The Volokh Conspiracy

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I Can No Longer Rely On Uber

Uber is no longer a viable product for me.

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Prior to the pandemic, I more-or-less stopped driving, and relied entirely on Uber. I would Uber to and from work. I would Uber to and from the airport. When I was visiting a mid-size or large city, I would not rent a car, but instead use Uber. I spent an obscene amount of money on Uber every month, but deemed the expenditure worthwhile. I was able to recover hours each week that I could use to work.

During the pandemic, my Uber usage sharply crashed to zero. I still used Uber Eats for food delivery, so I was actually able to maintain my Diamond status. But I didn't set foot in a rideshare vehicle until the Summer of 2021. Still, my usage was light because I didn't really have anywhere to go.

More recently, I've re-emerged into a post-pandemic world. Yet, I've found Uber increasingly unreliable. Consistently, I am not able to find rides, and when I can, the fares are surged. For example, in the past, I would spend about $35 for a trip to the airport during rush hour, and would wait about 5 minutes. This morning, Uber told me the fare to the airport would be about $150! And there was an estimated wait time of 17 minutes! Who knows if a driver would ever show up. I decided to drive myself to the airport. A few weeks ago I was in Dallas. I had easily secured an Uber from DFW to my hotel around 10:00 p.m. But the following morning, I needed an Uber to take me about 3 miles to a restaurant for breakfast. The fare was about $80, and it took nearly 15 minutes to get a ride!

Uber is no longer a viable product for me. I cannot rely on it. Perhaps the Uber business model was never sustainable. Maybe the pandemic, combined with spiking fuel prices, accelerated the demise of rideshare. Who knows. But going forward, I will go back to driving myself and renting cars.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: April 12, 1945

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  1. You spent $80, plus tip, plus the cost of the food, plus tip again, for breakfast. Hmm.

    I'll bet there was a Dennys that you could have walked to.

    1. Yup.

      1. From the photos, you can afford to skip breakfast once in a while.
      2. Even if you can't, you can cook it at home.
      3. If it's a breakfast meeting, use the phone or Zoom. It's not like you haven't had any practice.

      But yeah, my heart bleeds for you.

      PS - I know you're a Trumpy sort of guy, so maybe it's a feature rather than a bug, but rich lawyers whining about spending $80 on a ride to breakfast is exactly how you get more Trump.

      1. Low employment was the Trump economy. Inflation is the Biden economy.

        1. One should divide the cost of a car by 100000 miles to be driven. Add the daily cost of insurance, and of maintenance and repairs, and of gasoline by the mileage, $20 a day for a parking spot. Add the cost of highway hypnosis on fatigue upon arrival and on totally impaired function because of sleepiness. The function of a sleepy person is as impaired as that of a legally drunk one. A typical car per mile cost is way over stupid.

          Why is a young, savvy guy still traveling at all? It is maddeningly idiotic to do so, dangerous, costly, wasteful of resources, ecologically criminal. Video conference from now on.

          All Zoom meetings are recorded on a server in China. Use another platform, preferably one encrypted end to end, like Whatsapp.

          1. I'm going to buy stock in oil companies and deliberately throw out recyclables just for you, Trollio.

            Maybe let my giant pickup truck idle a lot.

            1. Always buy evil. You would have done well when gasoline cost a negative amount. You would have done well buying rubles. But you would have done on the internet, from your idling truck, not driving anywhere. Just, please, avoid being on the internet while driving.

            2. I am going to celebrate your replacement, Sigivald, by your betters.

          2. Next time the accounting and IT departments sell something over zoom, I'll listen to how great it is. Until then, Zoom goes in the same pile as "meetings that could have been an email."

        2. Low unemployment was handed to DT on a silver platter.

      2. What an obnoxious little jerk you are.

        1. The voters know this self evident fact.

          1. That was directed to Lee Moore, not you.

            1. Race is easier to change than weight. Fat shaming is pretty offensive, I agree.

              1. I may be old fashioned, by my view is that it is none of anyone's business, other than one's spouse and doctor.

      3. "Even if you can't, you can cook it at home."

        He was at a hotel, doofus.

        1. Next time, he should stay at a hotel that serves breakfast.

          1. Even the cheapest hotels have a continental breakfast.

            Though if you actually go have a continental breakfast on the continent, it usually has deli meats and cheeses and breads and buns of all types and little tins of Nutella.

        2. So? Can't he just light the bed cover and roast a couple of eggs and some toast?

      4. Remind me (if I'm ever in legal trouble), not to hire Lee Moore. What a POS.

      5. I don't know what his financial position is, but there aren't a ton of law professors I would normally call "rich lawyers."

    2. The salaries for professors must be out of control.

      1. Nah, this has expense account written all over it.

        1. "$80 for a three minute ride! I can't approve that!"

    3. Just yesterday, we were in London and needed to leave for Heathrow at 4am. We had reserved an Uber earlier in the day, and come 4sm, little car icons flickered around the map on the app, saying the wait was a variously few minutes, and then they cancelled saying no driver was available. Fortunately, the hotel was able to summon us a black cab in no time. (With a driver whose driving and stories terrified my wife.)

      1. I've tried Uber and Lyft a few times (the idea of a competitor to taxis good), but they are incredibly unreliable from my experience.

    4. Intermittent fasting.

      I eat one meal a day. It's amazing not only how it improves your energy levels, helps maintain your weight, saves money, and even makes food taste better because you've got a good appetite when you finally sit down to eat.

      And you don't have to worry about spending 100$ for breakfast at Denny's.

      1. However, you apparently should worry about putting the $ in the right place when you save that $100

      2. Works great if you're not travelling.

        If you ARE travelling....that Breakfast really often acts as a lunch as well, rather than whatever you do (or don't) get on the aircraft.

        1. Well I just got back from 4 1/2 months overseas, maybe had breakfast 10 times in that span. But everyone's metabolism is different. But for me, as long as I have coffee I'm fine. I prefer black coffee if it's good, but often a latte is better, because it's hard to find a good filter or French press coffee in the Balkans Turkey or Cambodia where I was traveling.

      3. At what time do you eat?

        1. About 6ish, although often later in the summer when there is still a lot of daylight left.

    5. $80 each way, presumably.

