Binyamin Appelbaum | Overconfident Regulators Caused the Ticketmaster Mess – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

“Before the federal government let Live Nation merge with Ticketmaster in 2010, it obtained some very solemn promises that the company would not use its newly acquired dominance in the business of selling tickets to take advantage of customers.

Ask a Taylor Swift fan how well that has worked out.

Ticketmaster’s website was overwhelmed last week by people seeking tickets for Ms. Swift’s upcoming concert tour. It was inevitable that most people who wanted tickets wouldn’t be able to buy them. There aren’t enough to go around. But crashes, bugs and error messages left many people feeling they never really had a chance.

Monopolies raise prices, but that’s not the only reason Americans should be worried about the rise of corporate concentration. Companies with market power also tend to get lazy. They stop trying to deliver the best possible product. Jonathan Skrmetti, the Republican attorney general of Tennessee, told The Washington Post that Ticketmaster’s customer service problems raised the question of whether “because they have such a dominant market position, they felt like they didn’t have to worry about that.”

That’s an important question, and it raises another one: Why do antitrust regulators keep getting tricked by companies that don’t keep their promises?”

Elon Musk Puts His Own Politics on Display on Election Day – The New York Times

Elon Musk put himself and his politics center stage on Twitter on Election Day.

“The world’s richest man began his day on Tuesday by tweeting to his 115 million followers that they should vote Republican in the midterm elections. He said he was not being motivated by criticism that he has faced from Democrats over his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, which he completed last month, along with his other business dealings.

“While it’s true that I’ve been under unfair & misleading attack for some time by leading Democrats, my motivation here is for centrist governance, which matches the interests of most Americans,” Mr. Musk said.”

David Lindsay:  This is upsetting. I have been saving up to buy a new Tesla next year.  Now, I will be shopping for one of its new competitors. Trumpsters who insist that the last presidential election was stolen, with no evidence,  are conspiracy theory mongereres who do not bring balance to the democracy, they threaten its health, possibly its survival.

E.V.s Start With a Bigger Carbon Footprint. But That Doesn’t Last. – The New York Times

“. . . . To determine the environmental costs of the trade-off, trade organizations and universities have conducted life cycle analyses, or L.C.A.s: comparisons between the amount of greenhouse gases created from the production, use and disposal of a B.E.V. and the gases from a gasoline-powered vehicle of a similar size.

The good news: Studies have found that, though it’s true that the production of a B.E.V. causes more pollution than a gasoline-powered counterpart, this greenhouse-gas emission difference is erased as the vehicle is driven.

And erasing the difference does not appear to take very long. In a study conducted by the University of Michigan (with a grant from the Ford Motor Company), the pollution equation evens out between 1.4 to 1.5 years for sedans, 1.6 to 1.9 years for S.U.V.s and about 1.6 years for pickup trucks, based on the average number of vehicle miles traveled in the United States.

The study found that, on average, emissions from B.E.V. sedans were 35 percent of the emissions from an internal-combustion sedan. Electric S.U.V.s produced 37 percent of the emissions of a gasoline-powered counterpart, and a B.E.V. pickup created 34 percent of the emissions of an internal combustion model. (Because gasoline-powered pickups consume more fuel than smaller vehicles, switching to a battery electric pickup results in a greater reduction in emissions.)

These results vary, based on how much greenhouse gas is created through the production of the electricity needed to charge a battery. The greater the use of renewable sources — such as wind, solar, nuclear and hydropower — the greater the reduction in emissions.”

How the New Climate Law Can Save You Thousands of Dollars – Coral Davenport – The New York Times

“The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Biden in August includes about $370 billion to fight climate change, some of it in the form of tax credits and rebates to help consumers save thousands of dollars on energy-efficient appliances, plug-in vehicles and renewable electricity for their homes.

But taking advantage of those savings will require patience and initiative.

