Sunday, June 03, 2018

The real reasons Amazon didn't shortlist Houston for HQ2, urbanism doesn't reduce transportation costs, your TX right to AirBnB, and more

I'd like to open my post this week on Houston's hand-wringing over not being shortlisted for the Amazon HQ2. Now while I'm all for improving the city, and am excited about the new developments in the "innovation corridor" that might have been at least partially sparked by the rejection, we need to get some clarity on the real reasons Amazon didn't shortlist us (IMHO), and it's not because we're not good enough:
  1. They don't want to compete with the energy industry for talent, especially when oil might spike to unknown highs at any time.  At the end of the day, Amazon runs a pretty thin-margin business built on tech talent, and if the energy companies poach their talent whenever they're swiming in cash from high oil prices - or make them pay that talent more to keep them - it will destroy those margins. Not an option.
  2. They didn't want to be seen as squeezing Houston for incentives while it's recovering from Harvey. That would definitely look very, very bad from a PR perspective.
As I've mentioned before, I ultimately think they're angling to end up in the DC area, mainly because there is a plentiful supply of underpaid and demotivated government tech talent there they can easily poach.

Moving on to this week's items:
"Perhaps the paper’s significance was best summed up by Smart’s mother, who was apparently unfazed by its somewhat surprising conclusion. “She was like, ‘Of course,’” Smart recalled. “’Everyone loves cars. It doesn’t matter where you live.’”
"The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances.  Automobiles have far greater and more flexible passenger- and cargo-carrying capacities than transit. They allow direct, point-to-point service, unlike transit. They allow self-scheduling rather than requiring advance planning. They save time, especially time spent waiting, which surveys find transit riders find far more onerous. They have far better multi-stop trip capability. They offer a safer, more comfortable, more controllable environment, from the seats to the temperature to the music to the company.
The superiority of automobiles doesn’t stop at the obvious, either. They expand workers’ access to jobs and educational opportunities, increase productivity and incomes, improve purchasing choices, lower consumer prices and widen social options. Trying to inconvenience people out of their cars also undermines those major benefits.

Cars’ allow decreased commuting times if not hamstrung, providing workers access to far more potential jobs and training possibilities. That improves worker-employer matches, with expanded productivity raising workers’ incomes as well as benefiting employers. One study found that 10 percent faster travel raised worker productivity by 3 percent, and increasing from 3 mph walking speed to 30 mph driving is a 900 percent increase. In a similar vein, a Harvard analysis found that for those lacking high-school diplomas, owning a car increased monthly earnings by $1,100.
As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”

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At 3:50 PM, June 07, 2018, Blogger James said...

The conclusions of that study are not as broad as some are making them out to be.

At 5:16 PM, June 10, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

Hong Kong:

At 5:17 PM, June 10, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

Hong Kong

At 12:53 PM, June 13, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

An independent Texas would force the US to institute major tax and spending reforms.


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