Tag: uber

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with communications expert and cofounder of South & Hill Strategies Lizzy Guyton about what the research on the profiles and preferences of rideshare drivers tells us about the industry, and the possible effects of designating independent contractors as employees.


Uber and Lyft Drivers to Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle: We Don’t Want Your Stinkin’ Wage Standard!


It seems that, in her efforts to improve the lives of poor, overworked, and underpaid ride-share drivers, Mayor Durkan has proposed “wage standards” that the companies will be required to pay all their gig-economy drivers.  She reasons that those drivers are probably not earning enough, and are incurring many extra expenses brought on by (government-mandated) Coronavirus protective equipment and procedures, so their employers (See California AB5) must be mandated to pay them more.

Well, in response to that, a group of drivers called Drive Forward (called a rideshare coalition) had this to say:

California Knifes the Gig Economy


(Sacramento, Aug. 29) Car displaying Uber and Lyft fliers advocating California unionize the gig economy.

California state legislators embarked last week on the single most important regulatory misadventure this country has seen in many decades, seeking to redefine the obscure but critical legal distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. The employment relationship today is subject to massive regulation that is inapplicable to the independent contractor, who pretty much works on his or her own.

Like it or not, the employee receives many statutory protections, including the right to receive minimum wages and overtime, to join a union, to receive worker’s compensation benefits and unemployment insurance, and to receive paid family and sick leave. None of that mandated protection comes without significant costs. It has been estimated that reclassification of Uber and Lyft drivers as employees in California alone will cost the two companies an average of $3,625 per driver per year for a combined annual bill of nearly $800 million per year. Nonetheless, in 2018, the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court forged ahead with such a reform by unanimously holding that drivers who worked for a firm that supplied nationwide courier and delivery services should be classified by law as employees and not as independent contractors.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are horrified to see another high school shooting, this time in Maryland, but they are gratified to see the school resource officer intervened quickly to neutralize the shooter.  They also react to the news of a driverless vehicle killing a pedestrian in Arizona and explain why humans behind the wheel will always make more sense than a computer.  And they pop the popcorn as “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon mounts a liberal primary challenge to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The End of the Auto Era as We Know It May Be Approaching Faster Than You Think


Bob Lutz is a former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors. And in this essay for Automotive News, he declares the end of the auto industry as we know it:

It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era. The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile. Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules. The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway. . . .

Most of these standardized modules will be purchased and owned by the Ubers and Lyfts and God knows what other companies that will enter the transportation business in the future. A minority of individuals may elect to have personalized modules sitting at home so they can leave their vacation stuff and the kids’ soccer gear in them. They’ll still want that convenience. The vehicles, however, will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways. The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents. . . .

Chicago Wants to Tax Lyft and Uber to Help Public Transit. Hmmm…


Chicago likes to think of itself as a “Silicon Prairie” hub of tech startups. And in a recent report on US “startup communities” and their readiness to capitalize on “next-wave startups,” the city ranked 14th. (Boston and the Bay Area were tops.)

So OK, but hardly impressive given both Chicago’s size and proximity to two elite universities, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Clearly city officials there, like their counterparts around the country, hope a winning bid for Amazon’s second headquarters might catapult them into the top tier.

Yet given all that, why on earth would Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel propose a tax on ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber? Seems sort of anti-tech. I mean, I get the basic reason: It’s a way of raising revenue for the city’s public transit system. But more broadly, the tax might be an effort to help bolster public transit in the face of a competitive threat from ride sharing companies. It’s becoming an evermore common story: Public transit problems boost Uber and Lyft, to the detriment of public transit.

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Uber has announced that, starting today, self-driving vehicles will be available to users of their service in San Francisco. My proposal: The IT department of ICE, with help from the NSA, should – “Stuxnet”-style – hack into Uber’s systems and create an “offer” of free transportation to anyone who can prove he is an illegal […]

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I just signed up to see if I can make some beer money between seasons.  (I’m a Field Hockey and Lacrosse Umpire from march to November).  Since I live smack between Chicago & Milwaukee, I’m not sure if there’s a big need for Uber in my home and work towns. I don’t believe I have […]

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When you take this job, do you say to yourself: I’m just a another cog in the giant machine. I’m earlier adopter.  Wow this is going to be easy, I don’t have to do anything. I’m just like Chuck Yeager and this is my chance to ride the envelope. Its better then being a Barista.  […]

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Driverless Car Valley: The Pittsburgh Model for Innovation


twenty20_bdf65ad4-99da-4864-bfff-3fee1ac5bfb4_pittsburgh-e1473711161177You don’t have to work in Silicon Valley or at the US Chamber of Commerce to think entrepreneurship is key to a nation’s economic growth and rising living standards. The Chinese government is a big fan, too. As a recent New York Times piece, “Venture Communism,” notes, “Premier Li Keqiang frequently calls for ‘mass entrepreneurship.’ In March at the National People’s Congress, he bragged that 12,000 new companies were founded each day in 2015.”

But of course Beijing isn’t going to leave everything up to the invisible hand and foot of free enterprise and competition and creative destruction. Government will be there to nudge things along. The piece highlights how the provincial capital of Hangzhou has started its own tech startup hub — with the on-the-nose same of Dream Town — where “businesses … get a slate of benefits like subsidized rent, cash handouts and special training, all courtesy of the city.”

