Weekly Digest 6/21/18

Ben Thompson on electric scooters – American cities are designed for cars, not bikes and scooters. If we could magically change most cities from being car-centric cities to bike-and-scooter-centric cities, we’d be much better off, but getting from here to there is immensely, maybe impossibly, difficult. Ben also covers Uber’s mistake in entering the race for autonomous vehicles and how scooters and bikes give the company a second chance to get its strategy right.

Why do males exist? Asks Robin Hanson – Plants are hermaphrodites, so they benefit from having two parents for gene diversity while ensuring that each member contributes equally. Why animals can’t do the same isn’t clear, and competing for mates isn’t an answer since plants also compete for mates.

John Cochrane uses air ambulances as an example to show why cross-subsidies are so bad – Consumers that can afford air ambulances pay more so that poor consumers have the opportunity to pay less; this is how things should be, but the way we get that to happen is inefficient. Instead of cross subsidies, Cochrane says that we should instead tax the rich to help the poor pay. Currently the regulations from the cross subsidies limit supply, causing exorbitant prices that wouldn’t exist in a competitive market with more suppliers.

Scott Alexander on arbitrary deploring – Scott pushes back on Bryan Caplan’s assertion that we deplore people disproportionately; in Caplan’s examples, we seem to be punishing disproportionately because we are enforcing norms, norms that we as a society agree must be adhered to.

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