Uber and the "sharing economy"

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Full disclosure: I am a member of Union Cab, a worker owned and operated cooperative in Madison Wisconsin.

I listen to Thom's radio show on 92.1 while I am driving my cab and the cognitive dissonance of listening to Thom, a man I admire and mostly agree with on just about everything, doing the narration for an Uber ad is driving me nuts. I understand the importance of ad revenue, but I have to believe Thom just is not aware of how shady and nefarious Uber and the "sharing economy" in general is, or he wouldn't be advertising for them.

Here are a few articles to get the conversation started:

The following is a link to an article by Robert Reich, titled The share-the-scraps economy:

http://robertreich.org/post/109894095095

This article is a good overview of the flaws and exploitation in the Uber business model:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-reasons-im-board-uber-george-hobica

Yet another reason to eschew Uber:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/cheap-cab-ride-uber...

This is a link to a website which contains information about an ongoing class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Uber drivers in california:

http://uberlawsuit.com/

Why is Uber fighting so hard to keep their drivers classed as "independent contractors"? Answer: So they can do an end run around federal labor law.

Uber came to Madison wisconsin and began operating illegally in violation of local taxi ordinances. This is their basic MO when entering a market. Their first ploy was to claim that they were not a taxi service at all since their drivers only accepted "donations" and therefore could not be regulated as such. This was ridiculous on the face of it. The Madison city council and the Mayor were slow to react to this intrusion into the local transportation market, but finally got around to passing new language for the general ordinance 11.06, the city ordinance which regulates the taxi business in Madison. One week later legislation was introduced to the state assembly, jammed through under "emergency rules' procedures, passed in the house and senate in record time with barely a chance for anyone to offer amendments or debate the merits and on the governor's desk 3 weeks later. Our reviled governor Scott Walker signed it into law. The new state law preempted the right of local municipalities to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), like Uber and Lyft. It's a poor law with weak regulations. The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), a Walker ceation, is tasked in the bill with handling complaints. The DSPS is an underfunded, understaffed, state agency that is unlikely to enforce much of anything. Anybody have any doubts that checks were written to get that bill passed so quickly?

Again, I understand how important ad revenue is, but advertising for Uber on a progressive talk show is like advertising for the Heartland Institute.

In fact Americans For Prosperity (A Koch lobbying front group) weighed in on Uber's side when the City Of Madison was crafting a new ordinance to allow Uber to operate legally in the city of madison:

https://wcmcoop.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/afp1.png

Uber is an exploitative business model. It is antithetical to worker's rights.

Travis Kalanick, the ceo of Uber, is an Ayn Rand acolyte.

https://pando.com/2012/10/24/travis-shrugged/

Need I say more?

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Comments

I agree, the so-called "sharing economy" seems like a Libertarian answer to our economic problems. Boss ain't paying you a living wage? No problem! Just rent out all the spare rooms in your house to supplement your meager income.

Just ignore the fact that your CEOs salary has risen to unprecedented level in the last 30 years, along with worker productivity, while worker pay remains flat or in decline. We 99% should just fight amongst ourselves for the table scraps, and if some middle man like Uber can make a buck off of it, then all the better!

I'm not against people being able to rent out their homes or cars if they really wish to, but I suspect most people are being forced to due to economic circumstances. The whole thing sounds like a diversion to stop us from focusing on real economic change. I know several people in the software development and accounting/bookkeeping fields that are unable to find good paying jobs, but the skill requirements list keeps growing.

I don't think the so-called sharing economy is going to go away, but it's not a panacea either. It's more of a "look at my left hand, while my right hand continues to pick your pocket" solution. We need to break up monopolies and ensure that CEOs aren't just running companies to personally enrich themselves, not build a dog-eat-dog economy where everyone competes for the table scraps.

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marriott79
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

If someone has already bought a car that qualifies under Uber's requirements and they would be making those payments anyway and they purchase commercial insurance (something few Uber drivers probably do) and they just want to drive for Uber for supplemental income... more power to them. It's a free country. I would never drive for them, just as I would never work for Walmart or shop there. Their drivers have none of the protections of federal labor law. When they agree to Uber's contract they sign away their rights. I have sympathy for their drivers as by and large they are just people trying to scrape by. The fact that workers are being forced to make deals with devils like Uber is symptomatic of what is wrong with our topsy turvy economy. It's just one more way for the billionaires to exploit the working classes.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

Coming from the other side, I find Hartmann to be very hypocritical on a number of issues. It's called, do as I say, not as I do, and a common trait among radio talking heads.

Anything for a buck.

Dexterous's picture
Dexterous
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Apr. 9, 2013 8:35 am

I am hoping it is not anything for a buck.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

Uber drivers are clearly not employees. They work when they want and don't when the don't. If I want to make some extra money in my free time by giving people rides who are you to say I can not?

This push against Uber is nothing more than a protected industry trying to use the power of government to shut out competition. Crony capitalism at it's finest.

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gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am

All very true....... Unless you produce a radio show and devote a Lot of time ranting that the Republicans have destroyed union membership and everything possible should be done to support and promote unions, ten minutes later you pull your Chinese slave labor made I-Phone, page a non-union driver only to pay him with your Bank of America credit card.

That's "do as I say, not as I do" at it's finest.

Dexterous's picture
Dexterous
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Apr. 9, 2013 8:35 am

Bullshit.

Your insurance company for one will gave something to say about running an unlicensed taxi.

There are competitive tax services in existence already so, no, government isn't shutting out competition.

Uber controls the rates, you don't, and uber will phucque riders at various times for various reasons. Uber also controls what you get as a driver.

Read Steven Fraser's "Raw Deal: How The Uber Economy and Runaway Capitalism are Screwing the American Worker."

big bird's picture
big bird
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote big bird:

Bullshit.

Your insurance company for one will gave something to say about running an unlicensed taxi.

