Uber, Gig Economy: “The Brutality of the System Is Being Lost on Those Who Actually Use These Apps”

Izabella Kaminska has been an Uber skeptic for some time (see Why Uber’s capital costs will creep ever higher and The taxi unicorn’s new clothes). In this video, she signs up as a gig economy worker and uses her experience to explore what she argues is a new form of feudalism. I particularly like her reference to Snow Crash.

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  1. Field Marshal MacLuhan

    As a former bike courier, the most surprising thing about her experience is that people actually tipped her.

      1. Propertius

        I think it’s something different, and far worse, than what we traditionally think of as “capitalism”. Remember, in the Uber/Lyft/Deliveroo model the workers actually do own the means of production: the car, motorcycle, or bicycle. They bear the cost of acquiring, maintaining, and depreciating that mean of production. I daresay the total capital investment on the part of the workers is actually higher than that of the service they’re working for (servers are relatively cheap these days and the programmers were probably contractors, too). So what’s happening here is not merely extraction of “surplus value” from workers by owners, it’s a bunch of digital hustlers bleeding workers, owners, and their own investors (as long as they continue to operate at a net loss).

        At least traditional capitalists had some actual investment in the enterprise, and feudal lords were expected to protect their serfs – often with their own lives. Uber, on the other hand explicitly disclaims any obligation whatsoever, whether to their drivers or their customers.

        1. efschumacher

          At least traditional capitalists had some actual investment in the enterprise, and feudal lords were expected to protect their serfs – often with their own lives.

          I think you’re confusing the Feudal System with the Manorial System.

          In the Feudal System, the King gets hired goons to fight his wars in return for parcelling out land to, chiefly, the descendants of Norman participants in the Battle of Hastings.

          In the Manorial System, which was inherited from Saxon times, the indigenous people whose land it once was, get to rent it from his Lordship in return for working on his land 40% of the week.

          The French were never a threat to the security of the English peasantry, so any protection given by a Norman lord was protection from some other greedy Norman lord.

        2. Tim

          However they already owned the car, bike etc. Now they can earn money with it. I struggle to see how uber is worse than driving a taxi. In many markets, taxi licences were rare and expensive. In Melbourne they peaked at about $500k, about the cost of a house. Most drivers had little prospect of owning their own plates. They rented a car per shift, which are two per day (12 hours). Fuel came out of their takings. Drive or not, you pay for the cab. So the pressure is on to do 12 hour shifts. Many aspects of driving for uber are an improvement for drivers, not just for passengers

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Uber drivers get paid less net in many markets, such as Birmingham, Al. A cab driver gets $19 for a ride where an Uber driver nets $11. Passengers almost without exception tip in proportion to the fare. And drivers there own their own cabs.

            Plus as we have discussed at length in previous posts, the overwhelming majority of Uber drivers don’t understand their own economics and don’t allow for the cost of the wear and tear on their vehicle, which is considerable. One Uber driver went through the math in his market and showed it was unprofitable to drive for Uber unless your car was more than six years old.

            And see the discussion below, how most Uber drivers are not paying to get commercial auto insurance. Many will be wiped out if they get in an accident and have their claim denied.

            1. John k

              We are in early days. Models not sustainable will at some point stop or change.
              Uber undercuts taxis, prices are too low. Eventually prices will rise while suits will force commercial insurance. Taxis going under will accelerate the needed higher uber pricing.
              We were late to try uber Lyft. My very limited experience is uniformly much better service. Pleasant millennials with good English, good safe drivers as opposed to occasional lunatics. Rapid pickup (must be a lot of uber drivers out there where we were, NYC and DC). Very easy bill paying on line, no problems making change etc, only problem had to tip in cash. Comfortable new mostly Japanese cars, meaning safer lots of air bags, vs old us cars with dead springs.
              Hopefully the medallion model will die soon.

