Tag: uber

A Wikileaks for Everything?

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

The entrepreneurs among us tend to really like Uber. Those that want to revolutionize an aspect of the everyday lives of Americans want to “Uberize” one thing or another. Airbnb became the Uber for hotels. Some have created “Ubers” for anything from dog walking to alcohol delivery (even police, but that’s another future article). All we want to do is make the on-demand version of an aspect of daily life. And it is improving the quality of life in developed countries.

Continue reading “A Wikileaks for Everything?”

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Santa Monica Could Soon Ban Bird and Lime E-Scooters

By Kaycee Ikeonu | United States

Bird and Lime, two popular e-scooter ride-sharing companies in Santa Monica, could be banned in the city, depending on the outcome of a meeting that will occur this Tuesday at 5:00 PM, local time. The decision arose after a small committee decided to give the e-scooter market share to two car-based corporations, Uber and Lyft.

The Bird team compared the decision to “giving Exxon and BP Oil a monopoly on Solar power”. Basically, this means that these two car-based corporations are simply not as efficient, sustainable or popular as Bird. Moreover, neither Uber nor Lyft have any experience in the e-scooter business, which is another reason both e-scooter companies find the possible decision appalling.   

The proposed decision has not been popular amongst Bird and Lime users. There have been various protests all over west L.A. against the decision. Lime, for example, emailed its customers, asking them to go outside City Hall right before the meeting to protest the possible ban. Bird, as well, has started various petitions, which could potentially influence the decision.

This isn’t the first time that the companies have faced threats. Bird and Lime have both been bombarded with safety concerns. Critics say that most riders ride recklessly: that most of them don’t wear helmets, they ride on the sidewalks and ride double, even though the e-scooters are meant for one. There have also been various reports of near-accidents or legitimate accidents like the one described here.

Bird and Lime e-scooters as of today, August 14th, have been disabled. They might never be turned on again, depending on the outcome of the meeting.

So who do you support, the vote of the consumers, or the bureaucracy of this small committee?

To let the city of Santa Monica know what you think, please click here.


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NYC Passes Legislation to Limit Services of Uber, Lyft

By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

This Wednesday, the City Council of New York voted in favor of putting a cap on private companies that provide ride shares throughout the city.

The demand for these services in the public eye has grown exponentially recently. Lyft, for example, formed in 2012. Its alternative in the market, Uber, first operated in 2009. These companies have since gained a lot of traction, with just around 100,000 ride-sharing vehicles in the City, not counting the 20,000 yellow cabs. Each ride share company gives 10,000 rides per day to settle the high demand of people in the city. The number is only likely to grow. So, citizens are concerned that the government is passing this limiting bill.

The legislation itself calls for the restriction of access to get a licence for legitimate service with the major companies involved. Though the city has had taxi-cabs for as long as it has been the epicenter of the world economy, the implementation of private companies into this sector of the economy has caused a never-before-seen boom in the market. The city will, effective immediately, halt the option to obtain these licences for 12 months while they “research the… industry”. The council is said to have voted it down because of reduced revenue for public taxis. Uber and Lyft are also reportedly a net loss for the state department.

In addition, the city will provide a higher minimum wage to the employees of ride share companies Lyft, Uber, Via, and Juno. This minimum wage for the service will be $17.22, come the implementation of this bill. If the drivers do not earn this, the company will have to make up the difference. This is a plan to drive out the private ride share services and bring income back to the state.

Economists forecast that the rides, as a result, will grow more costly and harder to obtain. Uber and Lyft have already made public statements saying that their services will go nowhere, just slow down. Despite the multi-million dollar ad campaigns by the biggest companies in the industry, lawmakers still went through with the passage of this law.

“The city’s 12-month pause on new vehicle licenses will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion,” -Spokesperson for Uber, NYC

Although multiple private companies have stepped into the picture to provide a better, more easily accessible, and affordable solution to a crisis in the city, the government has yet again intervened to slow down production to the economy. NYC is the first major city of the country to do so in this sector. Will other cities be soon to follow? How far will government go to cripple the action of ride sharing companies?


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It’s 2018. Why are so many American People Starving?

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In the modern era, it is difficult to deny that Americans live in a culture of waste. In fact, people do not actually eat most of the food Americans grow. Out of all of the crops that American farmers produce, humans only use a mere 27% for their food. What’s more is the fact that of that 27%, Americans throw away 40% of it.

