How to Make Sure Your Uber Doesn’t Drive Past You

How to Make Sure Your Uber Doesn’t Drive Past You – Jonna Stern, The Wall Street Journal

I’m using Uber more and more as I travel. I’ve got a business trip soon, the kind where previously I would have rented a car but this time I’m going to Uber instead. That’ll be five Ubers in one day. But the alternative is picking up a car in San Jose and dropping it off in San Francisco ten or so hours later — not worth the hassle.

Laurie Penney channels the spirit of Hunter Thompson to report on the Democratic Convention

Bad Moon Rising — Welcome to the Scream Room — Medium

“There’s almost a mile of dead zone and several sets of scanners between the street and the convention floor, and everything stinks of sizzling Tarmac and compromise,” says journalist Penney.

Also:

As far as the party machine goes, Clinton is the ideal candidate. She is an iron-jawed, slick-fisted cagefighter gorged on the corpse of the young radical she once was. This is not an impediment to her presidency: It is her qualification for the presidency.

And the money quote:

The problem is that ordinary decent people around the world have had thirty years of lesser-evilism, and they’re sick of it. Hilary is not talking their language. Trump, lying through his lacquered teeth about bringing back union jobs, just might be.

Here we are in the desert of moderate liberalism. The storm has hit, and nobody was prepared.

She also notes that the Democratic Party, which claims to stand up for the working person and unions, allowed Uber to pay for a monopoly on the event zone:

The union-crushing eponym of the precarious gig economy has total control of the Democratic perimeter. They’ve provided a free lounge with air-conditioning and strange little bags of grey sweets stickers with the Uber brand. I dread to think what happens if you eat one. Perhaps you suddenly cease to require job security or a pension. Sign up for the app if you want to get away, which will happen by way of a car whose angry, exhausted driver who has spent all day being yelled at by delegates. This does not inspire confidence in organization skills of the Party of the People.

Uber and Lyft learn to drive Sacramento

Uber, Lyft leave fingerprints on Sacramento ride-hailing bills

I’m curious about the requirement that drivers need to be fingerprinted. If it’s a good idea to require it for other drivers, why should Uber and Lyft be exempt?

And I’m encouraged to hear that Sacramento killed legislation that would have allowed ride share drivers to organize. We truly do have the best legislators money can buy.

[Carolyn Said/San Francisco Chronicle]

Critics are predictably labeling Uber and Lyft pulling out of Austin as a defeat of progress at the hands of meddlesome government.

But if fingerprinting is a good idea for cabbies, it should be mandatory for rideshare drivers too. They’re just another variety of cabbies.

I don’t use Uber often, but I love it when I do. However, lately I’ve become concerned about what kind of legal liability and physical danger I might be exposing myself to when I use ridesharing.

Similarly for Airbnb – I’ve only used that service once, and it was fantastic, but I’m concerned how the safety and legal liability compares with a regular hotel.

I’m on my way to Austin now, so this is on my mind.

How Austin Beat Uber – Richard Parker, The New York Times

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.

Uber CEO loses dismissal of price-fixing lawsuit

If I’m reading this right, the lawsuit says Uber’s fundamental business model is based on illegal price-fixing.

Jonathan Stempel on Reuters:

Travis Kalanick, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc, failed on Thursday to win the dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit accusing him of scheming to drive up prices for passengers who use the popular ride-sharing service.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said Kalanick must face claims he conspired with drivers to ensure they charge prices set by an algorithm in the Uber smartphone app to hail rides, including “surge pricing” during periods of peak demand.

Passengers led by Spencer Meyer of Connecticut claimed that drivers conspired with Kalanick to charge fares set by the algorithm, with an understanding that other Uber drivers would do the same, even if they might fare better acting on their own.

Also:

“In creating Uber, Kalanick organized price-fixing among independent drivers who should be competing with one another on price,” [Meyer’s attorney, Andrew Schmidt] said. “Today’s decision confirms that apps are not exempt from the antitrust laws.”

Uber CEO must face price-fixing lawsuit by passengers: U.S. judge [Jonathan Stempel – Reuters]

Sharing economy companies such as Airbnb and Uber are built for abuse

They’ve got billions of dollars of capitalization they can use for public relations and lobbying to bulldoze regulatory oversight.

They’re privately held, so they’re not required to report finance and operations details.

The business model encourages “fake it until you make it” operations. Early investors, who often provide oversight for privately held startups, have every incentive to go along. After all, if the companies fail, investors lose out.

The whole thing is structured for disaster. At least one of these companies is going to turn out to be a fraud of Enronesque or Madoffian proportions. And that’s the best-case scenario — with Enron and Bernie Madoff, the only thing victims risked was money.

[The Sharing Economy’s Dirty Laundry / Tom Slee / Jacobin]