less harm to employment rates than economic theory would predict. Increasing the minimum wage is still a dumb idea, because most minimum wage workers are not poor (they are secondary earners in middle class households). An increase in the EITC [wikipedia.org] would be a far more efficient way to boost the earnings of low income households.

      • Increasing the minimum wage rather than the EITC has the benefit that more money is paid in taxes, not less. The result, not only are you able to help those who do have a minimum wage job (who by the way, typically are poor, and it's ridiculous to assert otherwise), but you're also able to help those who have found themselves out of work. That, and rebuild the completely fucked highways, pay firemen, stop the sewers leaking, ...

        • Increasing the minimum wage rather than the EITC has the benefit that more money is paid in taxes

          Except that you are taxing the creation of low wage jobs. That is probably not smart policy. People are poor, not because of low pay, but because of NO pay. Most poor households have no earned income at all.

          those who do have a minimum wage job ... typically are poor, and it's ridiculous to assert otherwise

          Claiming that something is "ridiculous" does not make it untrue. Most minimum wage earners are not rich, but they are not poor either. Their average family income is $53k. Citations:

          Very few minimum wage earners are the sole providers for a family [washingtonpolicy.org]
          Typical Minimum-Wage Earners Aren’t Poor [fivethirtyeight.com]
          most m [heritage.org]

          • Except that you are taxing the creation of low wage jobs. That is probably not smart policy. People are poor, not because of low pay, but because of NO pay. Most poor households have no earned income at all.

            You are trying to subdivide the poor in order to push a solution that isn't necessary good. All poor households have low pay and this includes the ones with no pay. Creating more low pay households in order to reduce the no pay households do very little to help the population of poor households and inste

            • if we reduced the total number of poor households with an increased minimum wage

              You are completely missing the point. Raising the minimum wage does NOT reduce the number of poor households, because most minimum wage earners are NOT poor. Increases in the minimum wage go mostly to households above the median. Meanwhile, the cost of the minimum wages mostly go into higher prices, especially for fast food, which is mostly sold to the poor. So the net effect is money being transferred away from the poor.

              The EITC is far more efficient, because it targets only poor households, and the co

              • by mjwx ( 966435 )

                You are completely missing the point. Raising the minimum wage does NOT reduce the number of poor households, because most minimum wage earners are NOT poor.

                Yeah, good luck with that.

                Countries that have a higher minimum wage have less poverty. Hell, counties in the US that have a higher minimum wage have less poverty than those with a lower minimum wage.

                You are completely missing the point.

                He didn't miss your point, he got it. It's just that your point is so horribly wrong its not funny.

                • Countries that have a higher minimum wage have less poverty.

                  Countries that have a higher minimum wage also have far more generous welfare systems. So low poverty is correlated with a higher minimum wage, but not caused by it. America has a minimum wage of about 33% of the median wage. France has the highest, with a minimum wage about 60% of the median. America has less than 6% unemployment, while France has over 10%, and over 25% unemployment among unskilled young people.

      • You haven't been paying attention if you really believe " I don't think anyone believes the minimum wage will increase demand for workers." There are quite a few who believe exactly that. They seem to think that business owners throw all their profits into a pool like Scrooge McDuck so they can swim in it, and all the pay hikes will come out of those Scrooge McDuck pools.

        • There are quite a few who believe exactly that.

          Can you provide a citation of someone that seriously claimed that a higher minimum wage would increase employment? I don't think that even Elizabeth Warren has gone that far.

      • But there is empirical evidence that it doesn't cause much of a decrease, and less harm to employment rates than economic theory would predict.

        The card and Krueger study used a seriously flawed methodology, as did many subsequent studies. They studied fast food places over two years. Fast food places that were created the second year weren't considered, and fast food places that went out of business the second year weren't considered. Since most businesses go out of business within two years of being sta

    • That's an OK rant, I'd give it a C+, or maybe a nice solid B, because of the pernicious influence of the 'self esteem' movement and grade inflation; but you need to remember 'elasticity'. It's a fairly important property of both supply and demand.