There are competitive tax services in existence already so, no, government isn't shutting out competition.

Uber controls the rates, you don't, and uber will phucque riders at various times for various reasons. Uber also controls what you get as a driver.

Read Steven Fraser's "Raw Deal: How The Uber Economy and Runaway Capitalism are Screwing the American Worker."

80% of the fare gos to the driver.

The competition was limited by government. That is why taxi medalions were going for 100k a pop in some cities not that long ago, there was only a limited amount available. This presented a barrier of entry to competition.

Crony capitalism at its finest.

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gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am

Steven Hill.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

To be fair, there is no sharp, bright line between employee and independent contractor. This is a matter for the courts to decide. TNC drivers have some of the attributes of employees and some of the attributes of independent contractors.

The IRS has a 20 question guide for determining status for tax purposes:

http://www.angelo.edu/services/sbdc/documents/library_resources/IRS%2020...

A jury trial is set to begin on June 20th 2016 after the court denied Uber's request to delay the trial.

http://uberlawsuit.com/

Hopefully the jury will side with working people. If they do you'll see the Uber bubble pop overnight. Their 62 billion dollar valuation is based on exploiting the drivers.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

To be fair, there is no sharp, bright line between employee and independent contractor. This is a matter for the courts to decide. TNC drivers have some of the attributes of employees and some of the attributes of independent contractors.

The IRS has a 20 question guide for determining status for tax purposes:

http://www.angelo.edu/services/sbdc/documents/library_resources/IRS%2020...

A jury trial is set to begin on June 20th 2016 after the court denied Uber's request to delay the trial.

http://uberlawsuit.com/

Hopefully the jury will side with working people. If they do you'll see the Uber bubble pop overnight. Their 62 billion dollar valuation is based on exploiting the drivers.

What if someone does not want to be an employee and only use the Uber matchmaking service on occasion to make a few extra bucks? Who are you to say no to them? Who are you to decide that they are being exploited by getting 80% of the fare?

Hopefully the courts will see through this charade for what it is, using the power of government to shut down competition.

gumball's picture
gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am

Read the book. Your understanding is limited.

big bird's picture
big bird
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Steven Hill.

sorry, my mistake. you are correct. i was locked onto the name of the author of "age of acquiescence."

big bird's picture
big bird
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

No problem. Thank you for the recommendation.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

Hot off the presses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYwMwa_6wW0

Uber is not a reputable company.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am
Quote big bird:

Read the book. Your understanding is limited.

Why not use your own words on why government should limit competition to protect entrenched business interests?

gumball's picture
gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am

Interview with Steven hill, Author of: How the 'Uber Economy' and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRp9GFid3h4

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

Good explanation of what an Uber driver really earns:

My Non-variables:
Base rate = $0.50
Mileage rate = $1.00 per mile
Time rate = $0.17 per minute
SRF per trip = $1.00
Cost per mile to drive car = $0.32
No surge rates
No guarantee bonuses

My Variables:
Average miles per hour driving: 30 MPH (average includes time spent while stopped, i.e. traffic lights, waiting for customer, etc...)
Downtime per hour: zero (meaning no waiting for pings, driver is 100% utilized by Uber system)
Ratio of dead miles to billable miles: 50%
Trips per hour: 3

  • 30 miles driven in an hour with 50% being billable produces 15 billable miles per hour.
  • At $1.00 per mile, that produces $15.00 in mileage revenue per hour.
  • Zero downtime per hour produces 60 minutes of work per hour.
  • 50% ratio of dead miles to billable miles produces 30 minutes of billable minutes per hour.
  • At $0.17 per minute, 30 minutes of billable minutes per hour produces $5.10 in time revenue per hour.
  • 3 trips per hour at $0.50 base rate per trip produces $1.50 in base rate revenue per hour.
  • 3 trips per hour at $1.00 SRF per trip produces $3.00 in SRFs per hour.

$15.00 in mileage revenue per hour, plus $5.10 in time revenue per hour, plus $1.50 in base rate revenue per hour, plus, $3.00 in SRFs per hour equals $24.60 in gross fares per hour.

  • $24.60 minus $3.00 in SRFs equals $21.60 per hour.
  • $21.60 minus Ubers 20% commission (20% of $21.60) equals $17.28 per hour.

Uber driver will receive $17.28 payment from Uber from the $24.60 gross fares per hour.

  • 30 miles driven per hour with a cost of $0.32 per mile equals $9.60 in costs.
  • $17.28 per hour minus $9.60 in costs equals $7.68 per hour.

Uber driver will profit only $7.68 per hour on $24.60 in gross fares, which Uber calls "Driver Earnings".

http://uberpeople.net/threads/math-1-00-mile-7-68-per-hour-at-best.14459/

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porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

Porches, I probably shouldn’t be surprised to find a dissenting post from a taxi driver here on Thom’s website after hearing Thom's plug for Uber. Having read a lengthy article in The Nation about Uber, I was very taken back by those endorsements, knowing how this screws legitimate cab drivers like yourself who jump through the hoops and pay the fees to earn & keep their legitimate status.

I also recall how predatory and anti-union Uber’s business model is. Yeah, I hope Thom gets educated about this issue, because his plugs for Uber are at sharp odds with his generally pro-union positions.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland
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Mar. 10, 2011 9:42 am

I was appalled to hear my favourite staunch champion of the middle-class doing an Uber commercial! Uber is NOT an honorable company, and if Thom or his staff need ANY information about the issue they need look no further than this message board.