Wasted Food, but People Starving

So, running the numbers, what does that look like? Combining those two statistics gives a grand total of 16.2%. In other words, we have, without any technological improvements at all, the capability to feed a great deal of people – far more than we do today. Of course, we currently use the rest for bio-fuels such as ethanol, and for feed for farm animals, such as cattle. And, to recall, about 11%, or one ninth, we throw away.

It is inevitable that people will waste some food, and that we will give some of it to animals. Despite this, it also is evident that there are people starving and things society can do about it. As mentioned above, nearly 15% of Americans face a form of food insecurity. Though not all of those with food insecurity are starving, it frankly is trivial. A free society should not tolerate any levels of food insecurity, especially when a portion of those people are truly starving.

Eliminating Waste

Though the sheer number of people starving is an abhorrent statistic, it is not one without a number of identifiable causes and solutions. One of the first, without a doubt, is eliminating waste. If Americans reduced their food waste by only 15%, there would be enough food saved to feed an additional 25 million people.

By splitting this in two, the food could feed 50 million people half of their daily nutritional needs. This would serve as a very useful supplement to those who cannot afford all of the food they need. In fact, it would be enough to give half of the daily food requirements to every American who struggles to put food on the table, plus an extra million. There does not have to be any number of people starving. Those with adequate (and 40% extra) need to be more conscientious.

15% is not a difficult figure to reach. For all of this talk about cutting wasteful spending, why not start in the most important place? Americans could spend 40% less on food, or even better, donate the 40% they aren’t going to eat to a food pantry. In either situation, with just 15% compliance, America could see massive reductions in, if not elimination of, hunger. It isn’t that hard. Someone’s health, or even someone’s life, may depend on it. Make the right decision, America.

The Great McMyth

The prevalence of fast food over supermarket food in lower income communities also perpetuates hunger. Fast food restaurants have a reputation for being cheap meal options, but in reality, this is only true when comparing it to other full service restaurants. In comparison to real food options, fast food is horribly expensive. A McDonald’s Dollar Menu, for example, claims to be a highly affordable way of eating. However, it actually offers nothing for more than 390 calories. So, to satsify the caloric needs of an adult, (2000 and 2500), one would need to spend $5 or $6 a day. This would also entail eating nothing but McDoubles, which obviously is not a healthy way to eat.

Does this sound cheap? Perhaps upon first look, sure, but not on further examination. A family of four would need to spend around $22 a day, or $660 a month, to eat absolutely nothing but the cheapest fast food option available. Multiplying this number by twelve leads to an annual food budget, at the absolute bare minimum (and likely much higher, with fast food choices only) of $7920. Yes, that’s right. A little bit under $8000 a year, which is almost a third of the federal poverty line ($25,100 for a family of four). Families living well below the poverty line may be surrendering half of their income to fast food.

A Better Way

Hope, though, is not lost, for supermarket foods are considerably more affordable, especially for the poor. Looking at some basic staple foods, it appears that each dollar can stretch to many more calories. At a local WalMart, a 16 ounce container of Jif brand peanut butter costs $2.50. That jar contains 14 servings of 190 calories each, for a total of 2,660. All natural, non-GMO wheat bread sells for $1.47 per loaf, and has 1,650 calories. The same store offers five pounds of whole wheat pasta for a mere $7.40. At 8,450 calories, this box, cooked alfredo-style with grated cheese and butter, which also are very cheap, speaking in terms of calorie per dollar, could feed the entire family for dinner for several nights.

Deserts, with One “S”

Though the double “s” counterpart is far more attractive, food deserts are sadly a major issue in America today. A food desert is an area in which people, usually low income, do not have access to affordable, healthy food. Specifically, it means that a large number of low income people live at least 1 mile from a grocery store or supermarket. In rural areas, the area expands to 10 miles.

Currently, 23.5% of Americans live in a food desert. Many of the poor do not have any means of getting beyond this radius to buy the right foods. Instead, they are nearly forced by situation to go to one of many available fast food options, which means that there are people starving that are going to be spending a lot more than they have in order to get back a lot less than they need.

Thankfully, things are looking up for those in food deserts in recent years. In Boston, for example, a food market bus is now serving healthy food to those in food deserts. Moreover, Geisinger, a private healthcare company, provides food to diabetics in food deserts, claiming that the proper food is a type of essential medicine for those with unstable blood sugar. Uber and Lyft also now provide more affordable ways of getting to grocery stores for those without a vehicle.

