There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about saving money, and restaurants wouldn’t pay Groupon lots of money for the privilege of using its service if they didn’t want lots of people to come in and claim a discount. But still, it’s undeniable: there’s a faint whiff of cheap associated with any coupon, to the point at which some restaurants are implementing built-in gratuities to try to stop people from tipping on the discounted amount. And I have friends who are adamant that they’ll never use a groupon or anything like it, for fear of the perceived stigma involved.
Emily Badger’s article on slugging in DC is a really fantastic piece of reporting. She doesn’t just explain not only the interesting phenomenon of people giving lifts to strangers so that they can drive in HOV lanes, she also puts it in its proper broader context, complete with useful hyperlinks:
New York taxis are a textbook example of gains going to capital rather than to labor. They’re generally owned by one person — the person with the capital — and driven by another — the person with the labor. And the person with the capital has made out very well of late. When the stock market peaked in October 2007, medallions were trading at $425,000 apiece. (All data from this page.) By the time the market had plunged by more than half in February 2009, medallions had risen in value to $552,000. And they’ve only gone up in value since: in December 2010, the average medallion changed hands for $624,000; last Wednesday, a new all-time record was set for a corporate medallion which sold for $880,000.
In cases like that of the Chicago parking meters, I have a certain amount of sympathy for the privatization argument. But New Jersey Transit parking spaces aren’t Chicago parking meters, and so I’m entirely in agreement with Yonah Freemark that privatizing NJ Transit’s parking lots is a very bad idea.
Mark Perry is convinced that the recent uptick in vehicle miles is a good sign, economically speaking; Calculated Risk is not as convinced. Both, however, are working on the assumption that vehicle miles are an excellent proxy for economic activity as a whole, and that the more they rise, the better the economy is doing.
Many thanks to Joe Nocera for raising the issue of One World Trade Center’s finances. It’s by far the tallest and most expensive building that New York has ever seen, and it’s no thing of beauty, either. Plus, there’s not nearly enough demand for new top-grade office space to justify building so much of it at this location and at this time. So what exactly is the Port Authority thinking?