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leftradio
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Thank you Alice. Uber started with a seemingly good idea, but once you scratched beneath the surface the reality was very different. We fought against Uber at the city and then the state level. Our war chest was honesty and integrity and the lint in our pockets. It was ridiculous to hear Uber and their media mouthpieces talk about "big taxi". Seeing up close how the Uber lobby and their lawyers were able to easily manipulate state lawmakers was disheartening. Even Democratic representatives in the assembly did not understand who and what they were supporting. But no one can really claim ignorance anymore. Uber is a predatory company with little to no regard for either their "driver partners" or their customers. That much is clear with only a small investment of time reading about them.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Quote leftradio:

I was appalled to hear my favourite staunch champion of the middle-class doing an Uber commercial! Uber is NOT an honorable company, and if Thom or his staff need ANY information about the issue they need look no further than this message board.

Thank you leftradio. I love living and working in Madison WI. The people here are informed and care about what is good, right and true. Union cab has a loyal customer base that understands we are a worker owned and operated cooperative. Our business model fits Madison values. We are the only cab company in town that offers health insurance for it's workers. We are the only cab company that complies with the ADA requirements to provide on demand Accessible Taxi Service to the disabled community. We are not just a taxi company. Following are the core principles of Union Cab Cooperative as codified in our governing documents:

Mission Statement

The Mission of Union Cab Cooperative shall be to create jobs at a living wage or better in a safe, humane, and democratic environment by providing quality transportation services in the greater Madison area.

Vision Statement

The Vision of Union Cab Cooperative shall be to serve the community in such a way that we are recognized as a sustainable asset and valued resource by all.

Core Values

  • The safety and health of our members and the public are of paramount importance.
  • We are dedicated to the principles of worker rights and membership responsibilities.
  • Open and honest communication and direct involvement are our rights and responsibility as members.
  • Managing growth carefully is fundamental to creating quality in our work life and fostering a strong sense of community.
  • A living wage at a 40-hour work week is a priority.
  • Customer satisfaction is everyone's job and is critical for our success.
  • We are dedicated to operating our business in an environmentally responsible way.

These principles guide our decision making process at every step.

Contrast these sorts of guiding principles with the business model and practices of the TNCs like Uber and Lyft and the differences are apparent. We believe Madisonians and the residents of Dane county if given the information they need to make an informed choice will choose us every time over the TNCs.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Quote leftradio:

... if Thom or his staff need ANY information about the issue they need look no further than this message board.

So I did a search of the board and found a number of threads on this very topic. When I tried to bump one of them I got an automated message that I was posting identical content and spamming the board.

My eyes have been opened. I honestly posted the OP with the presumption that Thom must not have all the facts about the sharing economy and what it means for workers. I am now pretty thoroughly doubtful that is the case and I am wondering about where Thom's allegiances lie. It grieves me to say this. Reading Thom's wikipedia page it is pretty apparent Thom is most likely a very wealthy man. If not the 1%, at least quite probably the 5%. This of course does not necessarily mean he is anti-worker or an evil capitalist, but it suggests that he may well have other reasons for plugging Uber than a bit of ad revenue. Uber's latest valuation is 62 billion. That valuation is based on two things: Uber's exploitation of It's "driver partners" and the investing classes belief that others will continue to invest and drive Uber's stock price even higher. At a certain level the billionaire investor class are all tied together. They sit on each other's boards, they make common cause when it suits their interests and the little people get trampled under their feet. No amount of philanthropy after the fact can make up for supporting this way of doing business. Make a deal with the devil and throw a few dollars to a deserving charitable cause to assuage your conscience? Such noblesse oblige is quaint these days, but that's the gist I am getting.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Good explanation of what an Uber driver really earns:

My Non-variables:
Base rate = $0.50
Mileage rate = $1.00 per mile
Time rate = $0.17 per minute
SRF per trip = $1.00
Cost per mile to drive car = $0.32
No surge rates
No guarantee bonuses

My Variables:
Average miles per hour driving: 30 MPH (average includes time spent while stopped, i.e. traffic lights, waiting for customer, etc...)
Downtime per hour: zero (meaning no waiting for pings, driver is 100% utilized by Uber system)
Ratio of dead miles to billable miles: 50%
Trips per hour: 3

  • 30 miles driven in an hour with 50% being billable produces 15 billable miles per hour.
  • At $1.00 per mile, that produces $15.00 in mileage revenue per hour.
  • Zero downtime per hour produces 60 minutes of work per hour.
  • 50% ratio of dead miles to billable miles produces 30 minutes of billable minutes per hour.
  • At $0.17 per minute, 30 minutes of billable minutes per hour produces $5.10 in time revenue per hour.
  • 3 trips per hour at $0.50 base rate per trip produces $1.50 in base rate revenue per hour.
  • 3 trips per hour at $1.00 SRF per trip produces $3.00 in SRFs per hour.

$15.00 in mileage revenue per hour, plus $5.10 in time revenue per hour, plus $1.50 in base rate revenue per hour, plus, $3.00 in SRFs per hour equals $24.60 in gross fares per hour.

  • $24.60 minus $3.00 in SRFs equals $21.60 per hour.
  • $21.60 minus Ubers 20% commission (20% of $21.60) equals $17.28 per hour.

Uber driver will receive $17.28 payment from Uber from the $24.60 gross fares per hour.

  • 30 miles driven per hour with a cost of $0.32 per mile equals $9.60 in costs.
  • $17.28 per hour minus $9.60 in costs equals $7.68 per hour.

Uber driver will profit only $7.68 per hour on $24.60 in gross fares, which Uber calls "Driver Earnings".

http://uberpeople.net/threads/math-1-00-mile-7-68-per-hour-at-best.14459/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/johanabhuiyan/what-uber-drivers-really-make-acco...

This article paints a different picture though it will obviously vary greatly depending on location and the hours that a driver is working. The same is true of cab drivers I would think?