The Fight Begins with the Individual

However, despite recent improvements, the fight is not over until there are no more people starving. As with many critical issues, one person can truly make a difference.

By spreading this message, by aiding those in food deserts, by donating food, rather than wasting, each of us can make a noticeable change in the world. It’s time to do the right thing for those with little.


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Facts, Gun Violence, Walkouts and Feelings

Isaiah Minter | United States

As millions of Americans across the country prepare for the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24th, I expect the event to be little more than mass virtue signaling masquerading as youth activism. The truth is, millions of individuals carrying colorful signs and slandering those who agree with them does not make gun control good policy. Rather, it shows the foundation of gun control argumentation: emotion. Not facts, but feelings. And when discussing an issue as serious as the safety of our children, this approach does absolutely more harm than good.

If we are serious about improving the safety of our children and reducing gun violence, it is imperative that we pursue truth and evidence, not emotions and foolishness.

Therefore, I hope that this piece, in addressing common myths on the matter, functions as a resource for all Americans to understand the good intentions behind gun control are no substitute for its inability to yield positive results.

All in all, the American people have a right to facts. So here they are.

No, there have not been 18 school shootings this year.

When we think of school shootings, we usually think of students and teachers being killed by a shooter. We picture Columbine, Newtown, and Parkland, not a simple firearm being discharged on school grounds. By rejecting the sensationalized media view of the definition of school shooting, this statistic clearly is fake news.

America does not have a mass shooting problem.

Despite all the media hysteria, America isn’t even in the top ten of countries with the greatest frequency of mass public shootings and the annual death rate from them.

From 2009 to 2015, there were roughly 25% more per capita casualties from mass public shootings throughout Europe than the US.

Moreover, one study done in early 2017 found that all of the worst public mass shootings since 1970 have occurred outside the US. Of the worst 44, 40 have occurred outside the US and of the worst 67, 59 have occurred outside the US. Looking at the US specifically, from 1982 to early 2018 there were 98 mass shootings that resulted in 816 total deaths, or 23 deaths a year. While there has been a slight uptake in the frequency of mass public shootings, mass shootings account for just 12% of mass killings, which account for less than 1% of annual homicides.

Even when looking at homicide rates between US states and the rest of the world, America is not a haven of unimaginable violence.

In comparison to the rest of the world, the US does not stand out. There are clearly some state outliers, mainly Washington D.C., but keep in mind that the nation’s capital has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

We can all agree that homicides and mass public shootings are tragic, but the notion that a country ranked 28th in international homicide has a gun crime epidemic that can only be solved by swift gun confiscation is clearly false.

More guns do not equal more crime.

Because guns are killing machines, more guns mean more crime. Unfortunately, the claim runs contrary to the evidence.

The plain fact is, gun crime, and violent crime, in general, has been falling for decades in America despite increases in gun ownership of roughly 10 million per year. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics:

“U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.”

Even if we compare rates of gun ownership and homicide state by state, the claim is not supported by data. Moreover, with respect to homicide and firearm ownership rates outside the US, a positive correlation remains to be seen.

In the event that a country, we’ll call it Nation A, has a high gun ownership rate and a high level of crime,  it does not logically follow the high level of crime must, or even can, be explained by the high level of gun ownership. It may even be the case that the level of high crime exists in spite of the high level of gun ownership.

For instance, the nine European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate three times that of the nine European nations with the highest gun ownership rate. It may very well be the case that firearm ownership explains very little of the disparity in murder between the two groups.

In any event, because crime is influenced by many factors independent of firearm ownership levels, the gun control side remains unfazed by hard evidence. For if they had any concern for the evidence, they would find that gun control has saved more egos in the last month than it has human lives in the last century.

Guns save lives.

As gun control pundits lament over the lives taken by guns, they ignore the massive disparity between the lives taken by firearms and the lives saved by them.

In 2016, some 16,459 murders were committed, with roughly 11,961 of them committed by firearms. Now, based on a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, US citizens use guns in defense over 989,883 times a year.

If in one year, 11,961 people were killed by guns – we’ll round up to 12,000 – and 989,883 people had their lives saved by guns – we’ll round up to 990,000 – that means  each year in the United States firearms are used to save lives at least 80 times more often than they are used to take them.