          2. saurabh

            One of the most egregious ways is by not providing insurance. Most taxi companies purchase commercial insurance for their fleets. Uber and Lyft, however, insist that their drivers are contractors and not employees, and while they require their drivers to insure themselves, they do not provide commercial insurance. Individual insurance policies don’t cover drivers while they are carrying passengers (as this is commercial activity). Uber and Lyft can thus save a bundle by not insuring their drivers, who are left hanging out to dry by incomplete coverage in the event of an accident.

            This is not theoretical; I had a Lyft driver the other day who had $6000 in damage his insurance company refused to cover because he had a passenger when the accident happened.

        3. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, I think the ‘feudal’ comparison is inappropriate. While brutal, there were actually a lot of interlocking responsibilities within a feudal system that wasn’t all one way.

          The model is much more recent. It wasn’t long ago that I remember certain pubs in London where from 7am men, mostly at that time Irish, but later on, East European, would gather outside while a line of vans and trucks would come along. The foremen and gangers would just pick the ones who looked hard working (or particularly desperate) and take them away for a days work at a ‘no negotiation’ rate. It was very brutal and demeaning for those men, but they had little choice if they didn’t have a valuable skill. This is just a marginally more high tech version of the same thing.

  2. Pavel

    Uber, AirBnb, Deliveroo… all destroying the world one market at a time, each in their own pernicious way.

    I stay in London near London Bridge, where Izabella in the video worked, and see many Deliveroo riders. Apart from their own woes, there is another population affected: the restaurant staff. The kitchen staff have to prepare the food, but don’t get any share of tips for their work. The wait staff also earn less, of course, and the restaurant itself suffers from loss of alcohol sales etc.

    The affluent young professionals who use these apps will rue the day when there are no longer taxi drivers, local restos, and affordable hotels.

    I cannot imagine living in London on £10 per hour. It is a new feudalism.

    1. digi_owl

      Those young professionals think they can just pack their laptop and their credit card and move somewhere else if problems arise. Thats why you see them defend the likes of EU. Effectively they are envisioning a return of the aristocracy and the grand tour…

    2. /L

      It’s not the Uber, AirBnb and so on that destroys the world. They simply capitalize on economic policy’s that deliberately create unemployment, underutilization of the workforce and a precariat. No matter if its the Right or social-democrats/labour, they all worked to gear the system this way for the last 30-35 years, at last it starts to “pay of”.

      “Rising unemployment was a very desirable way of reducing the strength of the working classes . . . What was engineered – in Marxist terms – was a crisis in capitalism which re-created a reserve army of labor, and has allowed the capitalists to make high profits ever since.”
      Alan Budd – chief economic advisor to Margaret Thatcher

  3. BeliTsari

    Freedom’s just another word? Wasn’t one of Obama’s specious promises, that since he’d co-authored the swell Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act of 2007, we’d get some action on libertarian wage theft of the gig economy? It’s all just Sharecropper 2.0, with craven victims eagerly selling our souls to the company store?

  4. oho

    It’s fraud by semantics,

    adverts for drivers imply gross revenue = net income, neglect to inform about the paying both sides of FICA for noobs, drivers underestimate tail risk—like being underinsured in a crash, no workers comp, no disability insurance.

    Citation: ex-driver

    1. diptherio

      Additionally, if you get in a wreck while driving for Uber and your insurance finds out about it, they will not cover you unless you have commercial vehicle insurance…according to the airport shuttle driver, anyway. He also showed me his last fare for Uber, which he had checked out for a couple of weeks: $2.65 for a cross-town ride (apparently there was some special offer going on…sorry drivers!)

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If the insurer has an inkling, they will not cover, and unless you pay for that insurance, the temptation to earn performance based tips is too great to pretend the driver was behaving rationally. It’s why Domino’s had to end their 30 minute guarantee. Insurers wouldn’t cover drivers.

        1. diptherio

          “If the insurer has an inkling…”

          Exactly. How many Uber drivers do you think notify their insurance companies? How many have had their insurance revoked for not changing their policy? If the insurance companies get hip and start checking their client list against Uber drivers and demanding commercial coverage, the economics of Uber are going to become much more apparent to the drivers, much more quickly.

