The Barren Economic Landscape Of Post-Capitalism

TN readers know that Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy, is an economic system that is sworn to overthrow Capitalism and Free Enterprise. What seemed impossible six months ago has how happened in 3 short months, thanks to the Great Panic of 2020. ⁃ TN Editor

There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today!

Our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

–Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) to Howard Beale (Peter Finch), Network, 1976, Network – Money speech

Readers of the BullBear Market Report have been following as I have tracked the progress of what I conceptualized as the final 5th wave of a Secular Long Wave in markets, economics, politics and society that began, as measured and indicated by the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI), in 1949.  Accompanying the completion of this very long term secular movement in the general advancement of human structures, we have anticipated a disrupted period of transition, similar or at least analogous to the 1929-1949 period.  In my last report, “Apocalypse Now? The Secular Shift at the Crest of the Long Wave“, I concluded that there was sufficient cause to think that the 70-year cycle had completed and that we are now participating in the “Secular Shift” to a new paradigm.

While we can look to the past for clues as to what to expect from this contemporary experience, we also need to keep in mind that history does not repeat itself, it merely often rhymes.  In this introduction to the latest BBMR, we’re going to take a detached view of the current reality so that we can establish a fresh, unbiased and free context for our trading and investing decisions.

Long ago, in 2013, in “The Death of Disasterism“, I surveyed the various prevailing market viewpoints and concluded that from a contrarian perspective, the bullish outlook was the most viable.  I held this view while at the same time anticipating that the assumptions that underpinned it would ultimately come to an end.  And it seems there is every reason to think that that end has arrived.  At this pivotal time, it’s also appropriate to do a “self-check” to make sure that we are not proceeding from ingrained bias and lazy assumptions.

Generally, I avoid commentary and stay focused on technical analysis.  But at certain junctures, context becomes primary to any analytical framework.  And this is definitely one of those times.

Today we are confronted with an unprecedented global cessation of economic activity, trade, consumption and travel.  Simultaneously, we are presented with an equally unprecedented monetary and fiscal intervention by central banks and governments.  This situation was provoked not by a viral pandemic, but by the global governmental response to the potential for a viral pandemic.  Regardless of what you may think about the origins of the COVID-19 virus, the response to it and the consequences of that response is entirely man-made.

Shutting down the US economy entirely and placing the population in “lockdown” mode was a choice, not a necessity.  The threat of the virus could also have been managed by:

  • Vigorous public education on proper use of Personal Protective Equipment
    • Kinds of face masks, how and when to use them
    • gloves
    • sanitizers
    • recommendation for workplace and public space PPE use and sanitary practices
  • Government direct purchase and distribution of masks and PPE to the public and health care facilities via states and city government agencies
  • Government authority compelling appropriate industries to manufacture appropriate PPE; contracting to purchase the resulting production
  • Restriction of travel to and from global viral hotspot centers
  • Recommending that large scale gatherings be postponed
  • Advising that at-risk populations (elderly) be isolated
  • Vigorous public education on proper diet, nutritional and exercise guidelines to boost immune system efficiency

If government had speedily and efficiently exercised such responsible and forthright leadership, in place of launching an irrational panic, we could have controlled the outbreak of the virus, preserved our economic and personal well-being, retained our freedoms and placed ourselves in a good position from which to recover from the relatively mild disruption.

Instead, panic was chosen.  The resulting economic crisis is completely man-made.

It is man-made because prior to the first coronavirus case, the entire U.S. and global economy was floating on the thin skin of an Everything Bubble, inflated continuously since the institution of ongoing Quantitative Easing and near-zero interest rates in the wake of the last man-made financial crisis.  And it is man-made because the policy response of panicked shutdown lockdown was totally unnecessary.  And I will go so far as to state that at the highest levels of power, the coronavirus was seized upon as an opportunity to use the potential for a pandemic as the pin to intentionally prick the Everything Bubble with the right hand while waiting with the left hand to bail the whole mess out using the virus as a cover to accomplish strategic goals that could not be accomplished absent an atmosphere of total crisis and panic.

At a Secular Shift, it’s reasonable and appropriate to anticipate and expect fundamental changes to financial, economic, political and social structures.  Generally, one might hope for an eventually better future, following a difficult period of transition and gestation.  I think we can say that we are in the midst of such a period now, but its characteristics and the eventual outcome may not be unfolding as many have expected.