The Biden administration has created a website designed to help you figure out which cars, appliances and home improvements will qualify for the tax credits and rebates. The answers are not yet clear in many cases because the programs are so new or the requirements of the law so stringent. White House officials say the website will be frequently updated as details take shape, and they advise consumers to subscribe to receive emailed updates.

Here’s what we know so far about how to use the new law to save money. One thing all the benefits have in common: Each one runs through at least 2032.”

New electric cars parked under photovoltaic systems at a parking lot in Jinzhong.

From NYT article, see previous post.

“New electric cars parked under photovoltaic systems at a parking lot in Jinzhong. China has one of the fastest-growing E.V. markets, with sales expected to double this year to about six million vehicles.Credit…Visual China Group via Getty Images”

David Lindsay: We are cutting down forests to put up solar farms, when we could be doing this to parking lots all over the country!!!

Source: (20+) David Lindsay | Facebook

For China’s Auto Market, Electric Isn’t the Future. It’s the Present. Electric Isn’t the Future. It’s the Present – The New York Times

“Zhang Youping, a Chinese retiree, purchased an all-electric, small sport-utility vehicle from BYD — China’s largest electric vehicle maker — at an auto show for around $20,000 last month. Her family has bought three gas-powered cars in the last decade, but she recently grew concerned about gas prices and decided to go electric “to save money.” A few months earlier, her son had also bought an E.V. It was a $10,000 hatchback from Leapmotor, another Chinese manufacturer.

This year, a quarter of all new cars purchased in China will be an all-electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid. There are, by some estimates, more than 300 Chinese companies making E.V.s, ranging from discount offerings below $5,000 to high-end models that rival Tesla and German automakers. There are roughly four million charging units in the country, double the number from a year ago, with more coming.

While other E.V. markets are still heavily dependent on subsidies and financial incentives, China has entered a new phase: Consumers are weighing the merits of electric vehicles against gas-powered cars based on features and price without much consideration of state support. By comparison, the United States is far behind. This year, the country passed a key threshold of E.V.s accounting for 5 percent of new car sales. China passed that level in 2018.”

Railroads’ Strategy Thrilled Wall Street, but Not Customers and Workers – The New York Times

“America’s first commercial railroads were built almost two centuries ago. Freight rail has been a symbol of the nation’s economic might and ingenuity ever since.

In recent years, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have made significant investments in railroads, reaping big stock gains as railroads reported higher profits. But the underlying strategies that strengthened railroads’ bottom lines have caused friction with customers, regulators and particularly workers — giving rise to a contract dispute that threatened a nationwide shutdown of the railway system.

After losing ground to trucking in the mid-20th century, the rail industry managed to recover through decades of consolidation and a push for efficiency. Critics say those same dynamics created a system with thin staffing and minimal competition, making it particularly vulnerable to shocks like the coronavirus pandemic.”

Edward Niedermeyer | We Can’t Just Throw Bigger Batteries at Electric Vehicles – The New York Times

“. . . . Compared to the herculean task of building supply chains to sustain a broad domestic E.V. market, tackling this problem from the demand side almost seems easy. Proving that E.V.s can road trip may have been an important psychological hurdle for the technology to tackle, but it remains more psychological than real: the average American motorist drives about 40 miles per day and 95 percent of our car trips are 30 miles or shorter.

We haven’t so much overcome this psychological hurdle as thrown big batteries at it, which is having a paradoxical (if predictable) effect of actually entrenching it. Despite dramatic growth in median E.V. range, to 234 miles in 2021 from 90 miles in 2015, consumer demand for range is always one step ahead. Three hundred miles might have been a desirable figure for potential E.V. buyers in 2019, but come 2021 it was 341 miles, according to findings from Cox Automotive. We could cater endlessly to this desire for more range without ever satiating it: More is always more, but more is also never enough.

As much as these psychological challenges are born of American geography, history and mythology, they are also born of the unique attributes of gasoline. Rather than holding E.V. adoption hostage to our ability to make batteries match internal combustion in every way, government policy should focus on the cases where E.V.s have advantages that internal combustion will never match: waking up every morning with a full “tank” sufficient for daily commuting and errands.