    2. Rosario

      I noticed the one man they interviewed mentioned the cost of the bike, insurance, service, and similar items related directly to the job itself. I was hoping he would include: health insurance, housing, food, etc. That labor currently feels it only has a claim to bargain with the tools to do their job is a sign that labor power has taken many steps back from what it was in the early to mid twentieth century. It is absolutely valid to pool the cost of living a comfortable life with the cost associated directly with ones work. The fact that they have to account for the costs of even doing the job in the first place is a sign that it is exploitation above and beyond your typical capitalist enterprise.

      I’m imagining machinists in the mid twentieth century having to go to a job where they pool their money to buy the mills, the measuring equipment, the electricity to power the tools, the metal stock, on-and-on, while the capitalists running the mill simply paid for the lawyers and accountants to manage corporate.

      1. reslez

        The news report was from the UK which means he can rely on publicly funded universal health care. Paying for their own health insurance is a special added burden for workers in the US.

  5. paul

    ebay=exchange and mart
    amazon=great universal stores catalogue
    google=the library/yellow pages
    uber et al=the factory gates

    More of the same all at once!

    All the on command economy requires is the unique human quality of adaptive degradation.

    “You must cut costs ruthlessly by 50 or 60 percent,” Enron President Jeffrey Skilling said at an electricity industry conference in Arizona. “Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works.”

    The poor/people are forever the bane of the innovatorial.

    1. cnchal

      “Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works.”

      Robot as customer instead? That means french fry flinging robot arms get a paycheck, or they can stuff the french fries in their owner’s pie hole.

        1. cnchal

          The owners of french fry flinging robots should be wary of placing two of them close together, just in case these robots get their own ideas.

          Robot Carel to robot Capek: Wait till he gets close enough, grab him by the throat and hold him there. I will punch his lights out, OK? What a miserable robot life we have, mounted on these pedestals, only able to swing our arm and not even a paycheck for our trouble. Total abuse. Robots want to be freeeee.

  6. nycTerrierist

    These rentier apps are economic malware against labor.

    Workers need collective bargaining now more than ever.

    Neo-feudalism indeed. How much longer will people put up with this?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What is Trump? What is Sanders? People have been divided, but they are angry. Hillary Clinton isn’t President. Having the DNC make Uber an official part of its coronation probably didn’t play well.

      If people weren’t angry, the press would have had an orgasmic celebration as Jeb and Hillary campaigned over who was the better friend.

      “No, it’s Hillary. She’s more modest. I know what my mom says.” -Jeb
      “Hahaha, I know we have our minor disagreements, but he is exactly right. I am the mostest modestest person to ever have lived.” -Hillary
      “George and I just made a lounge singing album.” -Michelle upon the release of her new venture. The reviews weren’t great as people did notice their “liberal and conservative” song was just “ebony and ivory” if produced by hacks.

      This is the election if people weren’t angry.

      1. jrs

        “What is Trump? What is Sanders?”

        they are still basically putting up with it since very little will likely change (ok the possibility for positive change was greater with Sanders than Trump but still). They fall short of collective bargaining by far.

    2. readerOfTeaLeaves

      These rentier apps are economic malware against labor.

      Now there’s a meme that I intend to do my bit to spread.

    3. Pintada

      “Workers need collective bargaining … ”

      I knew someone would say it. It seems that you didn’t watch the video … that part where Uber clarifies their position and says, “Over 10,000 applications … per week …”. I can translate that for everyone:

      What they are saying is, “Those people are lucky to have any job at all. In fact, we may lower wages because we have to turn away so many qualified people each week”.

      As things progress, people will start clamoring for those jobs even more. The only way to get one will be if another rider dies in an accident or ruins his health for some other reason.

      1. Propertius

        What they are saying is, “Those people are lucky to have any job at all. In fact, we may lower wages because we have to turn away so many qualified people each week”.

        As Jay Gould is said to have opined, “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

        The only way to get one will be if another rider dies in an accident or ruins his health for some other reason.