      Plus tip

  2. I have noticed a driver shortage recently. I had a grub hub order canceled for the first time because they simply couldn't get a driver to pick the food up.

    It will be in testing to see if this is a long term thing, or if it will even out as people start going back into offices.

    1. I suspect that some of this is tax driven. My young son gleefully quit his fast-food job last year in favor of becoming a DoorDash driver. Then a month ago he filed his taxes and discovered how little real money he'd been making. It was a rude shock.

      That doesn't explain the drop-off in Uber drivers overseas but I do think there's a correlation between the drop-off in the US and the timing of our tax work.

      1. There's been a shortage of drivers (just like all sorts of other workers) for at least a year. If you think it has something to do with tax season, it's just you confirming your own biases.

        1. Agree with JB here. Hiring has been tough.

          That being said, Uber has always been a fringe-type job. If there are better options out there (and there are these days) most people will take them.

      2. You'd think his pay vs. his fuel would have tipped him off long before - and that's not including depreciation on his vehicle.

        Uber driving might make sense as a downtime recreational pocket-money thing, but it's a terrible *job*.

  3. Beyond fuel prices and sit-at-home subsidies, let's not forget Uber's silent mask-tattling system that uses the specter of insta-banning to force both drivers and passengers to comply even when nobody in the car cares -- basically the Abilene Paradox at gunpoint.

    Enforcement mechanism aside, when in most cities masks are now required in absolutely no other day-to-day circumstance, how many people are going to carry one around (or even think to carry one around) just to be able to catch an occasional Uber?

    1. Don't assume everyone is like you - lots of people carry a mask in case you need it for stuff like this. I use uber about once a week and never really had an issue.
      Same with public transportation, which still requires masking.

      This is nothing more sinister than the shirt/shoes service unless you're one of the 'face diaper' nutters.

      1. Burned ours a year and a half ago. Won't patronize any business that requires one, Won't use any service that does. I will not subsidize anyone who tries to keep this going. Do not normalize this.

        1. I don't see why you care so much, but you do you.

          1. Stupid people often care excessively

            1. Why is he stupid?

              1. I don't know why he is (or if he is) stupid, but stupidity would explain his choice to live in the desolate backwaters and be a disaffected, obsolete, virus-flouting right-winger.

              2. Because the benefits for proper use are clear when one is in confined spaces.

          2. "It's only a prayer during school. No big deal" right?

          3. Do you care about long term socialization trends with children?

        2. I hate masking too, but I'm not going to give up traveling just because I'm sick of masks.

          But it is kind of funny when you're flying to or from someplace that's given up the mask charade. About 2 weeks ago coming back to the US I had to change planes in Zurich, had to mask up on the plane going there, getting off the plane only about 10% of people are masked in the airport, then I spent about 2 hours unmasked in the airport, then at the gate boarding again they ask you to put your mask on when they scan your boarding pass.

          I also didn't need to get covid tested, in practice, but not technically, all he way from Phnom Penh to Singapore to Istanbul to Athens to Belgrade to Montenegro, back to Belgrade until I boarded my flight back to the US.

          1. It's pretty much Kabuki theatre. To a large extent, it always has been.

            1. Pairs well with security theater.

        3. Why would you burn your shirt and shoes?

      2. Don't assume everyone is a compliant slave like you

    2. I had never heard of the Albilene Paradox; thanks for the reference.

    3. Not quite no other circumstances. They are also still required on public transport by federal mandate (though a challenge by 19 states is now awaiting trial and expected to win).

      1. Right, and in most medical facilities as well. That's why I said day-to-day.

        1. Which is quite depressing given that these facilities should be governed by science and not "THE SCIENCE!!!"

          Cannot figure out why the medical profession has shat the bed involving its credibility over the last 2 years.

          1. Medical facilities are the one place where I think it is tolerable. Sick people congregate there. My sneeze could seriously harm someone.
            In a regular store, or bus or train, not so much.

          2. When did half the country forget that masks have been in widespread use in medical contexts for over a hundred years before anyone had heard of Covid?

    4. Face masks are like condoms: they're everywhere if you really want one and most likely you can find one for free; the need for one is often forseeable and easily planned for.

  4. There currently seems to be a labor shortage everywhere else you look. It doesn't surprise me that this includes ride sharing.

    1. 3.7% unemployment tells us the “labor shortage” is directly attributable to Big Baby choking off immigration. When you block a couple hundred thousand workers from entering, you run into labor shortages.

      1. That is correct. Trump had all Democrat constituents busting records of prosperity from his immigration ban. Immigration is a way for our billionaire oligarchs to suppress wages, and to enrich themselves even more.

      2. God forbid labor got in short enough supply that wages would start climbing. Can't have that, immigration has to be managed so as to keep income inequality high by flooding the labor market.

        1. Imagine a world where women were to stay home and actually raise their own children rather than outsourcing it to people that they often disagree with on fundamental levels about ideology.

          Feminism was used as a tool of the global elite to flood the labor market as well.

          1. Feminism says women can do what they want. So can men.

            Either can stay home and raise their own children if they want to.

            Freedom of choice of one's social role is not a globalist conspiracy.

            1. Typical motte and bailey feminist white knight stuff here, to say it's about "equality" and "freedom of choice" (as if those things didn't exist before 2nd wave feminism) as if there are no other motivations behind the movement.

              The end result, though, of increasing the labor force by about 50% has been the creation of the two income trap that many middle class families fall prey too.

              1. It's not motte and baily to not buy into your 'feminism is a globalist plot to flood the labor market.'

                You invoke fallacies like a cargo cultist who has no idea what they actually mean.

                It's telling you think it's the woman who has to stay home. And that a couple having kids is the only lifestyle that matters.

                If the two income trap is your issue, then you should look hard at capitalism and what it has to say about more money and more productivity if you can swing it.

                1. "It's telling you think it's the woman who has to stay home."

                  "telling' = more mind reading

                  He's just reflecting reality. 95%+ of the time its mothers who stay home with the kids if the want and can.

                  1. And feminism is about rich women anyway. How many women do you think want to drop their kids off so they can go work at Taco Bell?

                  2. He wasn’t being descriptive, Bob. It’s not mind reading, it’s just reading.

        2. God forbid labor got in short enough supply that wages would start climbing.

          Then you would complain about inflation.

