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Are You Ready for the Next Industry Uber Innovates?

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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I am proud to admit that I am a HUGE fan of Uber.

uberWhen I travel, I use it almost exclusively for transportation. A few mornings a week, I even Uber to work to get ahead of the workday by knocking out a few e-mails or phone calls before my first trip to the refrigerator for a refreshing beverage (I don’t drink coffee). I Ubered to work this morning, because I knew that those few minutes I save result in greater productivity on the busiest day of the workweek around here.

When the story of the end to their experimentation with a courier-like service to become a full-featured delivery business model became widely shared yesterday, we saw the next innovation in the “sharing economy.” This change joins Amazon and Google in the instant gratification game. As a member of Amazon Prime (and more importantly, Prime Now) and Google Express, I enjoy near immediate delivery of many items to my office or my home that would otherwise require a trip to a grocery or big-box retail store.

After offering a free market alternative to taxis and buses and introducing the areas they serve to the “sharing economy,” Uber sought to grow into the logistics market. While not what they envisioned at the start, Uber’s experiment may result in providing small businesses, like restaurants and boutiques to offer same-day delivery without the overhead and development of a local logistics program.

What I found to be bigger news than their introduction of these services in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, is that the demand for the service changed their implementation of the new business. The market demanded that the simple courier service they envisioned morph and adapt to accommodate the business side of a transaction, rather than compete directly with delivery services. The original offer is still available, though expanding to be a partner with the small business looking to meet their needs will likely be the driving force of their entrance into the delivery market.

Isn’t it great to have competition and cooperation to meet the customers’ needs, even if those needs didn’t match the beginning hypothesis?

Liberty Language: Instead of “Sales Tax”

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 10 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

As Mark Twain famously observed, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is Lightning Wordsreally a large matter — ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

The political words and labels we use are vitally important. I’m always looking for new, more effective political wording — political “lightning words” that will open minds and stimulate thinking.

Here are a couple more excellent mind-opening word suggestions from economist Mark Perry, who writes the excellent blog Carpe Diem. (We looked at his thoughts on alternative wording for the minimum wage in my previous column.)

These suggestions concern the sales tax.

Most of us think of the sales tax as spare change, or a nuisance, most of the time — a few pennies or dollars per purchase, and the occasional more painful amount on big-ticket purchases. Yet the total amount Americans pay over the course of a year in sales taxes can be a significant percentage of their income. In California, for example, state and local sales taxes can hit a whopping 10%. And sales taxes on the necessities of life — food, clothing, transportation, etc. — can hit the poor and struggling especially hard.

The way the sales tax is collected, in daily small amounts, muddies and hides the impact of this tax and who pays it. So does the innocuous name “sales tax.”

Perry suggests two alternate terms to make people think. He suggests it’s more accurate to call the sales tax “the consumer tax” or “the buyers’ tax” so that “the ultimate payer of the tax is recognized.”

I like both of these, and I’m especially fond of “buyers’ tax.”

And here’s one of my own: “customer tax.”

Try them out. You may find they open minds and lead to fruitful discussions.

They Said It… P. J. O’Rourke, Nick Gillespie, And More!

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Senator Rand Paul

“You want to minimize how much government we have because government frankly isn’t good at anything.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweet, July 19, 2014.


P.J. O'Rourke

“Imagine trying to make the Ten Commandments into laws. There goes Hollywood Buddhism, representative art, golf on Sunday, the language I use during golf on Sunday, most sex, Wall Street, fibbing to escape the Tupperware party next door, and envying your boss’s Porsche. And we’d all be jailed for putting mom in the nursing home.” — P.J. O’Rourke, “Up To A Point: My Problem With People Who Agree With Me,” The Daily Beast, July 20, 2007.

Nick GillespieBACK TO IRAQ:
“[T]roops — well, advisers — are going back to Iraq, six years after this president was elected on a promise to get us out of there.” — Nick Gillespie, “After Bipartisan Bush-Obama Blundering, Let’s Try a Libertarian Foreign Policy,” The Daily Beat, July 16, 2014.


Cory Massimino“How do states harm poor people? Oh let me count the ways… patent and copyright laws, which impede competition, immigration restrictions, which lock people out of opportunities, licenses, which prevent people from entering the market, regulation that is often originated in rent seeking, the money monopoly, which helps large banks and currency manipulators, credit laws, which crush small banks through capitalization requirements, tariffs, which protect large companies from foreign competition, transportation, which helps big box corporations through highway subsidies, urban sprawl policies, which enrich construction companies, research subsidies, which hook the public on risky investments, limited liability laws that protect large corporations from lawsuits, labor laws that restrict the ability of unions to defend their workers, bailouts that directly redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, eminent domain, which rewards land to political donors, a tax code that can be gamed by the wealthy, the military industrial complex that enriches weapons manufacturers, and more.” — Cory Massimino, “The Conscience of an Anarchist: A Review,” Center for a Stateless Society, May 30th, 2014.


David Letterman“According to a new study, the largest producer of oil is now the United States. So you know what that means — any day now we’ll be invading ourselves.” — David Letterman, July 11, 2014.


“They want to make it so the president can instantly Jimmy Falloninterrupt TV broadcasts whenever there’s breaking news. Then Obama said, ‘And I mean REAL breaking news, not that CNN stuff.’” — Jimmy Fallon, July 15, 2014.

“House Speaker John Boehner is threatening to sue President Obama for using executive actions to create laws, instead of going through Congress first. Then Obama shrugged and made a new law that you can’t sue the president.” — Jimmy Fallon, July 7, 2014.


Murray Rothbard“The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.” — Murray Rothbard, from his classic 1963 essay “War, Peace and the State,” recently requoted by Sheldon Richman.

Great News! The World Is Getting Better:

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

HumanProgress.orgThere is a large and growing body of evidence showing dramatic and remarkable improvements in human well-being in recent decades, especially in the developing world.

Unfortunately, this evidence is little-known and often overlooked. Bad news and predictions of doom and gloom are disproportionately reported. Many people, including the highly educated, simply have no idea of the great and ongoing progress in many crucial areas of human life around the world.

This exciting and uplifting news deserves far more attention., a new website and research tool from the Cato Institute, hopes to accomplish that.

Many visitors who take the time to explore the site will be genuinely surprised by the well-documented major advances in world peace, living standards, environmental cleanliness, life spans, and much more. Crimes such as rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, and child abuse are all substantially down from the past. Around 5.1 billion people live in countries where incomes have more than doubled since 1960, and well over half the human race lives in countries where average incomes have tripled or more. Technologies unimaginable just a few years ago are now commonplace even among the world’s poor. provides tools that let users see the many documented ways in which the world has become a far better place. Over 500 data sets of human development indicators from a variety of reliable sources allow visitors to compare indicators with one another, create and share graphics, and calculate differences in human well-being between different countries over time. Visitors can explore progress in categories including: Communications, Education, Energy, Environment, Food, Gender Equality, Happiness, Health, Housing, Transportation, Violence, and Wealth.

By putting together this comprehensive data in an accessible way, provides a fantastic documented resource for scholars, journalists, students, and the general public.

For a good graph-free overview of what it’s all about, go to the introductory essay “What is Human Progress?” which presents some downright startling figures and arguments and puts them in context.

And for an easy way to keep up with breaking good news about human progress — and to get a regular booster shot of reasons for rational optimism — you can like’s Facebook page.

Cato hopes that will lead to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world. Things are getting better in many areas, to a remarkable degree, and largely due to progress in markets, civil liberties and peace. That’s great news! Let’s spread the word.