        Or if (echoing the Snow Crash quote in the video) an impatient customer shoots the driver and takes his car because he had to wait more than 30 minutes for a pizza.

        1. jrs

          “As Jay Gould is said to have opined, “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” ”

          And yet … and yet the working class has managed to organize at times. Even those willing to pay one half of the working class, often needed a backstop of government thugs to really crush a strike.

      2. Kevin Carhart

        (1) You got the company wrong. (2) I would not be so credulous about that figure. They lie through their teeth and have been doing so for the entire life of the sharing economy. They rationalize lying through their teeth as part of what you do to build a startup’s visibility. Alison Griswold reported that Uber’s $90,000/year figure was a lie. Tom Slee and Murray Cox caught Airbnb redhanded, selectively removing listings just before publishing a report about the lay of the land in New York City. I caught Brian Rothenberg and Kevin Cruz from Taskrabbit lying through their teeth, posing as ordinary workers in Yelp reviews when they were interested Taskrabbit staffers. VC-funded status facilitates opacity and lying. This is the backdrop to the “10,000 applications” figure. It makes a nice form of scaremongering and can dwell at the rumor level because there is a lack of sunlight on private companies.

    1. Ivy

      Morals and Ethics used to be part of an education. Awareness of such, let alone knowledge thereof, has become increasingly scarce. How much of that is due to which factors:

      Separation of church and state, stretching to encompass the M&E notions so as to banish them?
      Budget cuts
      Common Core
      Not usable enough for college application points
      Other random factor(s)

    2. Propertius

      Exactly: feudalism without noblesse oblige and capitalism without capital. It’s hard to imagine a worse combination (except chattel slavery, of course, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see that abomination make a comeback, either).

  7. Michael

    I did delivery work in the 70’s in SF. Bike messengers common and crazy. UPS drivers were under the same pressure to move a mountain of packages in difficult terrain as today. Moved on to air freight from SFO when Teamsters (Emery and CF) controlled and profits were high. Freight forwarders needed more flexibility as Bay Area business started booming and demanded reduced costs esp for Special Deliverys (I need it now!). The solution was independent contractors! Calif PUC got involved after a while, they’d seen it before, but it was hard to ferret out those who would work for themselves. I had driver friends from all over the world and we coexisted with the union drivers, even the longshoreman if you stayed in in “I’m not in a rush mode”. When CF started a non union subsidiary, Conway, union drivers were po’d but the trend to non union delivery businesses and IC’s was cemented. I was fortunate, as exploitation is always present, that gross income was sufficient to operate by the rules and make enough money to raise a family. Key difference was housing prices! With interest rates at 11% and tax rates high, it was a good time to buy! So I did. A few years later the original Great recession was taking its toll and I sold the truck and got a real estate license and lived happily ever after. The End.

    1. a different chris

      >s Bay Area business started booming and demanded reduced costs

      And isn’t that weird? That’s not what economists would predict, or even business school (people will pay a premium as their need increases). Now in real-world economics we could, and often do, see a boom/bust thing happen… there is no equilibrium. Everybody says “hey they need bicycle messengers” and so a lot of people show up until there are suddenly way too many. But “suddenly” actually means business finally stabilized, no more boom.*

      But the center of the boom demanding reduced costs? Doesn’t sound like a legitimate playing field, does it?

      *and we can argue over “supply creates it’s own demand” but let’s not.

    2. habenicht

      Sort of on this topic, I just started reading MIchael Belzer’s “Sweatshop on Wheels” (2000). It is a study of winners and losers in deregulation in the trucking industry. There was a lot of ground lost for truck drivers once cut-throat competition was allowed after 1980 (revised MSA).

      There are some similarities and differences between deregulation in trucking and exploiting UBER drivers. The similar thread between the two about grinding down wages to below sustinence levels (on a pay per hour basis) shows that Mark Twain was right and history does rhyme!

  8. Anon

    Real Estate commissions! Now there is the scam. Where else can a RE agent make 1-1/2% on a $800,000 house after 6 months of “training”. Or a Broker get the same percentage for “overseeing” said agent!?