From these examples it looks like really good pay for part time unskilled labor.

gumball's picture
gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Thank you Alice. Uber started with a seemingly good idea, but once you scratched beneath the surface the reality was very different. We fought against Uber at the city and then the state level. Our war chest was honesty and integrity and the lint in our pockets. It was ridiculous to hear Uber and their media mouthpieces talk about "big taxi". Seeing up close how the Uber lobby and their lawyers were able to easily manipulate state lawmakers was disheartening. Even Democratic representatives in the assembly did not understand who and what they were supporting. But no one can really claim ignorance anymore. Uber is a predatory company with little to no regard for either their "driver partners" or their customers. That much is clear with only a small investment of time reading about them.

Your "warchest was honesty and integrity"? Your goal is to use the power of government to shut down competition. The cab industry is losing many of these battles in cities because people prefer the Uber model over the cab industries model. There has been a number of times where I have called a cab and waited for hours with no idea when one will show up. Then you call back and you get a "soon" response and then wait for more.... With Uber their app shows you exactly where the car that is coming to you.

Ever have a cabbie throw a fit when you wanted to pay with a credit card? I have literally been cussed at for not paying in cash. Every single time I have taken a cab it was less than clean and smelled not so great.... Some drivers are very courteous and polite, others rude and dismissive. You never know what you are going to get when you call a cab.

The inevitable decline when you have a government protected industry and now they are throwing a fit when that protected industry is threatened by competition and run to government to shut down rivals instead of improving their own service.

That is why the cab industry is losing this fight. Because people want the service that Uber offers and object when their government is used to prevent them from using that service.

gumball's picture
gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am
Quote gumball:Your "warchest was honesty and integrity"? Your goal is to use the power of government to shut down competition.
General Ordinance 11.06 regulates the taxi industry in Madison Wisconsin where I live and work as a cab driver, something I disclosed in the first sentence of this thread. (What is your skin in this game?) General Ordinance 11.06 is entirely a set of regulations which protect the consumer. Uber arrived in town and simply ignored the local ordinances. This created a situation where the traditional taxi cab companies were having to compete on an unlevel playing field with Uber, as well as creating a wild west where the consumer using Uber had none of the protections of law. And no, the answer wasn't to deregulate everybody. I don't want to live in your everybody-for-themselves zero sum Randian society. Thanks. When the City finally recrafted the ordinance to allow Uber to operate legally, our rethuglican controlled legislature passed a law disallowing municipalities to regulate Uber. Hypocrits. I thought they were all for "local control". I guess local control goes out the window when checks are being written.

Quote gumball:The cab industry is losing many of these battles in cities because people prefer the Uber model over the cab industries model.
If the battle was being fought on a level playing field, I might agree. But it's not. At least here in Wisconsin the state government has ceated a situation where Uber can operate practically unregulated. The state law "regulating" the Tranportation Network Companies (TNCs) is intentionally weak and the Department of Safety and Professional Services, tasked with implenting and enforcing the provisions of the law, is a toothless prop. For instance, the state law states that drivers (or Uber on their behalf..pfftt) must inform there insurance companies that they are driving for Uber, but there are no licenses issued to drivers which require them to do so. Guess what? Most Uber drivers are effectively driving without insurance since their insurance policies are void if they have not informed their insurance carrier that they are driving for a TNC. People are going to get hurt and there will be no insurance to help.

Quote gumball:There has been a number of times where I have called a cab and waited for hours with no idea when one will show up. Then you call back and you get a "soon" response and then wait for more.... With Uber their app shows you exactly where the car that is coming to you.

You can order a taxi from Union Cab of madison online and track your cabs progress as it makes it's way to you. We get to ~ 80% of our on demand calls within 15 minutes or less and to our time calls within 5 minutes or less. We will shortly go live with an app that will have all the bells and whistles of Uber's app. I sometimes wish prima donas such as yourself could come and watch our office work on a busy Saturday night. Trying to get to everyone who calls us in 15 minutes or less is virtually impossible. But we by law have to take every call and put them in a queue and try to service them as quickly as possible. When an Uber user opens Uber's app on a busy Saturday night and there are no vehicles available the user just waits until a vehicle near them comes free. But the user doesn't count that as wait time. We on the other hand cannot just tell a customer when they call, "Sorry, there are no vehicles available at this time. Please call back."

Quote gumball:Ever have a cabbie throw a fit when you wanted to pay with a credit card? I have literally been cussed at for not paying in cash. Every single time I have taken a cab it was less than clean and smelled not so great.... Some drivers are very courteous and polite, others rude and dismissive. You never know what you are going to get when you call a cab.
I'm guessing you live in a fairly large city. Make no mistake, cab drivers are not all angels by any stretch of the imagination. But at least they have proper background checks. The gold standard for background checks require fingerprints. All cities require this FBI level background check, for good reason. Uber's background check does not require fingerprints. Follow the link for a list of Uber/TNC incidents that is hardly comprehensive: http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/rideshare-incidents

Quote gumball:The inevitable decline when you have a government protected industry and now they are throwing a fit when that protected industry is threatened by competition and run to government to shut down rivals instead of improving their own service.

The taxi cab industry is not "goverment protected". The regulations which govern the taxi cab industry are there to protect the consumer. They only act as a bar to entry to the market to companies which do not want to comply with sensible regulations. I will, however, grant you that the competition has spurred the taxi industry to step up it's game and that is nothing but good for the consumer.

Quote gumball:That is why the cab industry is losing this fight. Because people want the service that Uber offers and object when their government is used to prevent them from using that service.

Regulations are there to protect the consumer. Uber clearly does not give a rat's ass about the consumer. They care about their bottom line and investor roi. Period. If government serves to prevent Uber from operating unregulated it is to protect the consumer, not the taxi cab industry.

porches-n-titchforks's picture
porches-n-titchforks
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Feb. 11, 2016 9:06 am

My cab rides were in big cities while traveling, I understand that most cities have limits on the number of Taxis that can operate and that they would go for 100k in some cases. How often have you gotten into a cab where the driver looked nothing like their picture?