          1. Inflation is always and everywhere a MONETARY phenomena . - Milton Freedom (emphasis added)

            1. There is more debate about that than you think.

              1. Of course, but very little of it involves the level of illegal aliens in the country, and most of it involves the money supply.

                1. A lot of it does involve the money supply, and you are right that immigration, legal or otherwise, has little to do with it.

              2. "There is more debate about that than you think."

                Second half of that quote is "it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output."

                We are getting a brutal lesson right now that its true.

          2. Inflation is a general increase in prices of everything denominated in a currency due to the fact that the currency they're denominated in is losing value itself. A change in prices in one sector for identifiable reasons isn't "inflation", even if it has diminishing effects in other sectors.

            For instance, while we're currently suffering a lot of inflation, (8.5% at latest report, good thing it's transitory.) the huge leap in fuel prices is mostly not inflation, but due to identifiable (And deliberately induced.) supply shortages.

            So, if you slammed the brakes on illegal immigration and wages went up as the supply shortage kicked in, this would NOT be "inflation", though to the people buying labor, and not benefiting from the increased wages, it would still suck.

            1. Brett,

              Inflation is a general increase in prices of everything denominated in a currency due to the fact that the currency they're denominated in is losing value itself.

              Inflation is general increase in prices, true. But it by no means has to be an increase in all prices. It's an increase in the average price level.

              And it's not caused by the currency losing value - I smell gold-bug - but is rather a measure of the process.

              You need to find better economics sources than whatever you are reading.

              1. If there's an average increase in prices, how is that NOT a decrease in the value of the currency? What are you valuing the currency in besides what it can be traded for? Sounds like you're the gold bug, or some kind of bug.

                1. Not my area of expertise, but isn't currency value an international metric, while buying power is domestic?
                  Obviously one influences the other, but they don't seem identical at all.

                  1. For even a week or two, have any of you been in a country in which the inflation rate was >50%? You see that while the currency value and the purchasing power are not identical they are very strongly correlated.

                    1. I haven't, but this tracks in that edge case - even if inflation is only one component in exchange rates, it'd dominate when it gets crazy.

                      But in the case where inflation is worldwide, as is the case right now, I'd expect the correlation to not be as strong.

                  2. "Currency value" is not a well-defined term.

                    Currencies fluctuate against each other constantly, of course, but they don't always, or generally, reflect relative purchasing power. That's one reason comparing GDP across countries is less than an exact process.

                    1. And yet the IMF and World Bank have to do that all the time as part of their mission/business

                    2. Yes. They do.

                      And guess what? It's a hard problem, not amenable to a Bellmorean simple answer.

                2. Read more carefully.

                  I didn't say it wasn't a decrease in the value of the currency. Of course it is.

                  What I said was that it is not, contrary to your statement, an increase in the price of everything. It's an increase in the average price level.

                  You also wrote, "A change in prices in one sector for identifiable reasons isn't "inflation", even if it has diminishing effects in other sectors." This is nonsense. Of course it's inflation if other prices don't fall. Prices fluctuate, inflation or not.

                  Also, I think it's backwards to say that inflation is due to the currency losing value. "Currency losing value" is not a cause of inflation. It is inflation.

        3. That is my annoyance, Brett. We should allow the market to set prices and wages...but when wages start to go up, it is time to short circuit the market by permitting massive influxes of new labor.

          A lot of libertarians don't think highly of market fundamentals if they do not work in the way they approve.

          1. That's not short circuiting the market. Labor restrictions are short circuiting the market. It's no different than government-imposed constraints on the supply of any other input.

      3. Trump was adept at chocking off illegal aliens entering the country....not legal immigration. Not that such a distinction matters to the left.

        1. It doesn't matter to employers either.

          1. Sadly, yes, because both sides are in on it.

            1. It also doesn't matter the the unemployment rate.

              I'm not someone who thinks illegal immigration shouldn't be controlled, but demonizing them in this context is pretty silly.

              1. Spare me the crocodile tears about illegal aliens being controlled.

                And yes, the illegal aliens do indeed affect the unemployment rate. You can't increase the supply without consequence. They take low paying low skill jobs, the kind that teenagers and such used to take, to get onto the lowest rung of the ladder.

                1. Our unemployment rate is too low; that's the problem right now.

                  Your broken record lump of labor fallacy is especially irrelevant right now.

                  1. The unemployment rate is low for a variety of reasons, and it's a problem amongst many problems, though it is particularly a small problem if we must rank order problems.

                    Nice handwavey dismissal of the economic data that is difficult to square with your worldview though.

                    1. You brought up illegal immigration's effect on the unemployment rate. Which is not good economics, and also rather off point to the post you applied to, which noted the really low unemployment rate.

                      And now you're angry at me for not forgetting about the OP and not going along with your bad economics.

                      No, I'm not going to indulge your unsupported nativism. That's not a handwavy dismissal, it's you not backing up your position at all.

                    2. "particularly a small problem if we must rank order problems"

                      Exactly. Do people prefer high unemployment?

                      Wages are rising to remedy the problem but thanks to the policies of Sarcasto's preferred politicians, "transitory" inflation is leading to negative wage growth.

                  2. "Our unemployment rate is too low; that's the problem right now. "

                    Full employment used to be a liberal agenda item.

                    1. Don't be daft - full employment does not mean 0% unemployment.

                      When I took macroeconomics, 5% was considered the structural minimum.

                      Being below that was going to cause friction, my prof said. And whaddya know, maybe macroecnomics is predictive every once in a while!

                    2. "When I took macroeconomics, 5% was considered the structural minimum."

                      This is a statement without any facts backing it up. Based on past history, an accurate cite or link is needed before this assertion can be believed.

                    3. Fuck off, AL. I was quite clearly not making a normative statement.

                    4. Another unsupported post from Sarcastro...

                  3. "Our unemployment rate is too low; that's the problem right now."

                    Wtf? Demand is too high.

          2. That depends on the employer.

          1. Imagine that, a president that put Americans first. Difficult, I know. But it did happen in both of our lifetimes. Be sure to tell your grandchilden when they ask what happened.

