Author: Bailey Reutzel

Connecticut

Generic buildings reach into the sky in downtown Hartford, hovering over the stylish restaurants that feed and water suits after long commutes. The people of Hartford lament local coffee shops closing down, but bypass these local merchants, preferring to stop in Starbucks on their way out of the city for work. It’s been said before and holds true, much of Connecticut is square miles of accommodations and parking for New York City. Still I’m looking for inspiration but instead find a $10 parking lot across from a sushi restaurant that has WiFi. Chip sits down at the bar with three others, empty chairs acting as spacers. The question is posed by a woman that works in the restaurant industry if he’s from Hartford or here on vacation. The bartender pipes up, “No one vacations here.” In Hartford on business, Chip works for a consultancy that was asked by another consultancy to help The Travelers Companies, an American insurance company, deliver software. According to Chip, “I’m a third party to the third party.” Monday through Thursday, Travelers flies him from Richmond, Virginia, to Hartford. It’s about three hours of flight time. Since he doesn’t fly back and forth everyday, Chip isn’t an “extreme commuter,” the 2.41% of U.S. citizens that travel more than 90 minutes each way to work, according to the Census Bureau. It may be hard to believe,...

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Rhode Island

For Newport, Rhode Island, excess is an identity. Enormous yachts dock in the harbor. International sailing teams race on the waters. Gilded Age mansions dominate rocky cliffs. All of this is essential to Newport’s economy. The 25,000-person city hosts 300,000 visitors annually, accounting for 42.1% of consumer spending on accommodation and 23% of entertainment, figures that compete with the state capitol Providence, a city roughly seven times its size by population. Excess, it seems, has its benefits. From a potter or a hostel owner’s point of view, the purchasing power of the ultra-wealthy is as mystifying and as it...

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Massachusetts

Consumers are ignorant. They just don’t care about topics like payments, money and finance. In finance and tech, this narrative continues to go unquestioned. The constant drumbeat is the equivalent of a rattling office air conditioning vent, an accepted reality we hear in the background but seldom question or investigate. I’ll gloss over how grossly arrogant that statement is so as not to digress into the absurd use of acronyms and jargon used by these two sectors. Instead I’ll focus on how the rise of the Information Age gives consumers the ability to read an enormous amount of diverse opinions on nearly any subject, in turn democratizing these industries. Consumers, inundated with all this information, are starting to demand that the companies they patronize are aligned with their values. There’s still a long way to go, but money as tool for dissent is quickly being realized. When Chick-Fil-A’s chief operating officer opposed same sex marriage, LGBT activists and supporters boycotted the fast food chain and business partners sever ties. When Uber’s executives make misogynistic comments and turn a blind eye to rape culture, women turn off the app. When the company continued a summer discount leading to fare cuts, drivers turned off the app in what was called the first strike of the sharing economy. One of the more interesting ‘bring your pitchfork’ protests in the past several years...

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Maine

Semi trucks are a staple of the American highway system. Driving from Portland, Maine, to Cape Cod, I pass an 18-wheeler with “Truckers Keep America Moving” plastered on the back, bubble letters filled in with the stars and stripes. In a few years the motto might be relegated to history and antique shops, as tech takes over the trucking industry. While the wide use of self-driving cars is still years away, the technology behind the autonomous commuters continues to be perfected with companies like Google, Tesla and Uber leading the charge.   On an introduction from a New Hampshire Free Stater, I found myself crashing at the home of Travis Eden, a software programmer for a hush-hush startup in Portland. It could not have been a better recommendation… While the house was less than renovated, with plastic taped to the windows and sparse furniture, Travis was a fascinating ex-libertarian with a philosophical mind that dove right into my complex questions without hesitation. “It’ll come a point where artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or machine intelligence, whatever you want to call it, will replace most jobs,” Travis says. The road transportation industry, from truckers to taxis will be hit hard. “A huge part of the economy is drivers,” Travis goes on. In the U.S., more than 3 million people drive trucks for a living, carrying nearly 70% of all freight...

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New Hampshire

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” -The Who   Chris Pacia and I sit in his three-bedroom Manchester apartment, discussing the Bitcoin block size debate. The ongoing argument over how incentives are aligned in the distributed global payment network is of special interest to the software programmer who works for the bitcoin-only decentralized marketplace OpenBazaar. Pacia exudes the “we can do it better” mentality that permeates the conversation throughout southern New Hampshire, where more than 17,000 libertarians, including himself, have signed up for the Free State Project (FSP). Since 2001, the organization has been calling Staters, more...

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