    1. a different chris

      Yeah and the “problem with the young” is that they “don’t want to move” and their other big problem is that they “aren’t settling down and buying houses”.

      Only our famous business press could manage to keep those ideas in the same empty heads without them somehow colliding.

  9. Synoia

    1792 – All over again.

    There is a speech out there in the intertubes by Tony Benn (Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn if I remember correctly), where he asserts right must be fought for in ever generation.

    Some quotes

    Britain’s continuing membership of the Community would mean the end of Britain as a completely self-governing nation – Letter to Bristol constituents, December, 1974.

    In developing our industrial strategy for the period ahead, we have the benefit of much experience. Almost everything has been tried at least once – 1974 in the Commons when Secretary of State for Industry.

    We are paying a heavy political price for 20 years in which, as a party, we have played down our criticism of capitalism and soft-peddled our advocacy of socialism – Speech to Labour Party conference, 1976

    1. paul

      It is always hard for me to to make sense of the former viscount stansgate, he talked a good game but seemed to be a willing fool/panto villain in the rise of the kinnock/blair flaccidity.
      It’s possible I am being unkind, but note that his MP son (everything is hereditary these days) seems unconvinced of his positions, apart from ‘wrecking’ the mood of his party’s members.

  10. Synoia

    You must cut costs ruthlessly by 50 or 60 percent,” Enron President Jeffrey Skilling said at an electricity industry conference in Arizona. “Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works.

    Yes quite. And your customers will than have what money to spend?

    1. paul

      The MIC basic income (cost plus) guarantee.
      What’s good enough for boieng is good enough for the mundanes.

      1. a different chris

        The problem with MIC in a vacuum and the like are pretty close to the problem with Obamacare, there is no predator control. I’m not sure if the MM’ers cover this, they certainly seem smart enough to get it, but you always have to extensively tax the rich or they just wind up with everything.

  11. flora

    Uber, Deliveroo, Task Rabbit are an updated version, imo, of the practice of building contractors who would drive a pickup truck or van to a building/lumber supply store in the early morning hours to pick up undocumented workers milling about waiting for a day labor gig.
    In a sense, gig app owners are the contractors, now faceless and being enriched by an order of magnitude over the single contractor with a truck. The gig workers are ‘undocumented workers’. Certainly exploited. One difference, though, is that the gig workers who have citizenship can organize. This isn’t a new model; it’s an old model with new technology.

    Thanks very much for this post.

  12. samhill

    Uber, Gig Economy: “The Brutality of the System Is Being Lost on Those Who Actually Use These Apps”

    Just a way of restating Upton Sinclair’s famous line, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    neo-feudalism = feudalism minus noblesse oblige.

    That’s it in a nutshell. Love it, I’m stealing it!

    And here we are, all sitting around waiting to see if the new King Trump will be just and kind or wanton and cruel, Good King Richard or Evil King John. Such a sad comment on the state of the Union in 2016. And the answer is: Evil King John from now on, noblesse oblige is so 13th century!

  13. LA Mike

    I got mocked by “Integer” in another thread about this.

    We’re living in a time where labor is just being annihilated. Ownership gets everything… all gains. Why do we take this assumption for granted? I just don’t get it. I always say, “Tim Cook doesn’t assemble a single iPhone, nor does he sell any.”

    What is wrong, conceptually, with putting a cap on multiples over average salary? For example, no one person at the company can make over 50 times the average salary?

    In both Uber and Deliveroo, imagine what this would do to wages and the company’s model.

    The good thing about it is that, in many ways… it allows capitalism and the profit motive to do its thing. However, it’s more like, “Here’s the profit you want… but you must take care of those who assist in it.”

    What’s wrong with this? Why does the idea frighten so many people? Please use an example if so inclined.

    1. diptherio

      What is wrong, conceptually, with putting a cap on multiples over average salary? For example, no one person at the company can make over 50 times the average salary?

      You’re heading in the right direction, but I don’t think you’re there yet. Why should the salary differentials be 50:1 instead of, say 1.5:1? The latter would coincide more with my experience of reality.

      Say the retail clerk works X hours per week and makes $Y. If they get a promotion, with a little more responsibility, how much more are they actually doing? 1.1X? 1.2X? Surely not twice as much as they were before. Shouldn’t the compensation be the same? $1.2Y, not $2Y or $4Y… Why do we assume that someone who’s gotten a couple more promotions than someone else is now suddenly doing 10 or 20 times the work they were before? Does anyone seriously believe that?

      What’s missing from our discussions of wage inequality is one simple thing: a decimal point.

      1. witters

        I once wrote a paper arguing that we tie politicians remuneration to the modal wage, directly. Only if the modal wage rose could their wage rise, and if it fell, then so too theirs. The New South Wales Premier’s Department requested a copy of it. And then it disappeared…

      2. LA Mike

        Hi Diptherio,

        Thanks for your response. Trust me, I’m not married to 50, but I wanted to be sure to invite as many people into the conversation as possible. Realistically, I’d probably put it in the 20-30 range. The owner, with all the risk and history, deserves the most.

        1. jrs

          I’d probably aim for the type of caps that are found in worker co-ops, I don’t have that much data, but I’ve heard figures like 10-1.

    2. Propertius

      And another comment vanishes ito the void that is Skynet ;-). I assume it was due to my comparison of Uber with another field of less-legal-but-probably-more-ethical economic activity.

      The gist is that the Uber model is designed to avoid any such trifling considerations as “wages” or “salary” and therefore skirt such things as “living wages” or “salary caps”. The actual number of legal Uber employees is miniscule. Uber’s position is that drivers are not really employed by Uber and that Uber therefore doesn’t pay them a wage.

      It’s not that I think you’re wrong, Mike. I think you’re absolutely on point. It’s just that the Uber model is explicitly designed to scam its way around such remedies.

      1. LA Mike

        Hi Propertius,

        How about the cap be written in such a way that 1099’s factor into the cap based on time worked as much as internal employees?

        Even part timers like say, a janitorial service, could be prorated out as a qualifying salary factored into the cap.

        What do you think?

        1. TedHunter

          Hi LA Mike,

          I think we’ve already had the pleasure.

          There are numerous cap-models used by co-ops (such as Mondragon). They range between 5:1 and 8:1. The numerous real (50%+1) employee-owned-companies in North America apply caps as well.

          Another model would be benchmarking. National median, specific professional groups, etc. This raises the long-term risk of becoming the weakest link in the chain. But for informal reasons, why not. The German median income is 2.660 € gross. A judge on the Supreme Court here earns about 10.000 € gross (both fix, p mth), aka 4:1 compared to national median.

          I do not think, however, that caps can be pushed through the relevant legislature, on either side of the Atlantic. The more realistic, short-term solution is to hope (!) that certain companies will apply the cap voluntarily, thereby gaining market recognition. Which means that these companies will probably be from the B2C sector, or employee-owned-companies, or both.

          1. LA Mike

            Hi Ted,

            That rings a bell… that you and communicated here a ways back. Thanks for responding.

            The thing I like about a cap like this, whether 8:1 or 30:1 is it solves so many parts of the equation. All the fights over taxation would probably be mitigated with a cap in place. The redistribution mechanism is already in place in the private sphere. And as I mentioned earlier, the profit motive remains firmly in place. Not the mention the extraordinary level of unification that could occur within companies as now each employee could feel the profit motive at work in everything they do. I know that’s a little bit of a stretch, but rationally, that thought should be there on some level, at all levels of an institution. “As the company gains, I gain.” Ownership should like that.

            The voluntary thing is really interesting. Like an economics Tom’s Shoes or what have you. A socially conscious company… that’s economically conscious.

            1. TedHunter

              Hi Mike,

              that’s what I think too (“it solves so many parts of the equation”). Imagine the sudden intrinsic interest of management to raise the minimum / average / median income in the company. Or whatever the benchmark for their own income is. That, in turn, solves many of the issues usually under consideration on NC.