Now this doesn’t sound a whole lot different from what a lot of American government officials think is needed to create their own mini-Silicon Valleys or innovation centers. In a 2014 Politico piece, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen describes the American flavor of the recipe this way:

Fast Cars and Freedom


shutterstock_152358593Rob Long — who makes his living thinking about new ways to make people watch TV shows — had great post yesterday on the disruption going on in the television world. Specifically, on how Netflix, the mother of all disruptors, is facing disruption from overseas expansion.

Television viewers are empowered now. Where once we had to schedule our time around the shows we wanted to watch, television now fits into our schedules. DVRs and on-demand streaming options are now the order of the day. My young sons look at the days when I had to get up on Saturday morning (and only on Saturday morning) to watch cartoons the way I once looked at the days when dairy products were delivered door-to-door.

We are entering an new age of personal empowerment. If I want to order something from Amazon, it usually shows up on my doorstep within two days through my Amazon Prime membership. If I need a lift, I call Lfyt or Uber. If I want to know if the hotel I’m staying in is dicey, I have Trip Advisor (and if it turns out that hotel is not right for me, AirBnB is able to provide an alternative place to rest for the the night).

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“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!” James Pethokoukis wrote another in a series of articles pointing to the disturbing downward trend in new business start-ups.  Preview Open

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That Wal-Mart Greeter May Drive You Home


shutterstock_342694016When the New York Yankees fired 70-year-old manager Casey Stengel in 1961, the team openly stated he was “too old for the job.” A resentful Stengel quipped: “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”

While many corporations are addressing ageism, most folks look to retirement as their time to slow down and reap the rewards of their lifes’ labor.

But for many, that choice may not be possible. When I lived in Las Vegas in the 1990s, a recurring and depressing reality was hopping into cabs driven by septuagenarians who volunteered they were once the proud owner of a healthy retirement fund, but … oh, that darned stock market, sports-books, tables, slots, etc. Instead of cruising Alaska or comfortably watching Wheel and Jeopardy!, they were now hauling gaggles of the inebriated for $5 tips.

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Item: Seattle passes law letting Uber, Lyft drivers unionize My first reaction was that both companies should say “goodbye Seattle, enjoy your taxi rides”. However, that’s unlikely – Seattle is a city that’s far too “techie”/”hipster” for either company to be able to bail out. Also, there would be an awful backlash in the court […]

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Six Things Your Uber Driver Wants You to Know


As I’ve alluded to in other comments, I’ve been a driver for Uber since mid-August, with almost 300 trips under my belt. I’m having more fun doing this gig than I thought I would, as the Uber demographic tends to be younger, smarter, and more outgoing than the population in general. Instead of what I expected — passengers sitting stoically, staring at the back of my head — most of my passengers are interesting and fun to talk to.

If You Think the Cabbies Are Mad Now…


shutterstock_148830743Buckle your seat belts, everybody. We’ve reached peak disruption: a story of the gig economy intersecting with the rise of the robots. From Thomas Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle:

From taxicab unions and package couriers to politicians and regulators, a growing crowd of people would like to destroy Uber. Add one more name to the list: Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

Somewhere lost in the scrum over whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors, or whether the company conducts proper background checks, is the simple fact that Kalanick wants to eventually replace all Uber drivers with software and computers. Like Google and Tesla, Uber is trying to develop a car that can drive without a human operator.

Safety Uber Alles


shutterstock_246422644On a the Friday episode of Radio Boston — WBUR’s local news show that is, like NPR itself, equally informative and insufferable — a guest comment perfectly encapsulated the wrong-headed way that the Left addresses problems. While discussing recent controversies regarding ride-sharing programs like Lyft and Uber, guest Shira Springer said (starts around 9’12” into the file for the whole show):

I feel sorry for the taxi drivers in that respect, but I am for regulation. I do think Lyft and Uber need to somehow be regulated. And I’m speaking here as a single woman who is fearful of contacting an Uber driver and having them come and pick me up. Let’s be honest: there have been cases locally and globally where sexual assault [has] taken place with Uber pick ups. And so you have to kind of be conscious and aware of the consequences, perhaps, of calling a driver to your home or having a driver drop you off at your home and not having them have… a background check.

Of course, Uber and Lyft do require background checks, though they’re (apparently) not as rigorous as those for bus, taxi, and livery drivers in Massachusetts. Asked if requiring them to meet those standards would change her mind, Springer responded:

Uber and the Costs of Employment Regulation


shutterstock_251175352Uber and its customers are rightly concerned over a recent ruling out of California that calls into question whether the company’s drivers can continue to be classified as independent contractors. As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, however, the problem runs much deeper than just the application of California law. The entire legal framework is ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of modern labor markets:

The clear lesson to learn from this fiasco is that it is a hopeless task to apply traditional regulatory structures to modern arrangements, especially when they block the implementation of new business models. Indeed, it is necessary to go one step further: it makes no sense to apply these regulatory statutes to older businesses, too. Time after time, these statutes are drafted with some “typical” arrangement in mind, only for the drafters to discover that they must also try to apply the statutes to nonstandard transactions that do not fit within the mold. Rigidity is not just a problem today. It was a problem with the [Fair Labor Standards Act] and other New Deal labor statutes even when they were first passed.

This point is unfortunately lost on a lot of modern commentators who think that their real challenge is only to update the employment laws for the sharing economy, rather than scrap them altogether. For example, James Surowiecki, writing in the New Yorker, comes out in favor of “Gigs with Benefits,” a great title for a bad idea. He rightly notes the scads of critics who claim that Uber is disguising its employees as independent contractors are wrong, and he recognizes that calling Uber drivers employees could be the death knell for many of these gigs.