We have to first wrap our minds around the basic facts of recent events.  The most essential fact is that the U.S. and global economy is now in receivership.  It has been declared insolvent and shut down.  The receiver is the Central Banking Authority.  The maintenance and operation of all economic (and by extension, political and social) mechanisms is now in the possession of the fundamental power to create money.  By fiat power, the entirety of economic activity has been extra-legally declared to be under the direct and ultimate purview and responsibility of the Money Power.

This is nothing short of a coup.  The seizure of ultimate power by extra-legal means under the mantle of presumed and unchallenged authority and the cover of fear.

The Federal Reserve Bank, as the issuer of the global reserve currency, and its associated global central banks, have unilaterally granted themselves the power to issue any amount of currency.  They have declared the power to buy and sell with literally unlimited artificially-created funds in any market at any time for any reason.  They have issued the edict that all bankruptcy, all default and all consequence for any misallocation of resources is illegal and null.  Any form of speculation and financial engineering, whether in the past, present or future, has been sanctioned and authorized.  Those without access to the spigots of central bank liquidity will receive subsistence levels of Universal Basic Income.

There are no more free markets.  There is no capitalism.  If there is an actor in the markets which can intervene in any way at any time for any reason in any amount without any process of authorization then there are no markets.  There is only pure, centralized, fiat power.

None of this could have been accomplished absent a pervasive atmosphere of fear and a population willingly submitting to lockdown.  There are no tanks in the streets, but the first UBI checks are in the mail.

Since the Everything Bubble would have eventually burst on its own, it was decided to intentionally pop it, place the economy in receivership and then effect a controlled reorganization.

Just as the first experimental rounds of Quantitative Easing and near-zero real interest rates were never rolled back, long after the financial crisis was over and well into a supposed economic recovery, the current state of affairs will never be reversed.  Instead, this sudden power grab will form the basis of financial, economic, political and social authority going forward, a foundation upon which a new order will be built.

Since 2008, free market capitalism has been held captive in a cell, tortured, beaten and bloodied.  In March 2020, it was taken out back, put up against a wall and shot in the head.  We are in Post-Capitalism 1.0 now.

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Is COVID-19 Forcing Deglobalization?

There is lots of discussion about the global pandemic dismantling globalization, but it fails to take into account Technocracy and its practitioners who are only interested in the destruction of Capitalism and Free Enterprise. ⁃ TN Editor
 

One of the more worrying consequences of the coronavirus is that it looks likely to become a catalyst for deglobalisation.

At the centre of this will be the decoupling of the Chinese economy with developed economies and the US in particular. The world’s three largest free economies – the European Union, the United States and Japan – are all drawing up separate plans to lure their companies out of China.

European Union trade commissioner Phil Hogan has called on companies to consider moving away from China; US President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow has said the government should pay the costs of American firms moving manufacturing back from China onto US soil; and Tokyo has unveiled a US$2.2 billion fund to tempt Japanese manufacturers back to Japan or even to Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, bills are piling up in the US Congress aimed at reducing America’s reliance on Chinese supply chains and pushing for a decoupling of the world’s two largest economies.

While these are recent moves, the truth is the debate on globalisation – and deglobalisation – began more than a decade ago in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008.

After decades of globalisation in trade, capital flows and even people-to-people exchanges, the trend has reversed over the past decade as trade and financial integration stalled.

Protectionist tendencies are on the rise. Since 2008, G20 countries have added more than 1,200 restrictions on exports and imports. Britain’s decision to leave the EU, the election of Trump on a protectionist agenda, and the rising popularity of right-wing political parties in France, Italy and elsewhere are all examples of rising public discontent with the status quo.

Deglobalisation gained steam when Trump launched tariff wars against many of American’s trade partners, China in particular. Since the advent of the US-China trade war in the past two years there has been growing evidence of a sharp decrease in merchandise, capital and people-to-people flows.

Conventional wisdom suggests globalisation makes the world a better place to live as a whole, as free trade generally promotes global economic growth. Economic liberalisation creates jobs, makes companies more competitive, and lowers prices for consumers. Advances in technology and communications have made it easier than ever for people and businesses to stay connected.

