Uber and Lyft only work because the economy is crappy enough that drivers are desperate enough to work below cost

Uber and Lyft only work because the economy is crappy enough that drivers are desperate enough to work below cost. [Ian Welsh]

Drivers can’t find good jobs and need cash now, so they work at rates below minimum wage and below the cost of keeping and maintaining their cars.

When the economy improves, Uber and Lyft will be in trouble.

Here is the thing about Uber and Lyft (and much of the “sharing economy”).

They don’t pay the cost of their capital.

The wages they pay to their drivers are less than the depreciation of the cars and the expense of keeping the driver fed, housed and healthy. They pay less than minimum wage in most markets, and in most markets that is not enough to pay the costs of a car plus a human.

These business models are ways of draining capital from the economy and putting them into the hands of a few investors and executives. They prey on desperate people who need money now, even if the money is insufficient to pay their total costs. Drivers are draining their own reserves to get cash now, but hey, they gotta eat and pay the bills.

This sharing economy shit works in a shitty economy. In a good economy, where people have what they need, it doesn’t work.

And this is not a problem that will be solved by the free market.

Until we stop pretending the market fairy is going to solve social action problems, we won’t actually solve those problems.

Via Cory Doctorow, who notes that other companies that fail to provide a living wage, such as McDonald’s and Walmart, are taxpayer-subsidized in the form of food stamps to employees.

Spoilsport British government won’t name $300M ship “Boaty McBoatface”

Internet users overwhelmingly voted to name the research vessel “Boaty McBoatface,” according to Josh Hafner on USA Today. Says the British government: Nope.

BBC host Nicky Campbell exclaimed that the government would “ride roughshod over democracy” if it did not go through with naming the ship “Boaty McBoatface,” which garnered 120,000 votes — four times that of the next closest choice.

Here’s why you can’t successfully FOIA President Obama’s ‘Game of Thrones’ screener

Journalist Vanessa Golembewski noted that President Obama is the only person outside of HBO to have received an advanced copy of the upcoming season of “Game of Thrones” – a “screener,” in showbiz jargon. She filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy. Does her FoIA request have a shot?

Nope, says Kelly Hinchcliffe on Poynter.org, after talking with legal experts. The White House is exempt from FoIA, as are trade secrets, and spoilers for GoT are arguably trade secrets.

Maybe Obama can be convinced to write up recaps for io9?

Golembewski’s article, earlier: Only Obama Gets Game Of Thrones Screeners, So I Filed An FOIA Request For Them

Oh, Gilligan, not again!

The Professor could make a radio out of coconuts but he couldn’t fix the hole in the boat.

The Tank Riot podcast visits “Gilligan’s Island.”

Gilligan’s Island! The team takes a trip to a tropic isle of nostalgia to discuss Sherwood Schwartz’s great show, Gilligan’s Island. Whatever happened to Bob Denver, Dawn Wells, Russell Johnson, Alan Hale, Jim Backus, Tina Louise, Natalie Schafer and Charles Maxwell, anyway? Who’s Charles Maxwell? Well, sit right back and you’ll hear a tale… Also, Hot Tub Time Machine, a trip to the Mailbag, a contest winner and more!

Learn about what happened to S.S. Minnow passengers Bunny and the high school teacher. Plus hear the tank crew’s take on Ginger vs. Mary Ann!

The Gilligan’s Island Wikipedia page classifies episodes into five types: Life on the island, including building tools and structures using found materials; visitors to the island; dream sequences; news from the outside world that causes discord among the castaways; and the appearance of strange artifacts such as a World War II mine or a Mars rover. Sometimes I love Wikipedia.

Putin riding a bear action figure, $69.95 on Amazon


“A shirtless Vladamir Putin riding a Russian Bear.”

I hear Donald Trump buys them by the gross.

Top review:

Anytime I need to emphasis that I mean business, I just pull out my Putin Riding a Bear. This will usually result in submission by the aggressor. My landlord was being a jerk while trying collect the lot rent. When I pulled this out, his drunk butt fell off my block step.This talisman will also make the ladies throw themselves on you. It’s really not fair to them that this exudes so much testosterone. I mean really….what chance do they stand with this in your pocket?

Buyer beware! Do not carry this while wearing a lone wolf t-shirt. I made the mistake of doing that (because I forgot I had the Putin in my pocket) and there was almost a riot in the Walmart cigarette line. Thank goodness my wolf shirt got ripped off (maybe it leaped off to defend me…i will never know) and I was able to get away.

Via reddit.com

HIllary Clinton carries hot sauce with her wherever she goes

She favors Ninja Squirrel from Whole Foods Market.

TIME asked the campaign of Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic rival in the New York primary Tuesday, if he also likes to feel the condiment burn. “His bold ideas are his hot sauce,” responded spokesman Michael Briggs.

An idea whose time has maybe come

Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?

Freakonomics Radio:

The gist: a lot of full-time jobs in the modern economy simply don’t pay a living wage. And even those jobs may be obliterated by new technologies. What’s to be done so that financially vulnerable people aren’t just crushed? It may finally be time for an idea that economists have promoted for decades: a guaranteed basic income.

Listen to the episode or read an edited transcript at the link. It’s a good introduction to the potential benefits and pitfalls of guaranteed basic income, as well as information on the results where it has already been tried on a limited basis.

Proposals for guaranteed basic income vary. In some, everybody gets an income just for being alive. In others, there’s means-testing, but without the rigorous qualifications and rules associated with current social welfare programs.

Politicians, social scientists, and economists on both the left and the right have supported guaranteed basic income over the years, including Thomas Paine, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Friedrich Hayek.

The odds are against us

America now has nearly 5 PR people for every reporter, double the rate from a decade ago [Mike Rosenberg – Muck Rack Daily]

15 years ago there were two PR people for every reporter in the country. Now the ratio is 4.8:1.

But wait, there’s more: Journalism is contracting, while PR is growing. The number of news reporters declined from 65,900 in 2000 to 45,800 in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of PR people has gone from 128,600 to 218,000.

This is a huge change, as companies and organizations are seeking to bypass a shrinking media industry and tell their own stories. What this means is that people are getting less objective news and more biased content.

Also, the pay gap between journalists and PR people is widening.

And this: