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Stop Whining About Uber

Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency, via Getty

Users of the car-summoning app were steamed when nasty weather drove up prices. But that’s how things work in the real world.

Don’t hate Uber because it jacks up prices.The car-summoning service came in for some criticism over the weekend. Users know that at times of high demand—rush hour, or when it’s raining—prices can easily double during a “surge.” It’s a reflection of supply and demand. But over the weekend—a cold, holiday-season weekend when it was snowing, sleeting, and generally unpleasant to be outside—the surge prices rose to up to 7 and 8 times the usual.

Rebel, Rebel

The Opt-Out Economy

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Bad news HBO, Walmart, and the NFL: Opting out is now standard practice for a generation of millennials. Must-have TV channels are out, and cheap work-arounds are in.

America’s economy and culture are defined in large measure by business and social phenomena that have exerted a huge amount of peer pressure for people to opt in. Consider football, the leading American spectator sport. Or Black Friday, the leading American consumer bloodsport. Or Facebook, the leading American social network. Sure, there are always outliers and rebels who stand on the sidelines: the Commies who argue against consumption, the nerds who prefer programming to football.

Radical

Banker: Pope Too Easy on Rich

Franco Origlia/Getty

Chris Lowney left seminary to work in international investment banking, where he saw what markets could do for the world’s poor. He has a few things to tell the anti-capitalist pope.

Both Pope Francis and I were Jesuit seminarians. He wanted to go to Japan as a missionary, but never got the chance. I did get to go there, but not as a Jesuit.I left seminary in New York after a few years when I realized I wouldn’t be happy as a priest. (That’s a comment on my life calling, not on the church I love or the Catholic priesthood). I suspect the pope would have blessed my choice to leave, since he recently wrote that the church’s representatives can’t be “sourpusses” or look like “someone who has just come back from a funeral.

R.I.P., Red Ink

Golden Age of Deficit Reduction

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

As Washington chewed over the Paul Ryan-Patty Murray budget deal, the Treasury Department announced a walloping drop in red ink. Turns out government didn’t need a “grand bargain” to get its fiscal house in order.

The Murray-Ryan budget deal was anti-climactic. After all this—three years of failed grand bargain talks, the sequester, a shutdown—we have a deal that will cut deficits by a grand total of $22 billion over ten years. No wonder the Tea Party crowd is incensed. Yet the outrage over the federal debt—$17 trillion and rising—won’t stand in the way of this deal. That’s because, thanks in part to the sequester, but thanks largely to the miracle of sustained growth, the annual deficit is shriveling.

Pain Reliever

A Deal to Stop Hurting the Economy

Rod Lamkey/Getty

A bipartisan proposal to trim the sequester and forbid shutdowns for the next two years means Washington may finally be ready to quit kneecapping growth.

On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray announced a budget deal. Should it pass, the deal would undo a portion of the sequester and raise discretionary spending in fiscal 2014 by $45 billion, from the sequester level of $967 billion to $1.012 trillion. It would offset the spending increases slated for the next two years with new revenues raised from jacking up airline ticket fees and boosting federal employees’ pension contributions.

Think Twice

Gift Cards Are Corporate Welfare

Starbucks

Starbucks sold out 1,000 rose-gold $450 gift cards in seconds last week. Turns out they’re just more free loans for the super-rich coffee chain.

Huge companies like Starbucks have it pretty good. They don’t have to pay their employees all that much. They don’t pay much taxes. Thanks to the Federal Reserve, they can borrow at very low costs. Oh, and customers are rushing to lend them money for free.It’s not that Starbucks has asked caffeine addicts for a loan. Rather, last Friday it held a flash sale on the luxury online retailer Gilt.com of 1,000 $450 limited edition rose-colored metal Starbucks card.

GIRL POWER

Meet GM's First Female CEO

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg, via Getty

General Motors, the largest U.S. auto-manufacturer, has named Mary Barra its first female CEO. Here are a few facts to get you up to speed.

Girls rule, boys drool.That may become the new catchphrase in the auto industry. Women are accounting for a rising share of car purchases. And on Tuesday, General Motors, America’s largest auto manufacturer, tapped its first female CEO.GM announced today that Mary Barra, its current executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain, will become CEO on January 15, 2014, replacing current CEO and Chairman Dan Akerson, who led the company through its bailout and recovery.

Chart It

Are Higher Wages Bad for You?

Paul Sancya/AP

As Obama and others press to raise the federal minimum wage about $7.25, skeptics say such a move could bruise the economy. Who’s right? Let’s the consult the data!

The fight for minimum wage is on.From Capitol Hill to Main Street, the question of how much money our lowest-paid workers should earn is being answered with an emphatic “more.” President Obama supports a bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over the next two years. In a speech on Wednesday, he rallied progressive troops once again for the cause. That same day, a group of 53 members of Congress wrote a letter urging McDonald’s and other fast-food outlets to “super-size” their struggling workers’ paychecks.

LONGREADS

Best Business Longreads

Joe Raedle

From the pitfalls of aid in Africa to the epic downfall of Blackberry, The Daily Beast brings you the best in business journalism from the week of December 7, 2013.

Is Marissa Mayer Helping Yahoo—Or Hurting the Struggling Tech Giant? Bethany McLean – Vanity FairA year-and-a-half into her tenure at longtime Silicon Valley zombie Yahoo!, many are still trying to figure out whether Mayer, with all her press attention and razzle dazzle, is the real deal.The Rise and Fall of Blackberry Felix Gillette, Diane Brady, and Caroline Winter – Bloomberg BusinessweekHow did BlackBerry, the phone product made by Research in Motion, go from being the manufacturer of an item powerful people could not do without to a company on the verge of failure?Africa’s Aid Mess Paul Theroux – Barron’sPhilanthropy by westerners in Africa is almost as old as the imperialiasm that ravaged the continent.

You're Hired

An Unusually Awesome Jobs Report

Ralph Freso/Reuters

The economy added 203,000 jobs in November, according to today’s data—and the unemployment rate dipped for the right reasons. There’s just one downside: stubbornly stagnant wages.

We’ve learned at least one thing this fall. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the approach of the health insurance mandate isn’t causing companies to fire workers en masse, hold back from hiring, or rush to place employees on part-time status.Quite the opposite. In the last few months, hiring has been ramping up. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 203,000 payroll jobs in November. The unemployment rate, which is compiled from a separate survey, dipped to 7.

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Shame on You, Walmart!

With an Ohio Walmart hosting a holiday food drive for its own workers, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticizes the notoriously stingy company for not paying them more.

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Business

Daniel Gross

Latest from The Daily Beast

Ukraine: Truce and Consequences

Ukraine: Truce and Consequences

In an exclusive interview, Ukraine’s foreign minister says that over Easter he has halted confrontations with Russian-backed separatists in the east. But next week may be messy.

Nostalgia

Why New York City Needs the Knicks

Forebearance

Rand Paul and the Welfare Rancher

Watch This!

Watch the Week in 90 Seconds

Complex History

Can HRC Count on Women This Time?