But globalisation is a complicated issue and its benefits and disadvantages are not equally shared. Globalisation is good for multinational corporations and Wall Street as it opens up opportunities to sell goods and services to much larger markets with greater profits. They also benefit from moving assembly lines to developing countries where production costs are lower.

The biggest problem for developed countries is that jobs are lost in the process. Supporters of globalisation point out that it has brought about cheaper imported goods. But this benefit does not offset the decline of jobs and therefore wages.

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e-scooters

Pandemic Might Bury E-Scooters Once And For All

A lot of city-dwellers will not lose any sleep over the disappearance of e-scooters scattered around sidewalks, but COVID-19 may present a financial burden that just cannot be overcome. ⁃ TN Editor

Vultures are circling around shared micromobility.

E-scooter operators like Bird, Lime, Jump, and Spin were confronting financial headwinds even before Covid-19 drastically reduced urban trips worldwide. Faced with plummeting usage, the companies have yanked their fleets off the street and retreated from entire continents. Their financial outlook is bleak: Bird recently laid off nearly 40 percent of its staff, while Lime is reportedly seeking an emergency round of financing at a sharply reduced valuation.

Dockless micromobility’s biggest uncertainty is no longer the extent to which cities will accommodate a new form factor, but whether shared scooters will still be available when we emerge from the current pandemic. The time has come for local officials to consider an idea that would have seemed anathema two months ago: Should they stop imposing fees on e-scooter operators and start —  gulp — subsidizing them?

Such a question may initially sound absurd. After all, we’re in the midst of a near-global lockdown, with urban residents worldwide instructed to stay home unless a trip is essential. Local transportation officials are scrambling to keep their employees safeexpand street space available for social distancing, and ensure essential workers can get to their jobs. Should a micromobility mode that’s famous for amusing tourists and angering sidewalk users really be a priority right now?

A number of signs say yes. Virtually all scooter and bike riders will maintain the six feet of distance from others recommended by the CDC, one of the reasons why Citi Bike in New York City trips rose 67% when the virus emerged. Like bikeshare, shared e-scooters can fill gaps where bus and train service has been cut in response to the virus. Cities including DenverTampa, and San Francisco have classified e-scooter businesses as essential. E-scooters aren’t yet legal in Pennsylvania, but Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure Director Karina Ricks hopes that changes soon, because they could fill gaps created by restricted bus service: “I think they could be a missing link right now between essential workers and the places they need to reach.”

Officials in Portland, Oregon, have provided financial incentives to keep e-scooter service available. On April 6, the city announced a partnership with Spin in which the city will temporarily waive e-scooter daily fees of up to $0.20 per scooter and $0.25 per trip in exchange for Spin reducing the cost of a ride by around 50 percent. Providing a net subsidy — a step we are not aware of any city taking to date — would go still further.

If cities want to keep e-scooters available during the current pandemic, they may need to consider flexible steps like Portland’s to bolster operators’ bottom line. With dwindling cash reserves, e-scooter operators are exiting markets around the world, and there is no timetable for their return. In Minneapolis, Department of Public Works Director Robin Hutcheson says she is “watching carefully and with some hopefulness” that Bird and Lyft will deploy 2,500 e-scooters as planned in her city this spring, but she has received no guarantees.

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5G Small Cell Tower

Trump Requests $2 Trillion Infrastructure Package

If Congress goes along with this, it will far exceed the House of Representatives’ $760 billion infrastructure proposal from January 2020, from which Trump walked away. Green New Deal advocates are already lining up to insure creation of the digital economy. ⁃ TN Editor

President Trump is calling for a $2 trillion infrastructure package as part of the government’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have called for increased infrastructure spending to mitigate the outbreak’s effects, after talks between the White House and Democrats failed in recent years.

It remains to be seen if Congress will be comfortable passing another mammoth spending measure after approving the emergency $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill last week.

President Donald Trump is ready to spend again.

Four days after signing an unprecedented $2 trillion relief bill to blunt the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, the president on Tuesday called for the U.S. to spend another couple trillion bucks on a massive infrastructure package. In a tweet, he wrote that “this is the time” to craft an infrastructure overhaul with U.S. interest rates at zero during the crisis.

“It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4,” the president said, referencing the three pieces of emergency legislation lawmakers have already passed to combat the outbreak rampaging across the U.S.