By improving home charging for urban apartment dwellers and prioritizing vehicles with smaller batteries, rather than road-trip-enabling charging stations and big batteries, we could maximize the miles we can affordably electrify. In an era of battery scarcity, we could have two 150-mile E.V.s for the battery capacity in every 300-mile E.V. Or, using the same 300-mile E.V. battery, you could have six plug-in hybrids with 50 miles of electric range for daily driving and a gasoline engine for those rarer road trips or many, many more e-bikes.”

Review: ‘All the Living and the Dead,’ by Hayley Campbell – The New York Times

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ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work, by Hayley Campbell


“Conceptually, death is mere tragedy. But in reality, it also comes with a particular pain many people are unequipped for: the scourge of logistics and bureaucracy. There are documents to fill, possessions to ship, professionals to hire, ceremonies to organize. Many of us prefer not to think about the mundane details of death, and entire industries exist to help people in avoiding those procedural needs, waiting out of sight until called upon, then springing into action to help protect the living from encountering the dead.

“By living in this manufactured state of denial, in the borderlands between innocence and ignorance, are we nurturing a fear that reality doesn’t warrant?” Hayley Campbell asks in her new book, “All the Living and the Dead.” “I wanted unromantic, unpoetic, unsanitized visions of death. I wanted the naked, banal reality of this thing that will come to us all.” “

 Alex Kingsbury | Who Is Financing Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ Caucus? Corporations You Know. – The New York Times

Mr. Kingsbury is a member of the editorial board.

“Immediately after the Jan. 6 attack, hundreds of corporations announced freezes on donating money to Republican lawmakers who had voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory. “Given recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria,” a spokesperson for Toyota said a week after the attack.

For many corporations, that pause was short-lived.

“By April 1, 2021, Toyota had donated $62,000 to 39 Republican objectors,” the journalist Judd Legum wrote in his newsletter, Popular Information. That included a donation of $1,000 that Toyota gave to Representative Andy Biggs, a Republican from Arizona who is a close ally of Donald Trump and a fervent devotee of the “big lie.”

In July 2021, Toyota reversed course and announced another hiatus from donating to lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results. Six months later, the money started to flow again. The company, in a statement to The Times, said it donates equally to both parties and “will not support those who, by their words and actions, create an atmosphere that incites violence.” (Corporations aren’t allowed to give directly to campaigns but instead form political action committees that donate in the name of the company.)”

“. . . . In the year and a half since the attack, rivers of cash from once skittish donors have resumed flowing to election deniers. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes just a thousand. But it adds up. In the month of April alone, the last month for which data is available, Fortune 500 companies and trade organizations gave more than $1.4 million to members of Congress who voted not to certify the election results, according to an analysis by the transparency group Accountable.US. AT&T led the pack, giving $95,000 to election objectors.”

“. . . . All told, as of this week, corporations and industry groups gave almost $32 million to the House and Senate members who voted to overturn the election and to the G.O.P. committees focused on the party’s congressional campaigns. The top 10 companies that gave money to those members, according to CREW’s analysis of campaign finance disclosures, are Koch Industries, Boeing, Home Depot, Valero Energy, Lockheed Martin, UPS, Raytheon, Marathon Petroleum, General Motors and FedEx. All of those companies, with the exception of Koch Industries and FedEx, once said they’d refrain from donating to politicians who voted to reject the election results.

Of the 249 companies that promised not to fund the 147 senators and representatives who voted against any of the results, fewer than half have stuck to their promise, according to CREW.

Kudos aplenty to the 85 corporations that stuck to their guns and still refuse to fund the seditious, including Nike, PepsiCo, Lyft, Cisco, Prudential, Marriott, Target and Zillow. That’s what responsible corporate citizenship looks like. It’s also patriotic.”