            And after all the posts on this blog about the asylum system being abused, one could easily come to the conclusion that it is just another avenue for illegal aliens to come here and claim asylum without having done so in the intermediate countries. It's almost like they are economic migrants, not refugees.

            1. Trump was adept at chocking off illegal aliens entering the country....not legal immigration

              a president that put Americans first.

              No new goalposts. And the nativist idea that immigration doesn't help the Americans already here is bigoted nonsense.

              1. NToJ had a great post on this:
                https://reason.com/volokh/2020/06/09/the-oft-noted-hollowing-out-of-the-middle-class-is-a-metropolitan-phenomenon/?comments=true#comment-8294886

                I want to be very clear about this, because I feel like we've had this conversation before.

                I don't know most American citizens and feel no special connection to them apart from the fact we happened to be born in the same country. I am particularly disinterested in what wages they voluntarily agree to accept for any labor. I don't view voluntary relationships between people who pay wages and people who accept the work in exchange for the wages to be a form of wage slavery, and I don't think there is a "higher wage", or any wage, that American citizens (or anyone else for that matter) is entitled to. I have never professed to know the value of another human's time, for them or on their their behalf, as that calculation is best left to those other people. I have no special animosity (or affinity) for "foreign strangers" relative to "American citizens". I care about the content of peoples' characters, not where they were fucking born, which is not and has never been of any moment to me. None of which is to say that I'm an open-borders advocate. I recognize the need for borders. But my interest in borders has absolutely nothing to do with securing "higher wages for American citizens" since I don't think there is a specific wage that American citizens are entitled to for any work. Even if I did think that American citizens were entitled to a minimum wage for work, I would never pretend to have the expertise, omniscience, and judgment to make that decision for every employer and employee in any given jurisdiction. I do not think fair wages (however defined) is a problem that can be solved with central planning. I am a robust capitalist who thinks the only answer comes from allowing people the freedom to decide what their own time or money is worth in voluntary transactions unimpeded by (possibly well-meaning) morons in government.

                Moreover, even if I thought that American citizens were entitled to higher wages, I would never try and effect that change indirectly through spending on border enforcement, since the transaction costs alone would make the entire endeavor useless. There are much more immediate means to guarantee whatever fair wage you think American citizens are entitled to, without spending rivers of money on a separate problem that is only tangentially related.

                Do you support a minimum wage at all? If so, do you support raising it? If not, how would you expect me to take seriously your call for "higher wages for American citizens"? If you were me, how would you interpret your preference for an indirect "solution" (border enforcement) to increasing American citizen wages, over a much more direct "solution" (government mandated higher wages)? My uncharitable assumption would be that you just don't like Mexicans. Charitably I think it's probably more likely that you're just a run-of-the-mill culture warrior, that you sincerely (although mistakenly) believe America would be better off if we more strictly limited the free movement of labor, and that you're only opportunistically and cynically invoking wage competition to support your policy preferences because you think it will make you sound caring and persuasive to people who don't like competing over wages (which is virtually everybody).

                Let me close with this. If there is something that a Chinese person will do for less than an American, and the person paying for that something would prefer to hire the Chinese person over the American, the total social utility of the world is increased if the person paying gets to hire the Chinese person rather than the American. My social utility calculator does not factor in country of birth. If free trade takes 500 million Chinese peasants living in 18th century conditions out of abject poverty in exchange for labor that others voluntarily want to pay, but causes 15 million Americans to only be able to afford two televisions rather than three, that isn't a close question. And it doesn't get closer (or easier) if you swap "Chinese" and "American" or replace either with any other nationality designation. Save for one important point. I do have a special affinity for America because as a nation it has policies and is place that I want to live in, and I'd like to preserve those things that make it worth living in. A subset of those policies are (1) the belief that people should be free generally to do what they want without harming others; and (2) the general promotion of competition within a marketplace is the most efficient way to distribute finite resources and improve total social utility for everybody. How about you?

                1. That's a sad rant, hardly a "great post".

                  He likes America, just hates Americans.

                  1. The entire post is about how immigration helps Americans.

                    You don’t seem to have read it very carefully.

                    You’re becoming just a tired troll these days, going door to door to shock people.

              2. What's funny, is that you yourself created a new goalpost by saying Trump reduced legal immigration as well as illegal, which I simply noted put Americans first (they are the citizens after all, and immigrants are not) and you accuse me of creating a new goalpost.

                That's a low, a real low.

                1. I don't get your accusation. I put your quotes in the comment. You were flat wrong. That's the new goalpost.
                  Shawn called you on it as well.

                  And when called on it, you went 'America first!' Which...You suck.

                  1. Of course you don't get the accusation....introspection and the empathetic ability to recognize hypocrisy is a trait that psychologists note is low in those with a liberal disposition.

                    1. Yeah, I'm the one with no empathy, says the guy yelling America First.

              3. "And the nativist idea that immigration doesn't help the Americans already here is bigoted nonsense."

                Sure. About 100,000 immigrants per year would be a number that helps lower income Americans.

                1 or 2 million immigrants per year, or 5 or 10, are numbers that enrich the wealthiest Americans at the expense of lower income Americans, more so the higher you go.

                1. Nice ipse dixit. Coming from the guy who wants the federal spending per capita to be back at 1859 levels, I may not trust your bona fides on this.

                  1. Federal spending per capita at 1859 levels? What would that come out to?

                    In that scenario, let's say the States go back to being the primary source of government services and regulation. Seems like a fine idea in theory. Unless you're the big military spending type.

                    1. You said that a couple of years ago.
                      Did you forget? I made something of a big deal about it at the time.

                  2. The actual issue is that immigration helps AND hurts, and the way it nets out is different for different segments of society.

                    For people in the upper income brackets, it's pretty much all benefit.

                    For people in the lower income brackets, it's mixed, but predominantly negative.

                    Perhaps the average net is positive, but the problem with the idea of Pareto efficiency has always been that, just because something produces surplus sufficient to make everybody who's hurt by it better off, doesn't mean that surplus actually gets used that way.

                    Illegal immigration has long been exacerbating income inequality in the US, and since nobody outside the US not a citizen has a right to come here, restricting immigration is the ideal way to fight income inequality, as no American's rights are the least bit infringed by doing it.