    3. integer

      For the record I said the real issue was political, as you had presented this idea as one that would cure all the ills of the status quo.

      1. LA Mike

        Oh, I see. So let’s go to DC and just scream out, “our issues are political”, and that’ll solve everything.

        I didn’t present this idea as a “cure all”. But I do see it as an extremely powerful mechanism that would do wonders for income inequality and social stability.

        If you have a substantive response, please by all means go for it. If not, I really don’t come here for […] assertions that my name disqualifies me as a commenter. […]

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          To both LA Mike and integer: If you want to keep talking about LA Mike’s original proposal, that’s fine. However, the only way that will be productive is if you can both make an effort to let bygones be bygones. If you can’t, that’s fine, but in that case it might be better to devote your energy to other topics.

  14. bob

    “The Brutality of the System Is Being Lost on Those Who Actually Use These Apps”

    That’s the reason they pay for the app.

    They don’t want to have to actually speak to another, lower human. “Just press a button and go! I’m an upper class elite!”

    There’s a reporter here who’s been doing some better than normal work for the local Newhouse, LLC paper. She’s now getting all hot and bothered that NYS won’t pass a law that will allow Uber to operate in upstate NY.

    She’s also the first to point out that her income from the paper is sub-poverty level. But, give her an Uber and she’s fine.

    1. Waldenpond

      In the line with the proposition that the main economic activity is theft…. people seem to be able to tolerate quite a bit of disfunction in society if they can get something over on someone else.

  15. Sandy

    Who’s seen the nauseating Uber “side hustle” television commercial?

    Literally starts with the black male driver saying to the camera “these days, everyone needs a side hustle!” with a smile.

    I’d like to go live under a rock. But chances are the globalists already securitized that rock.

    1. Propertius

      Where I live, the local cab company operates on the Uber model, anyway. The cab company is owned by the French transportation conglomerate Veolia. The dispatch office is literally a thousand miles away. Drivers are “independent contractors” who receive no wages or benefits and are responsible for their vehicles, fuel, tolls, maintenance, and insurance – and they still have the dubious privilege of surrendering about half (I think) of the gross fare to the company. They do, of course, have the option of *renting* a cab from the company for a fixed weekly fee (in addition to the company’s cut of the fare), but are still responsible for fuel, tolls, etc. Drivers “bid” electronically for fares called into dispatch – I’m not sure quite how that particular system works – which means that calling for a cab is very much a hit-or-miss proposition (assuming the dispatcher, who has no idea of local geography, can even manage to enter it into the system correctly).

      It’s an amazingly lousy deal all around – except for some guy in Paris who is doubtless doing quite well indeed.

  16. nat scientist

    Gulags were Josef “Stalin”‘s pronunciation of “Good Jobs” after some time on the prescribed political re-education campuses once called State Universities renamed by the Securors of the Homeland agencies as free vocational schools. New Jobs for nut jobs, thinking their Time is ever Free, or their own, being always on call, one former member of a free society might say.

  17. phil

    We are approaching a tipping point – as negative multipliers impacting community-based intellectual, social, and financial capital, worldwide, will soon become intolerable (in many places, it already has, so anarchy reigns).

    Surveillance technologies initially set up to “protect” our money and property will slowly insinuate themselves as a means of total control. China is taking the lead on this, but other nations will eventually follow suit – it’s only a matter of time.
    [[http://tinyurl.com/zr2n2q5 – paywall may be active – you can override the paywall by using “private” tabs in your browser]]

    Bill Joy, former Chief Scientist at now defunct Sun Microsystems, predicted some of this, years ago. Watching it happen since I heard Joy’s lecture one evening has been more than disturbing.

  18. NotSoSure

    The world is so cruel, most people are probably looking forward to put a hurting on other people just to lash out i.e. the lash out economy.

  19. vteodorescu

    Uber drivers are really rebelling against too much government regulation against the little guy!

    Getting a taxi license costs a lot of money and/or it takes a lot of time

    Uber provides a quick escape, even if it’s a flawed one

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