Many industries have colluded with government to create a regulatory body to "protect consumers" that have evolved into creating a barrier to entry for competing companies. Crony capitalism at it's finest.

How am I supposed to be online while I'm siting at a bar? Call me a prima dona but if one company is offering a service that tells me where they are and when they will get there from an app on my phone I'm going to use that service. Uber has been out now for a couple years and cab companies are just getting around to an app now? Could it be the competition that they have brought to the marketplace led to your company making these changes?

I do not need you to protect me, I am an adult capable of making my own choices. I have had a number of negative experiences with cabs, I have never had a negative experience with Uber. Who are you to tell me I can not make my own choice? That government must tell me what service provider I chose to use?

gumball's picture
gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 10:02 am

Having a poorly regulated and/or poorly ran cab services is no reason to allow lax regulation coupled with sham independendent contractor agreements to exist.

Moving toward the new "Uber Economy" is just another dangerous step toward fewer worker rights and wealth inequality.

Promoting and advocating for such an industry is incompatible with a progressive, Socialistic political stance. An alternative would be a movement to a worker owned co-op or worker directed enterprise model as Marxist professor and frequent Hartmann guest Richard Wolff advocates.

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droby2011
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May. 22, 2012 12:06 pm
Quote gumball:

My cab rides were in big cities while traveling, I understand that most cities have limits on the number of Taxis that can operate and that they would go for 100k in some cases. How often have you gotten into a cab where the driver looked nothing like their picture?

Never. And I doubt you have either. You certainly haven't in Madison Wisconsin. You don't drive a taxi in Madison Wisconsin without the MPD issuing you a license with a recent photo on it. And you don't get the initial license without providing fingerprints.

Quote gumball:Many industries have colluded with government to create a regulatory body to "protect consumers" that have evolved into creating a barrier to entry for competing companies. Crony capitalism at it's finest.

Examples? This is a link to Madison's General Ordinance 11.06. You'll have to scroll down. These are the regulations for the taxi industry. https://www.municode.com/library/wi/madison/codes/code_of_ordinances?nod...

What part of those regulations do you find unneccesary or onerous? What part of those regulations should Uber not have to comply with? and Why?

Quote gumball:How am I supposed to be online while I'm siting at a bar?

Do you have a smartphone?

Quote gumball:Call me a prima dona but if one company is offering a service that tells me where they are and when they will get there from an app on my phone I'm going to use that service. Uber has been out now for a couple years and cab companies are just getting around to an app now? Could it be the competition that they have brought to the marketplace led to your company making these changes?

Yes. That and our customers have expressed a desire for it.

Quote gumball: I do not need you to protect me, I am an adult capable of making my own choices. I have had a number of negative experiences with cabs, I have never had a negative experience with Uber.

Many people have had VERY negative experiences with Uber. Am I supposed to take your personal experience as being representative? Just one week after the state legislature passed the law barring the city of madison from regulating Uber there were two sexual assaults by Uber drivers on young college aged women. Uber refused to release the identity of the drivers to the MPD so that they could get these predators off the street. One of them fled the country.

Quote gumball:Who are you to tell me I can not make my own choice? That government must tell me what service provider I chose to use?

I am not telling you that you cannot make your own choice. I am suggesting you could make a better choice than support a predatory, disreputable company like Uber. I wouldn't tell you that you can't shop at Walmart either. But I wouldn't respect your decision if you do. I am not suggesting the goverment should tell you which service provider to use. I am saying that there are sensible regulations in place to protect the consumer and this is a basic function of government and Uber is operating virtually unregulated. That's an Ayn Randian, dog eat dog world that I don't want to live in.

Taxi's are a quasi public utility. We drive vulnerable people. Just think if criminals were driving cabs... drive someone to the airport? You know they are not home. Drunk, passed out college girl in your backseat? Leave your phone, wallet in a cab? Driving people not familiar with the city? Longer routes? With a cab company we have a local office. You can call and complain to us and we have to by law keep a record of the complaint and it's disposition. Not satisfied? File a complaint with the city, which can demand our records at any time. If one of our drivers was accused of a sexual assault, we would immediately provide the identity of the driver to law enforcement and would cooperate in every way to find that driver.

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porches-n-titchforks
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Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Am I supposed to take your personal experience as being representative?

Nope, you do not have to. Just don't try to use the power of government to make the choice for me.

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Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Taxi's are a quasi public utility. We drive vulnerable people. Just think if criminals were driving cabs... drive someone to the airport? You know they are not home. Drunk, passed out college girl in your backseat? Leave your phone, wallet in a cab? Driving people not familiar with the city? Longer routes? With a cab company we have a local office. You can call and complain to us and we have to by law keep a record of the complaint and it's disposition. Not satisfied? File a complaint with the city, which can demand our records at any time. If one of our drivers was accused of a sexual assault, we would immediately provide the identity of the driver to law enforcement and would cooperate in every way to find that driver.

That sounds like a good marketing pitch, use that instead of going to government to shut down competing services.

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Quote porches-n-titchforks:
Quote gumball:Many industries have colluded with government to create a regulatory body to "protect consumers" that have evolved into creating a barrier to entry for competing companies. Crony capitalism at it's finest.

Examples?

Why do you think many cities limit the number of Taxi cabs that can operate?

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gumball
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Quote gumball:
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Am I supposed to take your personal experience as being representative?

Nope, you do not have to. Just don't try to use the power of government to make the choice for me.

Are you including our judicial system in your definiton of "government?" Do you believe government should not impose any regulations on corporations designed to protect workers and consumers? If not, and you believe as I do that government has a right and a responsiblity to enact and enforce laws and regulations which protect workers and consumers then you have to concede that one of the last bastions where we the people can force reluctant governments and corporations to obey the law is in the courts. Uber just recently settled in court over a suit which alleged they were making erroneous claims in their advertsing, namely, that their background checks were "industry leading". It is against the law in Wisconsin to make false claims in advertising. Their background checks are clearly not industry leading, since they do not require fingerprinting, which most if not all taxi companies require. They agreed to refund the "safe rides" fee they had been charging customers and change the wording of the fee from "safe rides fee" to "booking fee". History shows what happens when industries are unregulated. It's never good for the workers, the consumers or the environment or indeed, in the long run, for the economy.