                    1. "Illegal immigration has long been exacerbating income inequality in the US"
                      I don't have statistics, but I'd be amazed the the ratio of income between average farm workers in CA and the average professional (say, MD's or mid-career engineers) have changed much over the past 30 years. The growing income inequality in the US is the ration of average worker wage and the compensation of top management. That ration has doubled or tripled in the past thirty years and is far out of line with similar ratios in the EU. That inequality has little to do with illegal or even legal immigration.

                      I'd say that Americans like low food prices. The low prices are thanks to illegal workers keeping food producers costs low.

            2. Population growth is one of the engines of our economy. Our current birth rate is below the minimum population maintenance level. Legal immigration puts "America first" because it adds to our skilled labor pool and keeps our economy growing.

              1. "Population growth is one of the engines of our economy."

                At whose benefit, exactly?

                Please, do yourself a favor and look at the growth in real wages since the 1970s and then start rehashing those Chamber of Commerce Jeb Bush talking points again.

                1. Please don't use correlation as causation in service of your irrational hatred of immigrants.

                  1. I don't have an irrational hatred of immigrants. I myself am a product of them. If saying America should secure its borders and limit immigration, primarily to benefit its native citizens is an irrational hatred of immigrants, well then call me guilty. It was also this country's policy from 1921 to 1965, and at various points in the past as well.

                    Fact is, it's much easier to name call than debate on the merits, ain't it?

                    1. I'm not quite Prof. Somin levels of everyone is the same we needn't look out for number 1 at all, but yeah, America First is pretty fucked up, not the least because of it's legacy.

                      Nationalism isn't nothing, but neither is it everything. Other people matter beyond our borders.

                      Plus, as NToJ laid out really well, immigration helps Americans, and at quite high levels.

                      America from 1920-1965 is not America today, and the world back then is not the world of today, your appeal to past performance is weak.

                    2. If saying America should secure its borders and limit immigration, primarily to benefit its native citizens is an irrational hatred of immigrants,

                      Not an irrational hatred of immigrants, but a bad assumption about its effects.

                2. m_k,
                  Population growth is essential to maintaining the social safety net in the face of otherwise increasing numbers of retirees.

                  Do yourself a favor and try to understand why Germany was willing to accept 1 million new immigrants as an example. The progressive agenda needs an increasing young worker population to sustain it absent significant tax increases on the working class.

              2. "Our current birth rate is below the minimum population maintenance level."

                Yes, and suppressing wages so that most households require two incomes to have a decent standard of living is the primary cause of that. While excessive and primarily illegal immigration isn't the only contributor to that problem, it's the biggest and most easily solved.

                1. Who is "suppressing wages?"

                  Another Bellmore conspiracy.

                2. Brett,
                  The EU is full of countries with births below population maintenance levels. Your claim does not square with global data and historic trends of brith rates vs. nationaal GDP

          2. A very misleading article.

            What happened in FY 2021? Ah yes, a global COVID-19 pandemic. Is it any surprise that legal immigration would drop during such a period?

            A better comparison would be the Trump years BEFORE the pandemic hit. "Before the COVID-19 pandemic during the period from January 2017‐​February 2020, the average number of green cards issued per month was only down about 0.5 percent under Trump compared to from January 2013‐​February 2016 under the Obama administration with cumulative numbers down just over 3.2 percent"

            A very modest decrease, at best. Once you eliminate the outlier of a global pandemic.

            This has been another "Sarcastro" lie.

            1. You should probably slow your roll with the liar accusations.

              Because I linked to source. You are really saying Forbes is lying, and I knew it?

              And the policies they pointed out that clamped down on immigration, those are all lies?

              1. Lying by posting a misleading link. A link that cherry picked a year, during the middle of a global pandemic. Ignoring the 3 other years that don't show anything of the sort (and weren't in a pandemic).

                All of those policies magically appeared JUST in the pandemic year, but not related to the pandemic at all? And none of them at all were in effect during the other 3 years, when there wasn't a pandemic.

                It's a way to lie, Sarcastro. You know this. You're complicit in passing it along.

        2. No, he slashed the hell out of the seasonal worker program, too, you dope.

            1. Trump was adept at chocking off illegal aliens entering the country....not legal immigration

              You were wrong.

              Though you've no pivoted to 'chocking off legal immigrants is also good.'

              No proof that's good, of course.

              1. Naw, what I pointed out was that much of the source of the "legal immigration" was illegal asylum requests, which nobody chose to debate, on because it's difficult to answer for the pro-Great Replacement crowd such as yourself.

                Here's the part where you should sit up and take notice...where I note a side benefit of enforcing immigration laws was also reducing other immigration fraud. If that's conceding the point, then I concede the point.

                1. much of the source of the "legal immigration" was illegal asylum requests, which nobody chose to debate

                  LOL no you didn't. You posted something ignorant and now can't stop doubling down.

                  pro-Great Replacement crowd
                  Maybe don't use the white supremacism conspiracy theory if you want people to take you at all seriously.

                2. the pro-Great Replacement crowd such as yourself.

                  Jews not gonna replace you, are they, m_k?

                  Enough of you.

                  1. This blog has become a magnet for white, male, grievance-consumed, bigoted clingers.

                    Could that be related to the white, male, right-wing nature of the roster of Conspirators?

            2. Oh, sorry, you thought I was dumb enough to engage you in a conversation? No, I was just responding to your nonsense with a fact and then calling you a dope, you dope.

              1. So no facts based in reality and no ability to get there, keep on being you.

        3. That's because you’re bsing. Everyone, including Trump, who said that they were against illegal immigration was lying. They just don't like immigration, period. Especially not from the countries where it's most likely to originate.

          1. DN, I see your powers of telepathy of grown.
            Now, you not only know what any other person - including the people you've never met or seen - are really thinking, you can now know what all the other people are really thinking, simultaneously.

            Or maybe you aren't a telepath, but are projecting your own bigoted prejudices onto other people that you don't understand in the slightest, because it make it easier to feel good about yourself?

          2. Wow. I'm against illegal immigration and also think we need to make legal immigration easier. I also believe in the rule of law. That means that either we all get to pick laws we won't follow with little to no repercussions or no one does. How does that mean I'm lying?

