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CSotD: Random Epiphanies

There are many things I don’t understand about IPOs, and Uber going public brings a lot of them to the surface, in large part because there’s a lot about Uber I don’t understand.

It appears that Jimmy Margulies shares my confusion, because the part that seems clear is that, historically, people who signed up as scab labor knew their work was ill-paid and temporary, and only took the work out of desperation.

So when young people began competing with registered cabdrivers, I took it as a sign of desperate times. But then they began attempting to unionize, and I was struck by the cognitive dissonance of a scabdrivers’ union.

Then again, while Occam’s Razor is a good thing for evaluating theories of natural science, it doesn’t cover human behavior, a field in which just because something makes no sense, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

You have to be careful not to assume that everyone in one group is necessarily also in another, seemingly contradictory, group. But I do get a distinct feeling that there are a significant number of people who, if they were going to hear someone speak about the rights of the working people, would cheerfully hail a scabdriver to take them there.

Granted, nobody under 40 or maybe 50 can remember the days when, if the electricians union went out on strike at a plant, there would be no deliveries there because the teamsters would honor the picket line, and you’d better hope the pipes were in good shape because the plumbers wouldn’t come in, either.

This contemporary view of the workers’ struggle is hard to pin down: There are memes on social media urging people not to use the self-check at grocery stores, and it strains my credulity to assume that the people who post and share these appeals are as adamant about protecting the jobs of bank tellers or people who pump gasoline.

In any case, it seems obvious to me, and apparently to Jimmy Margulies, that all the money is at the top of the pile, and the rest seems to boil down to that old punchline, “We’ve established what you are; We’re just haggling over the price.”


And as Alex points out, IPOs are essentially a fixed game. Not many laypeople understand that average investors can’t get in on that initial offering.

Between pre-selected traders and lightening-fast AI systems, you might as well try to buy tickets on-line for a Beatles Reunion Concert.

As for the gag here — that investors only get involved in IPOs in order to re-sell them to suckers for a profit — well, there is many a truth spoken in jest.  There may be a sucker born every minute, but a minute is a long time: Trades are made in milliseconds by automated traders which, I am not making this up, are so fast that physical distance from the trading center is a factor — the speed of data over wire is that competitive.

You’re throwing bullets at guys with machineguns.


Speaking of money and capitalism and such …

David Horsey goes after one of his hometown’s largest employers for their apparent sloppiness with airline safety.

And I’ve got to say that, if Boeing really had a fail-safe system for those who purchased it as an option, Hell may have to build a deeper, hotter circle for everyone involved.


What particularly struck me about this is that it’s at least the second time Horsey has had the cojones to bring the charge against the aeronautics industry.

While other cartoonists were boo-hooing over the Columbia disaster, Horsey leveled accusations against the system, despite its prominence among his readers.


Okay, let’s take a quick break for this

Juxtaposition of the Day


(Loose Parts)

There is no great truth revealed in this Juxtaposition, except that, y’know, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.


Now, then, back to the news:

It looks like the chickenhawks are determined to set us off on another pointless, unwinnable war, and Matt Wuerker is playing the role of Cassandra, offering prophecy that nobody is going to believe.

What’s genuinely hard to believe is that, after what is almost certainly the largest, most destructive blunder in our nation’s history, we’re preparing to waltz back into another completely unnecessary, indefensible Middle Eastern disaster.

It strikes me that part of the problem is a cultural arrogance that was part of imperialism before imperialism was a term.

I did a kids’ history of New York State a few years ago that began before Europeans arrived and treated the 17th century as a meeting of four powers: The Iroquois, the Dutch, the English and the French.

What I found was that the Dutch accepted and adapted to the Iroquois method of trade talks, which were very long and deliberative. A relatively simple negotiation would take several days of feasting and speeches, but the Dutch seemed to be able to deal with the fact that they were in Iroquois country and needed to do things the Iroquois way.

When the English took over the colony, they were far more impatient and wanted the Iroquois to do things their way. However, for the most part, they left the Dutch traders in place and sort of glowered over the delays.

Meanwhile, across the Hudson River in New England, where there were no Dutch, relations between Europeans and native peoples were fraught and bloody, and I think it was largely because of a policy based on the subconscious belief that the English way was the default, and that what other cultures needed, and should want, was to evolve into that proper way of doing things.

The fact that nobody has ever responded to this hegemony with flowers and gratitude — whether it was imposed militarily or economically — has somehow never persuaded these True Believers to question their dogmatic arrogance.

We need to bring back the draft, both sexes, no deferments, to make people question this adventurism.

It’s bad enough that some of our young people are willing to scab for Uber and Lyft.

They shouldn’t be volunteering for this stuff.


Community Comments

#1 David Spitko
@ 12:10 pm

I could not possible agree more about *EVERYONE* getting drafted without exception … maybe delay … but no exception. And offer tasks other than traditional military duty that is assigned by merit … but everyone goes through boot camp.

#2 Hank Gillette
@ 7:33 pm

Maybe I don’t understand what was going on, but could Uber have gotten a toehold if the number of taxicabs was not artificially restricted? The price of taxi medallions in NYC was over $1 million before Uber.

#3 Mike Peterson
@ 3:04 am

One person’s artificial restriction is someone else’s control. I’ve heard that some places want Lyft and Uber out because they add to traffic congestion, but that may just be flak from the cab companies, just as the complaints about dirty cabs (and foreign drivers, tsk tsk) are coming from the Lyft and Uber side of it.

Still, I think if Uber and Lyft charged the same as the licensed cabs, they’d lose their competitive edge. Not that cabbies are living in mansions — — but scab labor is typically grouped at the bottom of the pyramid.

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