Trump has long pushed for a proposal to revamp American roads, bridges and airports, and Democratic congressional leaders saw the issue as a key area where they could cooperate with the Republican president when he first took office. But efforts to put together a sprawling infrastructure plan have fallen apart.

Last April, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump and Democrats agreed on the outline of a $2 trillion package. A month later, Trump then walked out of an infrastructure meeting, saying he would not work with Democrats on the issue while they investigated his administration.

Circumstances have changed: The House impeached Trump in December and the Senate acquitted him in February. COVID-19 has shredded the U.S. economy, jammed hospitals and stretched stores of health-care equipment, making federal intervention more appealing across the ideological spectrum.

In interviews this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pushed for infrastructure investment as part of the next phase of the federal response. She wants components related to health care and the digital economy.

Schumer, meanwhile, has pushed for a “Marshall Plan” to strengthen the U.S. public health infrastructure. He has touted emergency funding for hospitals and equipment included in the $2 trillion package signed into law last week.

Republicans — who control the Senate — may not have an appetite for more historic federal action after passing the largest emergency spending measure in U.S. history last week. Spokespeople for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not immediately respond to requests to comment on Trump’s tweet.

At least one Senate Republican cheered Trump’s call for infrastructure improvements — though he did not endorse spending $2 trillion. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., called on Tuesday to pass an existing bipartisan Senate highway bill that is “ready to go.”

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Streetscooter

‘Streetscooter’: First Large Bankruptcy In Electric Mobility

When the Green Economy meets Capitalism, one or the other will die; in this case, the eco-socialists in Germany bit the dust and the first large electric mobility bankruptcy should send a strong message to the rest of the world. ⁃ TN Editor

Manufacturer “Streetscooter”, purchased by Deutsche Post (German Post) in 2014, will be scrapped. The German media of course blame it on “bad management” by the large company.

Which city dweller doesn’t know the small, yellow electric scooters of the German post office that the postmen and women deliver letters and small packages to citizens comfortably and efficiently? Not long ago I received news via Facebook on how the e-delivery-vehicles just barely made it back to the post office, especially in winter, and only when the heating is off.

Now the management of the Swiss Post is also following suit and ending the experiment with delivery street scooters.

The company used to be a small startup, a young dynamic private company in a “sexy” field – just like artificial intelligence or climate protection technology. Deutsche Post bought the company with the benevolent support of the eco-loving press and used it to polish up its otherwise staid image a bit.

However, any PR coup based on electro-chemistry ultimately has to prove itself in everyday life over years. The post office scooters obviously couldn’t. Pushing an electric vehicle still loaded with letters back to the local depot when the battery is empty is not possible: the scooter is too big and heavy for that. Or you have to plan shorter routes (in winter), which reduces efficiency. Since letters are only delivered during the day, the scooters can be conveniently charged at night. But if you have to reload during working hours, it takes hours, and you don’t have the time for that.

Take, for example, the Berlin E-bus experiment: the lithium buses run from 8 to 12 a.m., then the diesel vehicles take over. Our speaker Prof. Alt talks in this context about a double infrastructure, which is of course also roughly twice as expensive. Presumably Deutsche Post had to manage a similarly inefficient double fleet of about 13,000 street scooters. The scooters broke down more often and then soon had to be repaired, and replaced by diesel-powered delivery vans.

A commentator from ntv television, however, blames it on the slow management of Deutsche Post: A project like an electric fleet of electric cars has to be run by flexible start-up managers with heart and attitude, then it would work.

The Streetscooter deserved a dynamic, creative and risk-taking management – and the opportunity to obtain the necessary funds independently on the capital market.

This claim is not convincing. Whether it’s a startup or the Deutsche Post, both must adhere to the main laws of physics and economics. One thing must never be forgotten: Deutsche Post is a business group that has to make money.

The city administration of Berlin, on the other hand, can waste money at will with misguided planning. They work with funds from taxes levied by force. And Berlin’s eco-socialist politicians, who are poor in arithmetic, are elected and are not held accountable for their failures with their own private assets.

Of course some will claim that Tesla has achieved what the N-TV quote above calls for. But this is not true: Elon Musk is an eco-media darling who has already received billions of dollars in US subsidies. Without these billions he would have long since gone bankrupt or become a mini-manufacturer for a niche.

We Germans are now experiencing the same thing in Brandenburg: because Merkel’s “grand coalition” wants to have a share in the media sexiness of Tesla, the “Gigafactory” is being heavily subsidized there.