      4. More to the point, when you jack the minimum wage way up, or increase unemployment benefits so they pay more than work, workers choose to become scarce. At least that latter practice ended September 2021, but most minimum wages are still far above their old levels. No wonder "gig work" is displacing employment that counts as employment.

      5. 3.7% unemployment tells us

        ... nothing useful, as always. U-6 is still nearly 7%, and workforce participation is still about a point below its already anemic prior level.

        Get back with us after folks burn through the last of the sit-on-your-ass cash thrown around over the past couple of years like confetti.

    2. They are calling it the "great resignation" because there are enough working age people. But because of stupid covid policies and/or generous benefits and/or people homeschooling to prevent the groomers from getting their kids, they left the workforce.

      1. Got any proof of that, chief?

        1. Funny... Sarcastro asking for proof, when he fails to provide any himself because he's too lazy.

          1. You gonna make this your cottage industry? Just replying to my request for sources by calling me a liar? Because Wuz already has that kind of toxic nonsense locked up.

            1. You going to provide any evidence that isn't misleading?

              No? Too lazy?

      2. "people homeschooling to prevent the groomers from getting their kids"

        Take your meds, my dude. This is embarrassing.

        1. Mocking these frightened, delusional, disaffected right-wing losers has become almost too easy.

          Still worthwhile and fun, though.

      3. Really? You swallow that "grooming" crap?

  5. Huh, it seems from your predicament proves that the market is working.

    Uber increased the price, presumably because it has to pay its drivers more to agree to give people rides. This leads to a reduction in demand, since you won't continue to spend $80 for trips to get breakfast on those occasions when you evidently wake up in some wooded part of rural America, with no other breakfast options available within a 3-mile radius.

    Seems like this is a good time to celebrate the efficiency of markets.

  6. Does anyone have any notion what Blackman is thinking when he posts like this?

    1. Josh is thinking about his feelings, the same as the Justices when they vote on a case at the Supreme Court.

    2. SL
      Why do you assume that he is thinking at all?
      His piece is a pathetic piece of wallowing in self-indulgence

      1. You know this is a blog, right? Where people post what they want? Just like the ad-hominem comments you post.

        1. I know that this a a legal blog. And if JB wants to post self-Centered commentary then he de facto invites such criticism.
          It's a blog... I comment what I want. Got it?

          1. A number of the contributors post about poetry too, which I find even less interesting that this post. But I certainly don't bother posting about my lack of interest in those threads, I just don't read the comments.

            I think this post is above average for Blackman, admittedly a somewhat low bar. It isn't transparently political (like many of his) which is a plus. It is just about something he is observing that is affecting his life that I guess he thought VC readers could relate to. I'd guess many people in the VC demo do use ridesharing apps to some degree, particularly when travelling.

    3. Perhaps unwittingly he likes telling us how he travels a lot (I.e., he’s much in demand) and spends a lot of money on things (i.e. he makes more money than you or me). At least that’s the only common denominator I can discern.

    4. To be honest, I was thinking the comments, like the post itself, would be a train wreck. What he's thinking? He's using the biggest platform he has to bitch about bad service. I don't think Uber execs will care, but you never know.

      1. Market price does not seem to be bad service. Market availability? Tougher call.

      2. In fact, his complaint is NOT about bad service, but about his dislike of the results of market forces in his local economy.

    5. "I need to whine to somebody"

  7. My own experience is that the pandemic impact on Uber varies significantly from city to city. I have experienced a similar effect (double fares; 25 minute waits) in Los Angeles. But not so in Boston.

    Perfect moment for 'your mileage may vary.'

    1. True.

      Boston is a "wallking" city and has a decent subway where LA is/has neither.

      1. LA's subway and light rail system is still growing but it's not bad if you live within the areas that it serves. LA was able to build out many, many miles of subway in less time than SF was able to build a short mile spur to Chinatown.

        1. $17 billion per mile vs. $57 billion per mile, and 12 years vs 17.

          As a completely unrelated side note, deluxe large yacht slip demand has skyrocketted from all the environmental and nimby spot lawyers in this target rich environment.

  8. A couple years ago we checked with Uber, (We were vacationing, and parking at our side trip destination was practically non-existent.) and it was so high even then that we ended up using a taxi. I can only imagine what it's like now.

    One of the developments that might be behind this is that over the last couple of years more and more local jurisdictions have subjected Uber to minimum wage regulations, and required that Uber treat drivers as employees, rather than contractors.

    1. Maybe a little math is in order if you really care about the accuracy of this assertion.

  9. In its low price introduction pre-COVID, Uber knocked many taxi companies out of business. Now with a driver shortage, the non-driver has few options but to look for rides far in advance.

    As for J.B. he should engage a local taxi driver on retainer.

  10. This reads more like an old Onion op-ed article like "When I Grow Up I Want to Drive The Short Bus."

  11. An entire article about the effects of inflation, and no mention of democrat party policies, clearly spelled out in their party platform, that are the driver of every aspect of the problem he describes.
    (war on oil, regulation of everything in sight, flagrant deficit spending, etc.)
    Makes me wonder about the amount of training in logic that lawyers get.

  12. Dunno about Dallas, but in DC, Lyft works.

    Never say I never did anything for you, Josh.

    1. It's nice that there's an alternative (i.e., Lyft). But there is definitely something odd going on with Lyft's service as well. Ever since Lyft introduced its new "Preferred" price level I have found it literally impossible to get a Lyft driver in LA unless I select "Preferred" instead of the base price level.

      "Preferred" is the new level right above the base level that is puzzling because it seems to have no purpose except to increase the price about 20%. Sometimes it claims to have a shorter wait than the base level, but at other times it says it has a longer wait.
      So there's no clear reason it was introduced. But what matters is the reality that now, when I select base level, I can wait till doomsday and never get a driver, and when I select Preferred, I usually get a driver within 30 seconds. What is obviously happening is that Lyft drivers, not being fools, are simply not accepting Lyft requests at the base level, and waiting for the requesting passengers to select Preferred instead.

      I tested this recently when I landed at LAX just before midnight. Not being in a hurry, I clicked base level pricing, and waited 30 minutes until I was getting frostbite. No driver. I then canceled the ride, selected Preferred, and hey presto, got an assigned driver within 20 seconds. An assigned driver who, unlike in the past, clearly wanted to avoid conversation. Possibly because he didn't want to have the "you jerk, were you just waiting till I gave up and selected Preferred?" conversation for the nth time.