The CDC offers a lower figure, finding that Americans use guns in defense of the home roughly 500,000 times a year.

Ultimately, estimates of defensive gun usage range from 500,000 cases a year to 3 million. In any case, guns are used significantly more often to defend a life than to take one.

Years after Columbine, the state of Colorado passed the 2003 Concealed Carry Act, allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms. According to the CATO Institute, this law helped halt a massacre in December 2007 when an attacker who opened fire in the New Life Mega Church was shot by a volunteer security guard with a concealed handgun.

Elsewhere, three school shootings were thwarted by adults with firearms. In 2015, a 62-year-old man who had fired at several people was shot and wounded by an armed civilian. In the same year, an Uber driver shot a gunman who had opened fire in Logan Square. On the whole, armed citizens kill roughly twice as many criminals as police do, but one would never know this from the media.

The NRA does not bribe politicians.

When it comes to campaign contributions and lobbying, the NRA is not that influential. In 2012, the top 20 lobbying spenders were as follows:

  • US Chamber of Commerce: $136,300,000
  • National Assn of Realtors: $41,464,580
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $22,569,532
  • American Hospital Assn: $20,123,200
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America: $19,260,000
  • General Electric: $18,970,000
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: $18,890,000
  • Google Inc: $18,220,000
  • Northrop Grumman: $17,540,000
  • AT&T Inc: $17,460,000
  • American Medical Assn: $16,505,000
  • Boeing Co: $15,640,000
  • Southern Co: $15,580,000
  • Lockheed Martin: $15,347,350
  • Verizon Communications: $15,020,000
  • Comcast Corp: $14,750,000
  • National Assn of Broadcasters: $14,510,000
  • Royal Dutch Shell: $14,480,000
  • United Technologies: $14,454,750
  • Business Roundtable: $13,890,000

*The NRA spent $2,980,000 in comparison*

The truth is, the NRA is not some sort of lobbying terrorist organization. In 2016, the organization spent just $1.1 million, ranking them 488th in campaign contributions for groups spending more than $1 million. In the same election cycle, the Republican party spent $638 million, or 580 times what the NRA contributed.

Since 2000, the NRA has spent $203 million in campaign contributions. While it is true they do give a lot of money to politicians, the NRA exerts more pressure on the political process by motivating their base, sending voter guides to their members in support of favored candidates. Moreover, they spend more money on independent expenditures than campaign contributions.

Contrary to what the media is pedaling, the gun lobby is not a greedy organization that condones the senseless murder of children. Rather, it is a genuine grass root group in Washington composed of millions of law-abiding citizens that value gun rights.

Me funding you because you support a position – what the NRA does – is not the same as me paying you to support a position. The latter is bribery. 

International gun control did not work.

Britain, Australia, Mexico, all the international cases of gun control that liberal pundits love to use are not as successful as they are made out to be.

In Australia, the firearm homicide rate was declining years before the gun buyback program in 1996. In the 7-years before and after the buyback, the homicide rate declined at the same rate. 3 years after the gun ban, armed robberies and firearm-related murders had increased by 69% and 19% respectively. Additionally, a decade-long study concluded that the gun measures taken by Australia had no effect on crime rates.

In 2000, 3 years after the gun ban in Britain, crime rates had drastically increased: sexual assault by 112%, assault by 130%, and armed robbery by 170%. Half of the areas with the lowest number of legal firearms had a gun crime rate above average, compared to just 10% of the areas with the highest number of legal firearms.

Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and yet in 2012, the country’s gun homicide rate per 100,000 people was over three times higher than the US. All of this comes in spite of the fact that Mexico has one legal gun store, compared to nearly 65,000 n the US.

Gun crime was declining in Australia before the gun buyback; crime in Britain has risen since the ban, and Mexico remains a country stricken by violence despite the gun control.

American gun control did not work.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban didn’t lower crime. California’s strict gun-control laws failed to prevent San Bernardino. Connecticut gun control legislation since Sandy Hook has proved ineffective. Gun control failed in Chicago, it failed in Washington D.C., The Orlando nightclub Pulse was a gun free zone, as were Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland.

For all the talk on the dire need for tighter gun laws, more signs and tears are offered than cases of hard evidence supporting gun control. And the reason why is clear: American gun control did not do what it was intended to do.

Image Source Matt Baldry