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Uberization of America

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From Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, Driving Uber Mad

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, “There’s an Uber for everything now. Washio is for having someone do your laundry, Sprig and SpoonRocket cook your dinner and Shyp will mail things out so you don’t have to brave the post office. Zeel delivers a massage therapist (complete with table). Heal sends a doctor on a house call, while Saucey will rush over alcohol. And by Jeeves — cutesy names are part of the schtick — Dufl will pack your suitcase and Eaze will reup a medical marijuana supply.”

There is also Luxe, which uses GPS to offer a personal parking valet dressed in a blue uniform who will meet you at your destination and park your car for you.

But they’ll no doubt all have mutually insured destruction rating systems, too, so Saucey will reveal how politely I grab my bottle of Grey Goose.

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Confusion of Virtue

From the New York Times, Weary of Relativity by Frank Bruni

excerpts

Set the bar low enough and all blame is deflected, all shame expunged. Choose the right points of reference and behold the alchemy: naughty deeds into humdrum conformity. Excess into restraint. Sinners into saints.

When it comes to money, almost everybody looks up — not down or sideways — to determine how he or she is doing and what he or she might be owed. There’s always someone higher on the ladder and getting a whole lot more, always someone who establishes a definition of greed that you fall flatteringly short of.

One titan’s bonanza becomes the next titan’s yardstick, and the pay of the nation’s top executives spirals ever further out of control.

Then there’s the moral jujitsu that American voters have become especially adept at in these polarized times. Many of them unreservedly exalt their party’s emissary — and inoculate him or her from disparagement — simply because he or she represents the alternative to someone from the other side. Being the lesser of evils is confused with being virtuous, though it’s a far, far cry from that.

President Obama stumbles or falls and is pardoned by all-or-nothing partisans on the grounds that he’s not George W. Bush. Those same partisans wave off any naysaying about his foreign policy by bringing up the invasion of Iraq. And the bungled rollout of Obamacare? A mere wisp of inconvenience in comparison with the botched response to Hurricane Katrina. Everything’s relative.

Except it’s not.

There are standards to which government, religion and higher education should be held. There are examples that politicians and principled businesspeople should endeavor to set, regardless of whether their peers are making that effort. There’s right and wrong, not just better or worse.

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Poverty Pathology

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From Townhall Walter Williams writes The True Black Tragedy

excerpts:

Today the overwhelming majority of black children are raised in single female-headed families. As early as the 1880s, three-quarters of black families were two-parent. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black families were two-parent. One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children had the same mother and father.

Today’s black illegitimacy rate of nearly 75 percent is also entirely new. In 1940, black illegitimacy stood at 14 percent. It had risen to 25 percent by 1965, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” and was widely condemned as a racist. By 1980, the black illegitimacy rate had more than doubled, to 56 percent, and it has been growing since. Both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks.

Much of today’s pathology seen among many blacks is an outgrowth of the welfare state that has made self-destructive behavior less costly for the individual. Having children without the benefit of marriage is less burdensome if the mother receives housing subsidies, welfare payments and food stamps. Plus, the social stigma associated with unwed motherhood has vanished. Female-headed households, whether black or white, are a ticket for dependency and all of its associated problems. Ignored in all discussions is the fact that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994.

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“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  It is hard to visualize  this trend being reversed without a form of moral preening from the government that few voters today would ever tolerate.

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Stepford Students

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From The Spectator, Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the ‘right to be comfortable’ by Brendan O’Neill;

If your go-to image of a student is someone who’s free-spirited and open-minded, who loves having a pop at orthodoxies, then you urgently need to update your mind’s picture bank. Students are now pretty much the opposite of that. It’s hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin’ to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation. My showdown with the debate-banning Stepfords at Oxford and the pre-crime promoters at Cambridge echoed other recent run-ins I’ve had with the intolerant students of the 21st century. I’ve been jeered at by students at the University of Cork for criticising gay marriage; cornered and branded a ‘denier’ by students at University College London for suggesting industrial development in Africa should take precedence over combating climate change; lambasted by students at Cambridge (again) for saying it’s bad to boycott Israeli goods. In each case, it wasn’t the fact the students disagreed with me that I found alarming — disagreement is great! — it was that they were so plainly shocked that I could have uttered such things, that I had failed to conform to what they assume to be right, that I had sought to contaminate their campuses and their fragile grey matter with offensive ideas.

One day, these Stepford students, with their lust to ban, their war on offensive lingo, and their terrifying talk of pre-crime, will be running the country. And then it won’t only be those of us who occasionally have cause to visit a campus who have to suffer their dead dogmas.

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Rolex and Timex

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Kevin Williamson writes in National Review, Who Boycotts Walmart

Excerpts:

It is easy to scoff, but I am ready to start taking the social-justice warriors’ insipid rhetoric seriously — as soon as two things happen: First, I want to hear from the Wal-Mart-protesting riffraff a definition of “justice” that is something that does not boil down to “I Get What I Want, Irrespective of Other Concerns.”

Second, I want to turn on the radio and hear Jay-Z boasting about his new Timex.

It is remarkable that Wal-Mart, a company that makes a modest profit margin (typically between 3 percent and 3.5 percent) selling ordinary people ordinary goods at low prices, is the great hate totem for the well-heeled Left, whose best-known celebrity spokesclowns would not be caught so much as downwind from a Supercenter, while at the same time, nobody is out with placards and illiterate slogans and generally risible moral posturing in front of boutiques dealing in Rolex, Prada, Hermès, et al. It’s almost as if there is a motive at work here other than that which is stated by our big-box-bashing friends on the left and their A-list human bullhorns.

If economic “exploitation” means making “obscene profits” — an empty cliché if ever there were one — then Wal-Mart and the oil companies ought to be the good guys; not only do they have relatively low profit margins, but they also support millions of union workers and retirees through stock profits and the payment of dividends into pension funds. By way of comparison, consider that Hermès, the luxury-goods label that is a favorite of well-heeled social-justice warriors of all sorts, makes a profit margin that is typically seven or eight times what Wal-Mart makes, even though, as rapper Lloyd Banks discovered, its $1,300 sneakers may not always be up to the task. If Wal-Mart is the epitome of evil for selling you a Timex at a 3 percent markup, then shouldn’t Rolex be extra-super evil?