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porches-n-titchforks
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Regulations to protect workers and consumers I do agree with, regulations to protect favored industries I do not.

Technology has moved us past many of the regulations around the cab industry. Uber has built a system that allows users to rate drivers and driver to rate users. A system that tracks when and where a person is picked up, the route they take and the time they get there. All this information creates a level of safety and honesty that was not present.

When you hail or call a cab you never knew who you were going to get, what the cost would be, if the driver took you the "long way" to your destination. The driver never knew the name of or the ability to pay of the person they were picking up. That created an unsafe environment so regulations were needed.

These regulations evolved into a system of quasi monopoly where government limited the number of cabs and regulated the fees. That is why the customer service was so horrid in the view of many of its users, they had no other choice and the cab industry was complacent. Why bother with maintaining a clean and friendly service when your customers had no other choice?

Uber has created a service that challenged the monopoly and the entrenched interests are going to government to shut out this competition. Crony Capitalism at it's finest.

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Quote gumball:
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Taxi's are a quasi public utility. We drive vulnerable people. Just think if criminals were driving cabs... drive someone to the airport? You know they are not home. Drunk, passed out college girl in your backseat? Leave your phone, wallet in a cab? Driving people not familiar with the city? Longer routes? With a cab company we have a local office. You can call and complain to us and we have to by law keep a record of the complaint and it's disposition. Not satisfied? File a complaint with the city, which can demand our records at any time. If one of our drivers was accused of a sexual assault, we would immediately provide the identity of the driver to law enforcement and would cooperate in every way to find that driver.

That sounds like a good marketing pitch

You mean that we comply with sensible regulations and Uber operates de facto unregulated?

, use that instead of going to government to shut down competing services.

Sigh. Look man, if you really want that then can you be more specific about what you consider to fall under the rubric of, "going to government to shut down competing services". Surely you must mean something other than asking government to enact and enforce regulations which protect workers and consumers.

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Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Sigh. Look man, if you really want that then can you be more specific about what you consider to fall under the rubric of, "going to government to shut down competing services". Surely you must mean something other than asking government to enact and enforce regulations which protect workers and consumers.

Do you really think that is what the taxi cab industries goal is here? They are only concerned about protecting consumers and workers and there goal is not to maintain their monopoly? Please....

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I do not know much about, nor really care about Madison taxi regulation. All I know is what I have had personal experience with. The majority of the times I have used Taxis in the past were negative experiences, I could not wait to get out of the car. Every time, with out exception, I have used Uber it was a good experience.

That is why I and others are choosing Uber over taxis. That is why politicians are not coming to the taxi lobby's defense, their voters want this service.

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gumball
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Quote gumball:
Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Sigh. Look man, if you really want that then can you be more specific about what you consider to fall under the rubric of, "going to government to shut down competing services". Surely you must mean something other than asking government to enact and enforce regulations which protect workers and consumers.

Do you really think that is what the taxi cab industries goal is here? They are only concerned about protecting consumers and workers and there goal is not to maintain their monopoly? Please....

I understand your skepticism. But if you worked in an industry that was regulated and a competitor entered your market and just ignored local regulations and then manipulated and colluded with government lawmakers to craft a weak set of regulations with little to no enforcement and little to no penalty even if found guilty what would you think of that? What would you do? In this instance, the interests of the consumer and the taxi industry coincide.

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porches-n-titchforks
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Quote gumball:

I do not know much about, nor really care about Madison taxi regulation.

I can understand why you are being so dodgy. I guess you will just have to take my word for it then when I cite it.
Quote gumball:All I know is what I have had personal experience with. The majority of the times I have used Taxis in the past were negative experiences, I could not wait to get out of the car. Every time, with out exception, I have used Uber it was a good experience.
Lucky for you. Your experience is not representative. This webpage: http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/rideshare-incidents contains a partial list of documented incidents with Uber. You'll have to burn a couple of calories and move your cursor over to the link and open it and read it.

Quote gumball:That is why politicians are not coming to the taxi lobby's defense, their voters want this service.

Now it's my turn to say, please... The Uber lobby dwarf the taxi lobby. They have virtually limitless resources. You think checks aren't being written?

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porches-n-titchforks
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Not trying to be dodgy, I truly do not care about Madison's taxi regulations. Uber provides a service I vastly prefer over taxis. Judging by the decline in taxis rides and the rapid increase in Uber ridership it would seem many agree with me.

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To get back to other matters.... why is Thom doing ads for Uber if he is aware of the issues I have raised in this thread, especially the threat to American workers that the gig economy poses by doing an end run around federal labor law? Am I to believe Thom secretly is an Ayn Rand follower? I have to believe Thom is aware of everything I have brought up in this thread. And I believe he is smart enough to understand the implications. I don't know. Maybe Thom is as vulnerable to cognitive dissonance as everyone else. But going on the the previous assumption then the only logical conclusion is that he is being compelled to do the ads. Both Thom and Stephanie Miller, who also does ads for Uber, are syndicated by Westwood One, which is owned by Cumulus Media. I am guessing that at some higher level an agreement was reached and through a moral calculus of the greatest good for the greatest number of people Thom decided that on balance it was better to do the ads than ruffle ownership. This could all be done without conspiracies in dark, smoke filled rooms. It would happen the same way that it does in a news organization. There are unwritten understandings between journalists and management/editors/ownership which stories to cover and how and which stories not to cover. If you want to retain your job or rise in the ranks then you figure out these unwritten rules and follow them.

