Wandering Eye: The war over Uber in Maryland, psychos in the board room, and the U.S. News & World Report college rankings

Sometime CP contributor Andrew Zaleski has an interesting take in Politico on Uber's fight with the Maryland Public Service Commission—the only one (so far) that has ruled the ride-sharing company to be a livery provider subject to applicable regulations. This is a battle with real consequences for people who take taxies—and their drivers—in just about every state, and Zaleski breaks it down into an easily digested meal. He shows you what "big taxi" is, Uber's salutary effect on cab pricing, and the hypocrisy at the core of both the incumbent taxi industry and the "sharing economy" con: "And if Uber succeeds in pulling Maryland and other resistant states and cities over to its side? It might consider thanking the taxi industry. In the 1970s and 1980s, when cab companies across the United States began converting their workers from full-time employees with salaries and benefits to independent contractors who were paid out of their fares, they created a blueprint for how to maximize profits: Flood the streets with drivers. Give anyone the tools to be their own micro-entrepreneurs. Glorify the art of the hustle. Take the company's cut. Protect your piece of the industry. And when the competition gets in the way, be prepared to wage war." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Science Daily is highlighting research that confirms suspicions many have long held: that, as the headline explains, "there could be increased numbers of psychopaths in senior managerial positions" and at "high levels of business." These are intelligent, manipulative, charming psychopaths who can fake their emotional responses so that, despite suffering from a severe empathy deficit, they test quite normal. Think Christian Bale's gruesomely violent character in "American Psycho," but without the dismemberments. "Perhaps businesses do need people who have the same characteristics as psychopaths, such as ruthlessness," the researcher Carolyn Bate, is quoted as saying. "But I suspect that some form of screening does need to take place, mainly so businesses are aware of what sort of people they are hiring." More likely, though, businesses will run from the prospect of trying to identify the psychopaths in their midst, since knowing who they are would require either terminating their highly successful employment or facing possible litigation for not getting rid of them before they cause the next stock-market crash. (Van Smith)

 

As high schoolers start the mind-numbing process of applying for college, one of the resources that many of them will probably turn to is the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the 2015 edition of which was released this morning. Universities take the rankings very seriously, too—when I worked as a telefund caller for my alma mater, callers would use the rankings as a way to try to convince alumni to donate, because the alumni giving rate is one of the criteria that the rankings use. But U.S. News' methodology for its rankings is far from perfect, and has been called into question repeatedly. There is, for instance, the fact that "financial resources" counts for 10 percent of the ranking calculation, which means that well-endowed schools—such as the old Ivies—will always have a leg up over younger schools or public schools. Student-faculty ratio is a factor, but U.S. News doesn't acknowledge how many of those faculty are adjunct positions, which education columnist Rebecca Schuman argues should be included, given the growing adjunctification of faculty. And despite the requests of a bipartisan group of Congressional representatives, U.S. News refuses to include campus safety statistics as a factor in its rankings. But questionable methodology of the rankings aside, people will probably still care to know that Johns Hopkins was ranked No. 12 in national universities and that UMBC was ranked No. 1 in up-and-coming schools. (Anna Walsh)

Copyright © 2018, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy
73°