      There are so many unfortunate things about Lyft's new system. And what really frosts me is, if they'd just tell me they're raising the prices, and eliminate the now-essentially-fake base pricing level, I'd be totally ok with it. I'd have a fair, informed decision, instead of having to find out the hard way what the new system is. But instead they now do this, which ends up being less simple, less convenient, less fair, and less friendly. Sad.

      1. What you described sounds like a two step auction. Like business vs economy seating. I think you experienced increased agency. Base pricing seems like the way to go when it isn't midnight, warm and sunny, at a nice bar at the beach, and you don't care about when you arrive or depart.
        In the East Village at 11pm, cabbies ask where you want to go and think about "Is this the last ride of the night going in the direction I want to park the cab and sleep?"
        And they won't go around the block to a one way street out of their way. So do you want to be a block from your hotel or stay where you are in the rain? Both have agency.
        It's like Ebay for rides where you get to pay in gold or bitcoins or US.Bolivars.

  13. Perhaps the Uber business model was never sustainable.

    That much was pretty obvious from near the start. Once people realized that drivers should undergo background checks, and that raised the amount of effort required to be a driver, it stopped looking like "ride sharing" and clearly became "different taxi", losing many of the economies of scale that regular taxis have. Uber gained a few other economies of scale, but the biggest competitive advantage is the ability to change pricing quickly -- yet as you remark, exercising that flexibility can be a problem for users.

    1. I would also go with the business model failure. I think Uber got initial support as a new idea but likely suffered when the novelty wore off. I also suspect that the business plan did not account for a pandemic. This includes the fall off in travel. Also, may have been suspicions of passengers and drivers alike that the other is not taking Covid precautions.

      1. Also, in places like CA, treating drivers as employees. That was, of course, not a bug, but a feature, at the behest of the taxi companies and drivers.

      2. I suspect the pandemic is a big hit to Uber and Lyft. I have used Uber/Lyft FAR more often when traveling for business than when in my own city. When I have used it in my city, it's either been because I'm going to the airport or plan on being out drinking. I suspect the same is true for most people--at least those not in very large cities. The only people I know who use rideshare regularly in their own city are using it as an alternative to paying for parking/commuting.

        Business travel, commuting, and going out to bars all went down considerably with the onset of the pandemic. I assume Uber saw a resulting decrease in revenue.

    2. Taxi companies don't scale well given the deep regulation creating high prices and fierce competition for the medalions. Uber's ability to scale with demand is a function of pricing and the price at which drivers will sign-in to work at any given moment.

      Uber's real business model is a driverless one, though, which cuts significant costs.

      By the way, have you seen the video of the cop in SF pulling over a driverless taxi?

  14. needed an Uber to take me about 3 miles to a restaurant for breakfast. The fare was about $80, and it took nearly 15 minutes to get a ride!

    Standard walking speed is what, 4 miles / hour?

    That's $80 to get there in 15min + travel time, instead of in 45 min.

    1. More like $80 to avoid arriving looking like a sweaty lawyer.

    2. "Standard walking speed is what, 4 miles / hour?"

      That's the low end of average. Its usually more like 20. 3 in an hour.

      Plus, what were the walking conditions? Sidewalks all the way? Big roads to cross?

      Then 3 miles back. I bets it is 2 1/2 hours for most people for the round trip.

  15. Interesting. I had noticed an increase in the price of Lyft rides here in CA but had assumed it was a California problem, caused by the court that overturned Prop 22 (a case that is still waiting to be heard in the state Supreme Court). If it is more widespread, the price of gas -- which Biden's puppet masters inflicted on us on purpose, and don't intend to fix -- is more likely the reason.

    1. I've been saying it for a long time. These people are not your friends and ought to be taken seriously. When they say things like "if you want to save money, drive an electric car," they mean it. Or, "parents should play no role in the education of their children," they mean it. Or, "you will pay higher prices because that is good for the climate," they mean it.

      This isn't some game where the left is just a bunch of unserious actors playing a parody role. Back in the 1990's most of this stuff was viewed as insane, drug induced, niche, far left activist junk but now it is no laughing matter.

    2. caused by the court that overturned Prop 22

      WE LOVE DEMOCRACY!

      Until we don't.

  16. In SF, Uber just signed a contract to list all the Flywheel taxis in the city on their app. I haven't tried to use them, yet, but it required the city to change some law or code to permit taxis to provide an estimated fee for the trip rather than have it be purely metered.

    Getting an Uber in SF wasn't easy at the start of the pandemic or during the months the state was voting on whether to make Uber drivers employees. Post-vaccines, though, it's been much easier and the prices have returned to normal. I still keep the Flywheel app on my phone just in case.

    1. Permitting people to do work, under a communist theory this heah town ain't big enuf for the both of us!

      Woo wee! No corruption here, just pure, unadulterated freedom!

  17. I'm going to bet government intervention. Requiring Uber to treat drivers as employees versus independent contractors. And requiring special provisions for taxi's which sucked and still royally suck.

    1. You go into government to get in the way, to get paid to get back out of the way. Connected cronies you protect or divert work to, relatives becoming investment geniuses, kickbacks, pay2play, it's all good!

  18. That the price of Uber has gone up is simply supply and demand.

    1. No, we saw something in the range of normal market pricing the first few years after it came out. What we're seeing now is the effect of regulations and other market distortions catching up with them.

      1. More likely, in the years after it came out, Uber burned through investors' money trying to run taxi companies out of business, and now the bills are coming due. In terms of regulations, which ones exactly? You'd be hard-pressed to name a single company less impacted by regulations than Uber. It's entire business model is built on misclassifying its workers so it can avoid regulations.

  19. I think the original business model of ride-sharing was sustainable. Once people started trying to make it their full-time job, complaining about a livable wage from what was always supposed to be a side gig, it has threatened that model. Pandemic has definitely cut down on drivers, ever higher fuel prices increase costs for Uber the same as it would for your own vehicle. Not unreasonable that these two factors (lack of drivers, inflation) would be causing the degradation you’re experiencing.
    Remember when Trump was president? We had low unemployment, plenty of Uber drivers, Russia stopped/paused their Ukraine crap, we were a net exporter of oil? Good times.