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Quote gumball:

Judging by the decline in taxis rides and the rapid increase in Uber ridership it would seem many agree with me.

It's new and flashy. It's also unsustainable. Eventually a better, more humane version will come along and replace them. That's why they are trying to move so fast in capturing the market. If they can drive their regulation abiding competitors out of business quickly enough that will leave cities at their mercy for a transportation solution. We are doing just fine. Trimmed our overhead a bit. We are financially sound. We made a profit in January.

Look... Walmart is a smashing success too. And many people that shop there have a marvelous experience. Am I supposed to celebrate that many Americans are so poor that they have to buy goods made for slave wages in third world countries or from a company that exploits it's workers? Being socially conscious and responsible can be expensive. But what's the price you want to place on your values and integrity?

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porches-n-titchforks
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Quote gumball:

Regulations to protect workers and consumers I do agree with, regulations to protect favored industries I do not.

Fair enough. But I feel you are making a category error. I posted a link to the city of Madison's taxi regulations. What part of those regulations do you feel is there to protect the Taxi industry and not the consumer?

Quote gumball: Technology has moved us past many of the regulations around the cab industry. Uber has built a system that allows users to rate drivers and driver to rate users.
The rating system sounds like a good idea on the face of it, but it has a number of downsides as well. Can you imagine your job security relying on the ratings of a carload of drunk, bratty sorority girls unhappy because you weren't quite obsequious enough or someone unhappy because they were in a hurry and you didn't run a stop sign for them? Driver ratings of passengers has a downside too. It is a way for drivers to redline poor and mostly minority communities, something we by law cannot do (see link to madison General Ordinance 11.06). Evidence exists that this is taking place. All you have to do is open their app and look at where their drivers don't go.
Quote gumball:A system that tracks when and where a person is picked up, the route they take and the time they get there.
We have had this functionality at Union Cab of Madison for several years now as have the other companies in Madison. And before we had GPS tracking there were always paper records that we had to keep. That also is in the ordinance I provided a link to.
Quote gumball:All this information creates a level of safety and honesty that was not present.
Not true. It was always present.

Quote gumball: When you hail or call a cab you never knew who you were going to get,
True. But at least you knew that they did not have a criminal history that would disallow them from getting a permit.
Quote gumball:what the cost would be,
You have always been able to get a quote from us and I imagine all taxi cab companies have always provided quotes when requested. There are two types of business models for the traditional taxi cab industry here in Madison. One is a lease, shared ride model with Zones for calculating fares and the other is a Metered/commissioned non-rideshare model. Either one has always been able to provide quotes, both on and off line.
Quote gumball:if the driver took you the "long way" to your destination.
Make no mistake, the taxi industry is not without sin. There are many unscrupulous drivers that will do this. The thing is, by law we have to maintain and staff an office, with real people to answer the phones. We have to dutifully record complaints and keep those records. Union Cab chooses to provide the disposition of the complaint upon request. If you are not satisfied with the way the complaint was handled then you have recourse to the city which can request our records and can hold us accountable. There is a system in place for the consumer to receive justice if they have a valid greivance. Try that with Uber or the Department of Safety and professional services.
Quote gumball:The driver never knew the name of or the ability to pay of the person they were picking up.
Not true, or at least only partially true. We frequently know the name of who we are picking up as they are frequently repeat customers. And there are a number of narrowly defined circumstances when if we are in doubt of a customer's ability or willingness to pay we can request payment up front or refuse to take them(Those circumstances are delineated in our regulations). In five years of driving a cab I have only had "runners" (people who get out without paying) once. Additionally, we have a dispatch system with radios. Something Uber does not have. My dispatcher can track me via GPS and I have ways to signal them if I am in trouble. The dispatcher could have police at my location in minutes in the case that I need them.
Quote gumball:That created an unsafe environment so regulations were needed.
Driving a taxi is an inherently dangerous job. At least one or two drivers a year is robbed in Madison Wisconsin, not to mention injuries sustained in accidents. We have as many systems in place as possible to protect drivers, but there will always be risk to life and limb driving a cab.

Quote gumball:These regulations evolved into a system of quasi monopoly where government limited the number of cabs and regulated the fees. That is why the customer service was so horrid in the view of many of its users, they had no other choice and the cab industry was complacent. Why bother with maintaining a clean and friendly service when your customers had no other choice?

There is some merit in your argument here. Deregulation of the cab industry has been tried with mixed results. It has generally resulted in more cabs on the road but also higher fares to compensate for the loss of business volume. It has also resulted in worse driver behavior as there is no longer a system of regulations to hold drivers and cab companies accountable. The solution isn't deregulation. Uber should have to comply with the same regulations. That's all I am saying. But you are right, the taxi industry had a sort of psuedo monopoly that was largely the unintended result of well intentioned regulations and that had led to poor customer service. And in some cases, the medallion system in particular, was used in a way which had the intended consequence of making the bar to entry to the market so high that competition was stifled. No doubt.

Quote gumball:Uber has created a service that challenged the monopoly and the entrenched interests are going to government to shut out this competition.

Again. I invite you to look at Madison General Ordinance 11.06. Which of those regulations do you believe Uber should not have to follow? And why?

Quote gumball:Crony Capitalism at it's finest.

There have been instances of collusion between regulators and the taxi industry. It's true. But I think those have been isolated instances. Should there be reform where this exists? Of course. The answer is not deregulation. Rather it is better regulation and enforcement. What good are regulations without enforcement? And I think we could find endless examples of crony capitalism that are much more debauched and systemic. Don't you?

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Kalamazoo shooting spree suspect an Uber driver

...Uber told CBS News Dalton was indeed one of their drivers, and added he had passed their background check during the hiring process....

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kalamazoo-shooting-spree-suspect-jason-dalto...