The fact that an entire forest is being cut down and cheaper Polish workers have to be hired is of no consequence to someone like Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier. The press as well.

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Are Automakers Are Coming For Your AM/FM Radio?

With 250 million people tuning in daily to predominantly conservative AM/FM radio, the thought of removing the medium is inconceivable. To Technocrat social engineers, however, it is perfectly logical and efficient and is a direct way to silence conservative opinion. ⁃ TN Editor

A new car without a radio?

t sounds as unthinkable as a new car without floor mats or a heater. But there is a real danger that your next new car might come without an AM/FM receiver.

Or, might cost you extra.

Seriously.

As unthinkable as it sounds – and as undesirable as it would be (based on known consumer preferences; more on that in a minute) there is chatter in Detroit that the car industry is giving thought to retiring the AM/FM receiver in favor of music piped into the car via subscription-based satellite radio, iPods, smartphones and various mobile apps.

Rather than these technologies supplementing AM/FM radio – as they do right now – they would replace it.

Leaving you in the dark. Well, in the quiet.

Unless you opened up your wallet and paid for the satellite radio hook-up.

Think of it as in-car audio on the cable TV model. Which you’d have no choice but to pony up for if the manufacturers stopped including AM/FM receivers in their new cars. You can imagine the effect this would have on the monthly subscription cost of SiriusXM and so on, since they’d have everyone over the proverbial barrel.

Hold onto your wallet!

As things stand, SiriusXM has to compete with free radio, which keeps prices low – and also probably keeps programming more varied. If AM/FM went away, with it would go thousands of smaller channels, the source waters for many of the Big Names in major outlet media we’re all familiar with today… before they became Big Names. (This includes, by the way, this writer – who is a frequent guest on regional/local AM/FM radio stations across the country.)

And no matter how much you spent, you’d still be unable to listen to your local stations.

Satellite radio is great for national news – and a steady stream of ’70s hits, if that’s your thing. But if you want to hear local people discuss local issues… get local news, local sports, hear local broadcast personalities… well, there isn’t an app for that.

It’s not surprising, given all this, that most prospective car buyers are not interested in throwing AM/FM radio in the woods – so to speak – and being effectively forced to buy into fee-for-service audio, such as SiriusXM.

How many is “most”?

Well, consider that almost 250 million Americans tune into terrestrial radio each week, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau (see here) and a Feb. 15 IPSOS study (here) of people’s listening habits and preferences found that 84 percent still regularly listen to AM/FM. Only about a fourth (22 percent) of current car owners have Sirius/XM – and they use it in addition to their AM/FM receiver.

Fully 91 percent of those asked about it wanted the traditional radio with knobs and buttons; only 9 percent wanted that to go away in favor of an “app.”

People like satellite, HD, Pandora… but they don’t want to be restricted to those options – which typically require them to pay for a service or buy an electronic device (such as an iPad) they may not wish to carry around. They want more options, not fewer options. They want to be able to go from one source to another – not be pigeonholed into using one platform.

Another factor is that while satellite radio offers a wealth of programming, it is not the same programming as that offered – for free – by AM/FM. Sure, there are commercials on AM/FM radio – but notwithstanding what you may have heard, exactly the same thing is true of satellite radio. Most of the talk/news channels – such as the Howard Stern Show, CNN and Blue Collar Radio do in fact have commercials. Which you’re paying to hear.

There may be commercials on AM/FM, but they’re free.

No cost to you, at any rate. Advertisers hope you’ll listen to their pitches, but they can’t put their hands into your pockets.

Also, while FM/AM coverage may be regional, satellite reception is often spotty. If you live in the country or a mountainous area with lots of tree overhang, you may have noticed – if you have Sirius/XM – that the signal sometimes (and sometimes, often) cuts out for as long as 15-30 seconds at a time or even longer. You miss the programming – and the signal come back on just in time for the next 10 minute batch of commercials.      

So, it’s odd to hear these whispers (and more) within the car industry about “the end” of terrestrial radio.

It’s still hugely popular – for several very good reasons. This isn’t an 8-track tape kind of situation. Apps, ipods and satellite radio are valuable additions to our menu of audio options. But AM/FM provides its own unique content, and in a way that people still very much want.