      It is undoubtedly true that many political policies(across the spectrum, or whatever the geometry of your preferred political metaphor is) are incoherent, largely because many individuals' own desires are internally inconsistent and, even where they aren't, they
    • Yet they think raising the minimum wage will increase the demand for low skill workers, they think wage and price controls will reduce demand and increase supply, they think capping surge pricing will increase supply and reduce demand, on and on the hypocrisy goes.

      Wrong. They argue that by raising the minimum wage, we lower the amount of corporate subsidy in the form of welfare and medicaid. If they pay their employees a livable wage, we as taxpayers wouldn't be spending as much government money to make up

      • Someone else who hasn't bothered actually reading stuff written in support of minimum wage legislation. They make up all sorts of specious claims as to how employers really do have all that money lying around unused, or how the increased pay will spark improved productivity, or how employers will invest in more training for their suddenly-expensive employees .... yada yada yada. All so very simple, by their reckoning, and they are super smart and know so much more about how to run businesses than the actu

        • Someone else who hasn't bothered actually reading stuff written in support of minimum wage legislation...

          Your worst fear has come true. I'm reporting the arguments given by conservatives that support the minimum wage hike. They make very credible arguments about how not raising the minimum wage to match inflation is nothing more than a government subsidy to industry that only pay their workers the minimum wage (Ron Unz made the argument when talking about the minimum wage in California) .

  • This move by the AG office shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics. But I suppose it also goes to priorities. Is your priority to deliver services to people in need during major disruptive events, or is it to prevent people from having to pay high prices for goods and services during major disruptive events?

    If you want people to be able to get supplies and mobility (via Uber), then you'd let prices find their own level. Nobody wants to be out running a car service in a blizzard. But i

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:00AM (#48913943)

      'They' don't want people on the roads at all. The last thing they want is someone dimwit who says 'for the right price I will ignore the travel bans'.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Let the free market sort it out.
        Let God sort it out.
        Let Darwinism sort it out.

        See? Everybody is against forbidding people into dangerous situations.

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        I'm sure all Uber drivers are responsible, altruistic people and they will only offer you a lift if they are in possession of specially equipped and certified snowstorm-safe vehicles.

    • This move by the AG office shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics.

      Have you ever considered the AG office understands exactly what they're doing, and prefer the negative consequences?

      • by nbauman ( 624611 )

        This move by the AG office shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics.

        Have you ever considered the AG office understands exactly what they're doing, and prefer the negative consequences?

        Or have you considered that the AG office understands basic economics and realizes that these claims of shortages unless we have surge pricing are bullshit?

        • Have you ever considered the AG office understands exactly what they're doing, and prefer the negative consequences?

          Yeah, that was kinda the entire point.

          Or have you considered that the AG office understands basic economics and realizes that these claims of shortages unless we have surge pricing are bullshit?

          Yes. Yes I have. And that is without doubt one of the dumbest assertions of all time. Of course there are shortages. That is the entire economics argument. If there were not shortages, raising prices would not work. Your customers would just go to the competition. It is only when demand is inflexible and supply is short that prices spike.

          When hurricane Wilma blasted south Florida there was no power for 2 weeks (minimum) for most of the bottom half of the state. M

    • Speaking of prices, who pays the price when some untrained Uber taxi driver crashes during the emergency condition, causing emergency services to have to divert resources from where they are needed to handle the greedy idiot who crashed his car? The driver? Uber? Or does society pay for it, and thus have incentive to keep those morons from creating unnecessary dangerous situations in the name of avarice?

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      Nobody wants to be out running a car service in a blizzard.

      I've gotten cabs in blizzards in New York City just like any other days. There are lots of cab drivers willing to drive in any weather for $25-30 an hour.

      My friends from Michigan tell me that a major storm in New York City is like their daily commute to work in Ann Arbor in winter.

  • Uber does a poor job with how they present their pricing. They need to reboot how they present it. You cannot just increase prices, no matter how justifiable it is, without feeling backlash from consumers, because this create a "loss" scenario for them, for which there is no "win" to contrast it.

    Uber should increase their baseline pricing 400% and offer a 75% discount during non-surge/off-peak times. They should make sure the consumer is well aware of this whenever they ride. eg: "Fair cost: $80. Off-p

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