Via Naked Capitalism

Yves here. Funny how the zeitgeist has changed. The fact that today is Pearl Harbor Day was more widely remembered when I started blogging than now. Of course, one contributor is the last World War II vets are dying. One I knew personally who was 95 who was a Battle of the Bulge survivor passed away about a month ago. He led a local Battle of the Bulge group that met about monthly for World War II vets and other interested people.

Separately, I feel compelled to hoist a comment of mine that took issue with a reader yesterday who tried to depict those who were appalled at Uber’s reported sexual assault level as innumerate. This is already a straw manning-argument, since most of the articles seemed to express concern at what looked to be a high absolute number, and as I’ll demonstrate soon, it looks to be a high number relative to the incidence at regulated car services.

I’ve reworked the comment a bit to make it more accessible as a stand-alone piece:

Don’t try “innumeracy” here. Let’s start with the fact that total rides isn’t the relevant basis for computing the risk of being raped, since you don’t have the population at risk and in particular, solo rides by women at night (rapes of men are only about 9% of total rapes in the US) who were presumably sleeping in the back seat (driver has to stop the car and get in the back seat to have any physical contact). Oh, and remember that the biggest economic group per Hubert Horan taking cab is actually low earners taking cabs back from jobs at night…who are probably less likely to say anything due to legitimate concern of not being believed as a lower-class person.

But let’s play your game. Using gross figures, you are still more than three times as likely to be assaulted in an Uber than in a regulated cab in NYC, Uber’s biggest single market.

From my comment further down:

In NYC, the latest data I could find is that there were 14 rapes in 2016 in cabs and 10 in 2015. That includes all cars for hire that the TLC regulates, like green borough cabs.

24% of Uber’s business comes from 5 cities. The prospectus lists NYC first. I can tell you that means NYC is the biggest. The convention in SEC filings is to list in order of importance (confirming that, the list was not alphabetical).

So let us charitably assume that NYC is only 5% of Uber’s total bookings.

3000 x .05 = 150.

Now admittedly Uber has broader categories for abuse than just rape, like unwanted kissing. But it called the police (or probably more accurately, had police called in on them) 37% of the time. So take 150 x .37 and you get 55.5, still over 3 times as high as level TLC regulated taxis.

Let me add it may be worse than three times as much. Uber typically compares its volumes to yellow cabs, when yellow cabs have only ~13,000 medallions, and the TLC regulates about 40,000 other vehicles, such as green “boro” cars, licensed black cars (like Carmel) and ambulettes. Incorporating that, the level of total regulated NYC rides in 2016 likely exceeded Uber volumes now (particularly when you factor in that yellow cab ride levels were higher in 2106 than now).

Note that the level of reported rapes in the US is 127,000 for 2018. The Uber definition is broader, since it includes mere non-consensual kissing (but query how often a victim would complain about that, as opposed to never using Uber again) but Uber said the police were involved in 37& of its cases, which strongly suggests Seriously Bad Shit with them. So ste but their sexual assault numbers include only physical action, when the National Crime Victimization Study (which is widely cited) has an even broader definition and includes verbal threats and “unwanted sexual contact without force” which also would appear not operative with Uber.

That number is even worse when you consider that a large UK study found that only 9% of rape victims were raped by strangers, and most experts in the US estimate that the victim knows her rapist 80% to 90% of the time.

The Deep Sea Neal Agarwal (Chuck L). Trust me, you’ll like this.

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BC comment on tweet below:

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Antidote du jour (Chet G, back in snapping turtle season):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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