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Uber

Uber, Lyft Cause More Congestion And Pollution In Cities

Ride sharing companies were the darling children of Sustainable Development and Smart City policies to ‘save the world’, but they have done just the opposite: increase pollution and traffic congestion. ⁃ TN Editor

It’s a simple fact that ridesharing adds to traffic congestion, but solving the issue is less black and white. Part of the challenge lies in the fact that policymakers have tied their own hands when it comes to regulation.

Uber and Lyft owe their great popularity to customer-friendly features such as short waiting times, low fares and the convenience of hailing a cab and paying by smartphone.

But with these virtues come multiple drawbacks, which state and local officials are struggling to deal with.

Recent studies have found that when Uber and Lyft enter a market, their fleets are more polluting than autos on average, contribute to more traffic congestion particularly in the central cities, undermine public transit systems and devastate the local taxi industry. The ride-hailing firms say that some studies have come to opposite conclusions or that those impacts are outweighed by the advantages they bring to local transportation markets.

Yet government regulators have been hard-pressed to combat these problems, partially because they’ve tied their own hands.

“We’ve let them do what they want,” Paul Koretz, a Los Angeles councilman who has been concerned about the firms’ effect on taxi services, told me.

The issue is especially acute in California, where the Public Utilities Commission took the initiative in 2013 of carving out a separate regulatory regime for the ride-hailing industry, categorized as “transportation network companies.”

That forestalled local initiatives to equalize ride-hailing regulations with those of taxis. Cabdrivers are generally subject to more stringent background checks and vehicle inspections than ride-hailing drivers.

But the PUC has had difficulty overseeing the new industry, as commission President Michael Picker, who took office after the PUC’s action, later acknowledged, calling ride-hail regulation not “something we can do effectively.”

Let’s take a look at the key impacts confronting state and local officials when Uber, Lyft and other such services come into their markets.

Start with congestion. A study by Gregory D. Erhardt and colleagues at the University of Kentucky in conjunction with the city of San Francisco found that average speed within the city decreased to 22.2 miles per hour in 2016 from 25.6 mph in 2010, and that “vehicle hours of delay” increased by 63% in that period.

Although there were myriad contributors to the change, including population and employment growth, the researchers blamed it chiefly on the entry of the ride-sharing firms. The worst increase in congestion occurred in the central business district, where Uber, Lyft and other services were prevalent.

Most trips on those services “are adding new cars to the road,” they found. Most ride-hail drivers, moreover, lived outside San Francisco, so their commute into the city was another factor.

A similar trend showed up in New York City, where Uber, Lyft and other app-based services added 50,000 vehicles to the roads, according to a study by transportation consultant Bruce Schaller.

The arrival of ride-hailing services in a city is generally accompanied by a decline in mass transit. Studies of public transit ridership in major cities published last year by Erhardt’s team concluded that once the services arrive in a market, rail ridership declines by an average of 1.3% and bus ridership by 1.7%.

The effect “builds with each passing year,” the researchers found, to the point where even significant expansion of transit systems isn’t enough to reverse the decline; after eight years, transit systems would have to expand service by 25% just to keep ridership from falling. “Transit agencies are fighting an uphill battle,” they wrote.

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E-Scooters Still Being Pushed Despite Urban Dweller Resistance

E-scooters and ride sharing were supposed to help save the planet from global warming. In spite of the fact that both are proving to be ecological disasters, proponents just keep on pushing them anyway.  ⁃ TN Editor

When they first appeared on the sidewalks of American cities in the fall of 2017 and spring 2018, rentable electric scooters felt as though they’d popped up out of nowhere—in part because they basically had. In cities like Santa Monica, California, and Austin, Texas, startups such as Bird and Lime didn’t ask local officials for permission before planting fleets of e-scooters, figuring that the shared vehicles would prove enough of a hit that cities would accept them. They generally were, and so by last year even more e-scooters, in even more towns, appeared with the dawn of spring. By now, e-scooters are an entrenched feature of urban life in many cities—but the wild-bloom era is ending.

Cities know that shared e-scooter ridership rises with the thermometer—in many northern cities, the devices are pulled during winter—but this year they’ll be even more prepared. Across the continent, local transportation officials have rejiggered their regulations for 2020, incorporating insights gleaned from recent pilot projects. As a result, the experience of riding an e-scooter—and the business of operating a fleet of them—will be different, and likely improved, in many cities. It should, in theory, be a lot easier to find a scooter when you want one. But your favorite brand might be missing, because of a culling of e-scooter operators that has already begun. That culling will throttle the industry, allowing some companies a greater presence in some markets, but preventing many from attaining national dominance.

While ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are now mostly regulated at the state level, cities remain in charge of overseeing e-scooters. After being caught off-guard by their explosive emergence two years ago, cities from San Francisco to Arlington, Virginia, oversaw limited e-scooter programs in 2019 and surveyed riders afterward to see what happened. Their findings generally supported the theory that e-scooters can provide an alternative to automobile trips, especially shorter ones. In Chicago, a survey of e-scooter riders suggested that almost two-thirds of e-scooter trips would have otherwise been taken by car, taxi, or ride hail. In Minneapolis, the city’s Department of Public Works ran a similar survey, concluding that 55 percent of e-scooter trips replaced one of those three options.

Encouraged by such findings, many cities are now moving to loosen their caps on devices. This year the number of permitted e-scooters in D.C. will grow from 5,235 to at least 10,000, and in San Francisco from 2,500 to at least 4,000. Jamie Parks, the livable streets director for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, says his agency’s pilot in 2019 bore out the car replacement theory. “We found over 40 percent of e-scooter trips were displacing single-occupancy vehicle trips,” he told me.

With more e-scooters on the street, it should be easier for riders to find an available one nearby. That should boost overall e-scooter ridership, taking cars off the street and almost certainly improving the bottom line of operators, which are under pressure to show strong financials after having raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital to subsidize their rapid expansion into new markets. Providing more trips in a city allows e-scooter companies to spread out fixed costs (such as research and development and marketing). Kyle Rowe, Spin’s head of local government partnerships, says that managing a larger e-scooter fleet enables his company to invest more in low-income programming and safety education programs.

Simply increasing the number of scooters attached to a permit is all gravy for the operators, but there is a wrinkle: Even as cities expand the total number of permitted devices, many are getting ready to shrink the number of operator licenses they give out. That makes the value of a permit even higher, since more vehicles are allowed with each one, but it also means more companies will be shut out.

In D.C. the number of permitted e-scooter companies will fall from eight last year to four this spring. Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian says his agency wants to improve the user experience for scooter riders: “I know people who like e-scooters, but they don’t like having to jump between apps. So we’re trying to help you have more availability, and less headache finding e-scooters.” He expects residents will benefit from less congestion, as only half as many operators will be driving through the city to collect and redeploy their fleets. He also believes his agency can better monitor fewer operators, using automatically reported data to ensure they comply with rules around vehicle parking and equitable deployment. That could reduce common complaints about e-scooters, such as devices blocking sidewalk paths.

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Data Drives Autonomous Control For Sustainable Living

Hexagon speaks of an autonomous future where everything is reduced to automated processes and data-driven lifestyle choices. Oh, not your choices however, but rather the system will determine what’s best for you and then make sure you comply. ⁃ TN Editor

The combination of data capture, data intelligence and data leverage is the foundation for a more efficient, productive and sustainable future using fewer resources and creating less waste.

Automation has certainly increased efficiency and productivity, but machines with only fixed, automated functions are not capable of dealing with changing real-world situations. In the autonomous future we are empowering, tasks, work processes, entire operations and industries will be able to adapt intelligently and autonomously. Smart, ecosystem-wide solutions will dwarf the impact of recent disruptions like Internet of Things and Big Data.
Increased connectivity through 5G will accelerate our ability to capture and process data. This is powerful, but we need the ability to leverage this data autonomously. Otherwise, we will be incapable of keeping up with the increasing gap between the amount of data being created and that being put to use.

Driving digitalization, innovation

Hexagon is a global leader in sensors, software and autonomous solutions that are driving digitalization in the geospatial industry. So, it’s incumbent upon us to continue developing technologies that push the boundaries of what is possible. We are committed to further innovation in reality capture, analysis and visualization that will put data to work for better results, no matter the application — from construction sites, infrastructure projects to entire cities.

