Time for the gig economy to grow up

There’s something I need to explain to Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy companies:

When abusing your privileges, indeed developing an entire business model around the abuse of those privileges, you shouldn’t be the least bit surprised, let alone be throwing a temper tantrum, when and if those privileges are taken away.

You’ve been paying drivers a pittance and denying us even the minimal labor protections that are usual in our society.[1] You played games even with that.[2]

Now, it looks like California might finally be calling out your bullshit.[3] And you’re throwing a tantrum like the state is taking your toys away.[4]

What you are demanding[5] amounts to a precedent that would long outlive your companies themselves, when you have yet to present a convincing case that your business plans are sustainable, even as available evidence points entirely in the opposite direction, that is, that you can never, ever be profitable.[6]

Now I can understand how you came to think your behavior is your right, not a privilege. Neoliberalism is all about a privileging of rich folks over poor folks. It’s also been utterly and entirely discredited.[7] It’s irresponsible, which is why the Business Roundtable recently came out with that statement recognizing responsibilities to other folks besides shareholders. Including workers.[8]

Now I realize you think Ayn Rand is some kind of a goddess. And workers are supposed to be grateful for the pittance you offer us. And you think that without yourselves, society would collapse under the weight of bureaucracy.[9]

Among capitalists, capitalist libertarians—that is, you— are supreme at ignoring the costs you impose on others, your workers, and on society at large.[10] You owe us. All of us.

And the responsible thing to do is to pay your debts. To all of us.

But no. You’re throwing a hissy fit because California is saying you need to take care of your workers.[11]

Grow the fuck up.

  1. [1]Cyrus Farivar, “What’s Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage? $10 or lower, report finds,” Ars Technica, March 6, 2018, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/whats-uber-and-lyft-drivers-median-hourly-wage-under-4-report-finds/; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434; Sam Levin, “Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds,” Guardian, March 1, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/01/uber-lyft-driver-wages-median-report; Natasha Lomas, “MIT study shows how much driving for Uber or Lyft sucks,” TechCrunch, March 2, 2018, https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/02/mit-study-shows-how-much-driving-for-uber-or-lyft-sucks/; Robert Maxim and Mark Muro, “Uber’s IPO fallout underscores the need for a new labor model,” Brookings, May 23, 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/05/23/ubers-ipo-fallout-underscores-the-need-for-a-new-labor-model/; Alexa Noel, “Revised MIT Study Says Uber, Lyft Drivers Make About $8 or $10 per Hour,” Points Guy, March 8, 2018, https://thepointsguy.com/2018/03/revised-mit-study-says-uber-lyft-drivers-make-about-8-or-10-per-hour/; Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors
  2. [2]Tom McKay, “DoorDash Says It’s Very Sorry You Noticed Its Tip-Skimming Scheme,” Gizmodo, July 24, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/doordash-says-it-s-very-sorry-you-noticed-its-tip-skimm-1836652047; Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Shirin Ghaffary, “DoorDash is still pocketing workers’ tips, almost a month after it promised to stop,” Vox, August 20, 2019, https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/8/20/20825937/doordash-tipping-policy-still-not-changed-food-delivery-app-gig-economy; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434; Alyse Stanley, “DoorDash Announces It’s Replacing That Whole Tip-Skimming Scheme Thing,” Gizmodo, August 22, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/doordash-announces-its-replacing-that-whole-tip-skimmin-1837492337
  3. [3]Alexia Fernández Campbell, “California is cracking down on the gig economy,” Vox, May 30, 2019, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434; Sarah Holder, “Uber and Lyft Really Don’t Want California to Pass This Worker Rights Bill,” CityLab, June 13, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/06/gig-economy-employment-law-california-bill-ab-5-uber-lyft/591565/; Alejandro Lazo and Eliot Brown, “Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Threaten Ballot Fight Over California Gig-Worker Law,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-doordash-threaten-ballot-fight-over-california-gig-worker-law-11567126445
  4. [4]Alejandro Lazo and Eliot Brown, “Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Threaten Ballot Fight Over California Gig-Worker Law,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-doordash-threaten-ballot-fight-over-california-gig-worker-law-11567126445
  5. [5]Alejandro Lazo and Eliot Brown, “Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Threaten Ballot Fight Over California Gig-Worker Law,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-doordash-threaten-ballot-fight-over-california-gig-worker-law-11567126445; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434
  6. [6]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; David Benfell, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet,” Not Housebroken, July 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/30/watching-the-ridesharing-shit-go-down-the-toilet/; David Benfell, “Uber appears to be going down,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/uber-appears-to-be-going-down/; David Benfell, “Proof of investor irrationality: The case of Uber (and Lyft),” Not Housebroken, August 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/22/proof-of-investor-irrationality-the-case-of-uber-and-lyft/; David Benfell, “Liking Lyft, not liking Uber,” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/liking-lyft-not-liking-uber/; David Benfell, “Uber’s spiral down,” Not Housebroken, August 29, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/29/ubers-spiral-down/; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Yves Smith, “Uber Is Headed for a Crash,” New York, December 4, 2018, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/will-uber-survive-the-next-decade.html; Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068; Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors
  7. [7]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  8. [8]Stephen Bartholomeusz, “Listen up! Shareholder value no longer everything for big business,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/listen-up-shareholder-value-no-longer-everything-for-big-business-20190821-p52jau.html; David Benoit, “Move Over, Shareholders: Top CEOs Say Companies Have Obligations to Society,” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/business-roundtable-steps-back-from-milton-friedman-theory-11566205200; David Ignatius, “Corporate panic about capitalism could be a turning point,” Washington Post, August 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/even-the-business-moguls-know-its-time-to-reform-capitalism/2019/08/20/95e4de74-c388-11e9-9986-1fb3e4397be4_story.html
  9. [9]Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Plume, 1999).
  10. [10]Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434
  11. [11]Alexia Fernández Campbell, “California is cracking down on the gig economy,” Vox, May 30, 2019, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors; Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434; Sarah Holder, “Uber and Lyft Really Don’t Want California to Pass This Worker Rights Bill,” CityLab, June 13, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/06/gig-economy-employment-law-california-bill-ab-5-uber-lyft/591565/; Alejandro Lazo and Eliot Brown, “Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Threaten Ballot Fight Over California Gig-Worker Law,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-doordash-threaten-ballot-fight-over-california-gig-worker-law-11567126445

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