    1. You have it backwards. If you have a "side gig" if anything you should demand to earn more than your ordinary job.

      One thing people who drive Uber definitely need is the ability to make money. So, when gas prices go up, so will the price of Uber rides.

      When people use Uber less as a result of price increases, that is a consequence of the shortage of the underlying resource.

  20. Not the least bit surprising. Uber's model was was the stuff of capitalists dreams, bold investors getting astronomical profits while doing as little as possible, to build a sustainable company. As long as there were individuals in the world were willing to take a marginal cut, it was golden. The problem came when the investors got greedy, Uber asked for a bigger cut, and then a bigger cut, then started cutting people out of pickups. Each year they lost drivers, now its basically a gig for people who can't get a job doing anything else. There's nowhere to go but down.

  21. Once again, we get a Josh Blackman post whose topic is Josh Blackman.

    There were 30 sentences in this post, including the head/subhead. 24 of them contained either the word "I" or one of its variations ("me," "my"). (And I'm being charitable, because three of the remaining six sentences were about Josh Blackman, even though they didn't use any of those magic words. Only three of the sentences were actually about Uber in general.)

    1. Don't read it. Or ask for a refund.

      Did you expect a treatise on macroeconomics from a headline that says:

      "I Can No Longer Rely On Uber
      Uber is no longer a viable product for me."

      1. I actually did expect something. He could easily have made a mention of Hubert Horan's now-twenty-nine-part series on Uber.

        https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/?s=uber

  22. The mention of the Abilene Paradox brings to mind Selten's Chain-Store Paradox and a post appearing in Financial Times back in 2014 (at https://www.ft.com/content/b7f4a4e6-3ec1-11e4-adef-00144feabdc0 ).

    "Consider a grimmer parallel."

  23. I had my had my disagreements with Professor Blackman, but I don’t see anything especially odd about this topic, it’s a first world problem, and there are people dying as we speak, but I suspect most of us in the audience are pretty much first world people and can relate to problems like this.

    As others have pointed out, when you drive out competition and attain monopoly status, you can then set whatever prices you want.

    And although Uber has some actual long-term advantages, a great deal of its advantaage was temporary.

    1. It exploited technology-based loopholes in old regulations which regulated thijgs like street hail vehicles. Since people hailed an Uber through an app and not through visual sighting, it escaped these regulations’ scipe, even though it offered an essentially equivalent service.

    2. Since it avoided regualation and the need for a license, it was able to punch a into the artificially inflated prices of taxi licenses that years of rent-seeking had created, drastically reducing its entry costs in comparison.

    3. It exploited the halo surrounding anything that had anything to do with an app, selling itself to investors as a TECHNOLOGY company rather than a transportation company. One can image a century or more ago some ordinary business installing a telephone line and suddenly selling itself as a new, radically different COMMUNICATIONS company. After a while, the halo fades and people start realizing that pretending now-ubiquitous technology was such a big deal or somehow fundamentally changed the nature of the businees was pretty silly to begin with.

    1. I had my had my disagreements with Professor Blackman, but I don’t see anything especially odd about this topic, it’s a first world problem, and there are people dying as we speak, but I suspect most of us in the audience are pretty much first world people and can relate to problems like this.

      You're missing the point. If the topic were Uber pricing or service or reliability, it would be a reasonable one. But this is just a post supplying anecdotes of Prof. Blackman's personal experience on a few occasions.

      If he had used one of those anecdotes as a jumping off point for discussing Uber, that'd be one thing. But, no, there wasn't actually any point other than that he's not happy with Uber.

      1. Whether he intended to or not, this did end up being a jumping-off point for discussing Uber and the underlying economics, whether Josh wanted it to be or not.

  24. Uber is losing drivers to delivery services. I had eye surgery toward the end of 2019 and used Uber daily. It was convenient and affordable. I live in a city of about 45,000. In summer of 2020, I needed to use Uber regularly for a while. There were many times when I simply could not get a car. I ended up waiting an hour or hour and a half for a taxi. Finally, I started scheduling cabs ahead of time. On one of the last Uber rides I took, the driver told me that most Uber drivers run multiple apps at once and may be doing Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and InstaCart. He said deliveries pay better than simple Uber, and the tips are better. He said if he's driving for a six or eight hours, he'll only turn on the Uber app, when he has no deliveries going.

  25. Have yet to use Uber or Lyft. And my last taxi ride was somewhere along the Mediterranean coast in the early 1990s- can't recall which port it was in.

    With both Uber and Lyft, if I understand fully how they work- you're bidding for a service provided by the driver. One of my sons did part time Uber. Could make a few hundred dollars on a Saturday night when the local universities had a home football game. Or there was a big festival downtown, or any special occasion like that. If you're not getting ride when you want it- you're not bidding enough to make it worthwhile for any of the drivers to pick you up.

    And Uber for $80 to drive 3 miles? Real market price. Means there wasn't much competition for services. Tough. Drivers for all the ride sharing businesses are independent contractors. With no set hours. Now the hotel you were at if it had one driver in duty 24/7 could offer rides to all it's guests to a radius, let's say 5 miles, from the hotel, for a "fair" price. But they can't. Because that changed the economics of the whole thing. Does the driver need to be a licensed livery driver if working as an employee? If the city has taxi regulations- how do they affect a hotel's drive services? Does the hotel have to charge a fixed rate per mile as licensed cabs do? Uber and Lyft are operating outside a regulatory framework.

    I have a junior HS friend who was a heavy drug user in HS, and in fact, didn't make it through all 4 years because of it. He found a gig as a cab driver, and became a company owner with up to 3 cabs at one time. Uber/Lyft killed his company. He ended up living in his cab for a few months before finding someone who would take him in. He has really nasty things to say about Uber/Lyft because they destroyed the regulated business model on which he made a living. Was their creation unfair to my friend? Or was the regulated business model unfair to people who didn't ant a job with regular hours?

    If you have to rely on others for transportation to where you need or want to be, you're going to be at the mercy of either a regulated or a deregulated transport environment. When I've visited cities in the last few decades, I've made sure ahead of time to plan my visit around bus, subway, and light railway schedules, and only planned to visit places within walking distance of their stops.

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