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Uber’s Path of Destruction

Since it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality. An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets…

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The Return of the Hidden Persuaders

Critiques of advertising are back. Ten years ago, casual talk about how advertising influences behavior would have come across as weird and paranoid—the preserve of the online conspiracy fringe. Today it is everywhere. Leading journalistic outlets fret over something resembling mind control. Politicos talk in ominous tones of stolen elections and Manchurian candidates. And government…

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The Illusion of a “Marketplace of Ideas” and the Right to Truth

The traditional model of a “marketplace of ideas” was intended to justify freedom of speech in terms of its optimal outcome in the production of truth. But today our behavior on the internet, the main locus of the “marketplace of ideas,” is continuously monitored and processed through the analysis of big data. Complex algorithms categorize…

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The Open Office and the Spirit of Capitalism

It would be too much to say that the office is the prime locus of utopian aspirations in American life. But the claim wouldn’t be entirely misleading, either, and it might even shed some light on what the office actually is. From their earliest days as dingy counting houses in Boston and Manhattan, American offices have…

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Fear and the Renunciation of Politics

That fear has become politicized is widely recognized. Commentators and politicians frequently accuse their opponents of practicing “the politics of fear.” Those who use the idiom of the politics of fear, however, assume that the meaning of the term requires no explanation. Yet it is not simply a term of description; it is also used…

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“Getting Away with Murder”: Prescription Drug Coverage in America

Nine days before the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, Vice President Elect Mike Pence strode to the press conference podium. He reviewed the transition team’s progress in nominating cabinet secretaries, but quickly turned his attention to the “concerted effort . . . to delegitimize this election and to demean our incoming administration.” Although pledging his…

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Kanye West’s Radical Black Liberation Theology

Kanye West has always had a streak of what one might call conservatism. He defiantly included “Jesus Walks” on his 2004 debut album, despite repeated urging from record execs to drop it, and predictions that it would never get play. Instead, the single helped make his career. The track begins with Kanye revealing, “We at…

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Clean Rooms and Dirtbags

Conservative Canadian professor Jordan Peterson and socialist Brooklynite podcast Chapo Trap House have a lot in common. They each make around a hundred thousand dollars a month from Patreon donations. They each inspire both adoration and revulsion, while rejecting, in different ways, forms of political correctness…

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Breaking Bad: Walter White as Nietzschean Hero

Meet Walter White: once a promising chemist with a PhD from Caltech, at age fifty, he appears to be an unre­markable teacher at a public high school in Albuquerque. When he tries to offer a passionate introduction to chemistry on the first day of class, most of his students stare blankly while a few flirt in the back of the room…

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The Criminal as Entrepreneur

The latest iteration of rap beef—this time between the multiplatinum hitmaker Drake and the street-credible lyricist Pusha T—had all of the attributes of the tradition, only it was fueled by the warp speed of social media and the glitz of a calculated marketing plan. Witty innuendo, gossip, and slick production were married to the Spotify playlist algorithm and Instagram stories. But there was something…

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