Innovation is a pillar of Hexagon’s business model, and we will continue to invest heavily in R&D as we have for decades. In the past few years, 10-12% of our revenue has been reinvested in research and development. We have nearly 4,000 patents registered to our business units and have nearly 4,000 employees in R&D across the world.
We are committed to empowering an autonomous future where humanity can thrive sustainably. That means investing in today with a vision for a better tomorrow. That also means looking at innovative technologies that will help our customers perform well, while having minimal impact on the environment. We believe that these two things go hand in hand — by putting data to work to help our customers boost efficiency, productivity and quality across any application, we will do good for the planet as well.

Customer in mind

In today’s day and age, companies can simultaneously ensure innovation and privacy. Truly innovative and transformative companies always have the user and customer in mind, so these two concepts are inextricably tied to each other. To suggest that innovation can be achieved without considering privacy would be to suggest such innovation is achieved by deceiving the user or customer in some way. To me, that is not innovative.

I think a company can gain its user/customer’s trust by providing solutions that put data to work in a way that clearly supports sustainable growth — both economically and environmentally. We hear a lot about advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, edge computing, mobility and interoperable systems, and the promise they have to solve many of our problems. The challenge is delivering on these promises, but those that do — and do so through transparent and ethical business practices — will earn the trust of the industry.

Anticipating challenges

Trade tensions and other geopolitical factors undoubtedly are affecting how the industry approaches strategy and planning. Unfortunately, it is unknown at the moment how much these factors will positively or negatively impact the economy. We must continue to plan, knowing uncertainty is on the horizon. Fortunately, that is how we conduct business every day, no matter the situation. Our mission to empower an autonomous future that sees humanity thriving sustainably will continue to guide everything we do at Hexagon.

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California Declares Ham Radio Obsolete, Demands Repeater Infrastructure To Be Removed

Technocrats in California are driven to destroy infrastructure, culture and society in general. Killing the ubiquitous and immensely useful ham radio network used for hobby and emergency situations, is patently insane – unless you are a Technocrat. ⁃ TN Editor

The People’s Republic of California is at it again! Reports are coming in that through unelected state officials, California is trying to sever ties to ham radio repeater owners throughout the state, jeopardizing the lives of millions of Californians who depend on these repeaters to operate during emergencies.

Last month, repeater operators were sent emails telling them the State would no longer allow them to operate repeaters on public land without paying substantial rental fees. In the letter sent by CAL FIRE, the state claims Ham operators no longer provide a benefit to the state or public safety. They claimed that “constantly changing technological advances” has made Ham radio obsolete during an emergency.

Keep in mind; this was done while the state was shutting power down in 34 of its counties because its infrastructure cannot handle 20-30 mph winds without risking wildfire breakouts throughout the state.

What is a Ham Radio Repeater

An amateur radio repeater system is a two-way radio system that takes weaker or low-level amateur radio signals and retransmits them at a higher level or higher power so that the radio signal can cover longer distances without degradation. It is a vital part of the local emergency communications system, and Ham Radio operators have been using them for decades to provide support during disasters that take out local communication infrastructure.

Why would they remove something that is the last line of defense during a disaster?

What is infuriating here is people are going to die because of this decision. It costs the State of California nothing to allow these repeaters on public land; in fact, Ham Radio Operators pay for the equipment and maintain the equipment at their own cost. Ham Radio operators also make nothing from running these radio repeaters; they do so as a service to the public to help ensure the public’s safety during natural disasters and emergencies.

While paying billions of dollars a year to cater to illegal immigrants and welfare bums, California is now targeting hard-working Ham operators who provide critical and vital Disaster Emergency Communications. These people have absolutely lost their minds!

Even most Hams haven’t taken notice, but in 2012 the federal government launched FirstNet, a public safety nationwide broadband network that many in the government think will make Ham radio operators obsolete. In reality, its nothing more than a $47 Billion Federal Cell Phone Network that itself is already obsolete. In fact, it needs LOTS of infrastructure to function, and it creates multiple, single points of failure.

The real story here is Ham Radio is a threat to the government. We make them look stupid! They spend billions on infrastructure that breaks down, while we can literally take a hundred bucks in equipment, some random wires, and in minutes set up a radio system that can communicate with anyone in the world. Hell, I’ve used my kid’s slinky, some Television Coax Cable, and a solar battery system to build a mobile rig that I’ve used to talk to people around the world — You can check out the Radio Rig Here.

They don’t want the public to realize that we can take care of ourselves, and do a much better and cheaper job doing so!

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