Thom's ad for Uber describes three easy steps to become an Uber driver:

1) Go to Uber.com

2) Answer a few simple questions about yourself and your car

3) start driving and making money

Maybe it should be a little harder to become an Uber driver? Like fingerprint background checks?

Following is a partial list of Uber incidents:

http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/rideshare-incidents

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porches-n-titchforks
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Thomm,

I have listened to you for years and am in deep shock that you are advertising for Uber.

As an iformation systems professional, my industry was long ago taken over by several similar uber like organizations. They pay no taxes, give us no benefits, and pay NO Social Security Taxes. They are simply avoiding the cost everyone else must pay, to do business in America. If you have not read the truth, I suggest you read past research by both the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, not to mention, how France and several other countries refuse to let them operate, for good reason.

rick1960
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It's called anything for a buck.

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Quote porches-n-titchforks:
Quote gumball:

Judging by the decline in taxis rides and the rapid increase in Uber ridership it would seem many agree with me.

It's new and flashy. It's also unsustainable. Eventually a better, more humane version will come along and replace them. That's why they are trying to move so fast in capturing the market. If they can drive their regulation abiding competitors out of business quickly enough that will leave cities at their mercy for a transportation solution. We are doing just fine. Trimmed our overhead a bit. We are financially sound. We made a profit in January.

Look... Walmart is a smashing success too. And many people that shop there have a marvelous experience. Am I supposed to celebrate that many Americans are so poor that they have to buy goods made for slave wages in third world countries or from a company that exploits it's workers? Being socially conscious and responsible can be expensive. But what's the price you want to place on your values and integrity?

Inhumane? Really?

Yes, something new will come along and replace this model. It is in development now, driverless cars.

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Quote gumball:
Quote porches-n-titchforks:
Quote gumball:

Judging by the decline in taxis rides and the rapid increase in Uber ridership it would seem many agree with me.

It's new and flashy. It's also unsustainable. Eventually a better, more humane version will come along and replace them. That's why they are trying to move so fast in capturing the market. If they can drive their regulation abiding competitors out of business quickly enough that will leave cities at their mercy for a transportation solution. We are doing just fine. Trimmed our overhead a bit. We are financially sound. We made a profit in January.

Look... Walmart is a smashing success too. And many people that shop there have a marvelous experience. Am I supposed to celebrate that many Americans are so poor that they have to buy goods made for slave wages in third world countries or from a company that exploits it's workers? Being socially conscious and responsible can be expensive. But what's the price you want to place on your values and integrity?

Inhumane? Really?
I guess I am not really surprised you lack a working definition of humane. Compassion, respect, concern... you know, that sort of stuff. And I said more humane. Look, I have provided more than enough evidence in this thread that Uber is a predatory and exploitative company with little to no regard for it's "driver partners" or indeed even it's customers. You have done nothing to change my opinion.

While Juno is not a perfect solution, they are a step in the right direction:

http://www.channel3000.com/money/uber-competitor-says-its-drivers-will-o...

Quote gumball:Yes, something new will come along and replace this model. It is in development now, driverless cars.

Indeed. The first industry that employs drivers to fall to robots will be trucking. But the robots are coming. No doubt.

I still have lots of problems imagining how a robot will drive on a busy saturday night in madison wisconsin, especially in the winter when the road surfaces are obscured by snow and ice. Sensors will have to be embedded in every roadway. Presumably these robot cars are bristling with sensors which stop it any time it is in danger of hitting something, anything. Downtown Madison on a busy friday or saturday night is crawling with drunk college students. A robot cab would literally just sit at some intersections for hours while drunk students walk in front of it or purposely screw around with it. Not to mention, they will make a complete mess of them. They will be rolling trash, puke receptacles. I don't think americans are ever going to really embrace robot cars. We like driving. We like our cars. They will eventually become a reality, but I am skeptical of how popular they will be. And the first child or even a beloved pet that gets run over by one of them will call the whole deal into question. There is something awful about a robot killing a child. And it will happen. It is inevitable.

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Quote porches-n-titchforks:

I guess I am not really surprised you lack a working definition of humane. Compassion, respect, concern... you know, that sort of stuff. And I said more humane. Look, I have provided more than enough evidence in this thread that Uber is a predatory and exploitative company with little to no regard for it's "driver partners" or indeed even it's customers. You have done nothing to change my opinion.

Because they are not paid enough?

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gumball
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Quote porches-n-titchforks:

Indeed. The first industry that employs drivers to fall to robots will be trucking. But the robots are coming. No doubt.

I still have lots of problems imagining how a robot will drive on a busy saturday night in madison wisconsin, especially in the winter when the road surfaces are obscured by snow and ice. Sensors will have to be embedded in every roadway. Presumably these robot cars are bristling with sensors which stop it any time it is in danger of hitting something, anything. Downtown Madison on a busy friday or saturday night is crawling with drunk college students. A robot cab would literally just sit at some intersections for hours while drunk students walk in front of it or purposely screw around with it. Not to mention, they will make a complete mess of them. They will be rolling trash, puke receptacles. I don't think americans are ever going to really embrace robot cars. We like driving. We like our cars. They will eventually become a reality, but I am skeptical of how popular they will be. And the first child or even a beloved pet that gets run over by one of them will call the whole deal into question. There is something awful about a robot killing a child. And it will happen. It is inevitable.

Drivers kill and maim hundreds of thousands of people a year. While there will still be accidents, driverless cars will be much safer. Not only cabbies will be looking for jobs, there will be less need for auto body shops and a greatly reduced strain on trauma centers.

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Part 1 - Is Economic Disaster About to Hit & Are You Prepared?

Thom plus logo Right now the United States and the world are facing four massive trends that, in combination, we haven't faced since the 1920s. We are seeing the rise of a new and brutal form of governance with extraordinary industrial capacity and power in China, much as Nazi Germany rose in Europe.
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