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posted by janrinok on Friday December 19 2014, @06:19PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the for-richer-for-poorer dept.

After Uber's success, nearly every pitch made by starry-eyed technologists “in Silicon Valley seemed to morph overnight into an ‘Uber for X’ startup" with various companies described now as “Uber for massages,” “Uber for alcohol,” and “Uber for laundry and dry cleaning,” among many, many other things. The conventional narrative is this: enabled by smartphones, enterprising young businesses are using technology to connect a vast market willing to pay for convenience with small businesses or people seeking flexible work. Now Leo Marini writes that the Uber narrative ignores another vital ingredient, without which this new economy would fall apart: inequality.

"There are only two requirements for an on-demand service economy to work, and neither is an iPhone," says Marini. "First, the market being addressed needs to be big enough to scale—food, laundry, taxi rides. Without that, it’s just a concierge service for the rich rather than a disruptive paradigm shift, as a venture capitalist might say. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there needs to be a large enough labor class willing to work at wages that customers consider affordable and that the middlemen consider worthwhile for their profit margins." There is no denying the seductive nature of convenience—or the cold logic of businesses that create new jobs, whatever quality they may be concludes Marini. "All that modern technology has done is make it easier, through omnipresent smartphones, to amass a fleet of increasingly desperate jobseekers eager to take whatever work they can get."

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  • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Friday December 19 2014, @06:28PM

    by ikanreed (3164) on Friday December 19 2014, @06:28PM (#127539) Journal

    Specialization of labor is a real thing. I can specialize in programming, and when someone pays me for programming work, it's not because they're richer than me. It's because it's more efficient for me to do it than them.

    If you treat "owning and driving a car" as a skill, that some don't want to invest in, Uber can work in a strictly hypothetical environment.

    Now reality intrudes and points out that there is inequality, and that Uber is more sustainable as a result. But at a higher hypothetical level, it's not necessary.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @06:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @06:50PM (#127545)

      I saw this pop up in the queue. I have been thinking about it.

      I think he is onto something. But it may not be what people think it is.

      I think it might be a natural outcropping of our minimum wage laws and a end game of 'salary' for everyone. Stay with me dont get mad...

      In a natural employment market we typically are paid for a period of time and hopefully the right amount of work during that time or you are fired.

      In a distorted market though no one will pay bellow a particular amount (they legally can not). So we are moving to a more per task payment system on the low end (ie I dont care it takes you 30 hours to finish something, I will only pay a set amount). This market also exists throughout the whole strata of employment too. But on the low end you can get 'hey give me 5 bucks and I will take you somewhere' instead of 'I will take you somewhere and charge you 50 bucks per hour'. Which means it becomes not about labor cost but material cost plus some bit of profit.

      My point of it being of an outcropping of our min wage laws is that effectively these uber companies do not pay min wage at all. They pay per task labor is priced at 0. They can still exist along the whole strata of employment. Meaning low end jobs that the gov has effectively removed from our economy become viable again.

      Or I could be bonkers :)

      • (Score: 2) by strattitarius on Friday December 19 2014, @07:17PM

        by strattitarius (3191) on Friday December 19 2014, @07:17PM (#127552) Journal
        You are not bonkers. It is true that the minimum wage makes some services unprofitable for a traditional employer. What TFA and you both are getting at, I think, is that smartphones + internet = $60/month overhead for a self employed person.

        Self employment used to be very, very difficult. Getting your name out there, securing resources, legal fees, etc. Now you can sign up at Uber and the reality is that the only additional cost for an Uber driver (or any other similar service) is the extra car washes to keep the car nice. You already needed a car and phone, so your overhead is really a personal expense.

        I would compare to maid services. Merry Maids is actually quite expensive, based on when I looked into it a few years ago. This is because of overhead and they must pay the cleaner minimum wage. However, you can hire some random person to clean your whole house and pay $50 in cash, coming out to maybe $5/hr. Now there is a service, much like you used to have a phone book, that connects the supplier to the buyer without the need of a full blown company on the supplier's side.

        Is it ethical to pay people less than minimum wage to clean your house or drive you home? Is it ethical that a company is formed to connect suppliers and buyers, makes a profit, but the suppliers may not make minimum wage? Personally, I don't think it is but I realize that is a debatable topic.

        Babysitters.com is a another good example. Many people on there advertising services at less than minimum wage (some way over too - depends a lot on location).

        I just rattled that off so it might seem a bit rambling.
        --
        Slashdot Beta Sucks. Soylent Alpha Rules. News at 11.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:42PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:42PM (#127562)

          > What TFA and you both are getting at, I think, is that smartphones + internet = $60/month overhead for a self employed person.

          As a freelancer who makes a buttload more than minimum wage equivalent, I have to point out that obamacare is a fucking game changer for this. Health insurance was prohibitively expensive for anyone who wanted to be self employed. Every single one of my former co-employees cited health insurance as their number one reason for not going it alone. Obviously there is a lot more to it than that, but it was a structural problem that is mostly fixed.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday December 19 2014, @07:11PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Friday December 19 2014, @07:11PM (#127550) Journal

      All you're saying is that taxi services can exist without wealth inequality. Which is certainly true, because they've pretty much always existed in one form or another.

      TFA is being far more specific though. There are lots of taxi companies, they're focusing on the specific features that allow Uber to beat out the competition. And apparently one of the keys to their success is having fairly desperate drivers willing to work more and accept lower pay than the competition. People willing to put thousands of dollars of their own personal property on the line for a $20 fare. That doesn't happen without significant wealth inequality.

      • (Score: 2) by strattitarius on Friday December 19 2014, @07:21PM

        by strattitarius (3191) on Friday December 19 2014, @07:21PM (#127553) Journal
        Excellent point about how much they are putting on the line for a relatively small return.
        --
        Slashdot Beta Sucks. Soylent Alpha Rules. News at 11.
        • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Friday December 19 2014, @08:32PM

          by ikanreed (3164) on Friday December 19 2014, @08:32PM (#127577) Journal

          Yeah, and it's pretty clear that the supply side of Uber is going to blow out sooner or later.

          Like when people get tired of scrubbing vomit out of their back seat, they're going to wonder if it's worth it.

          When it stops being yuppies enjoying a new experience, and starts being grouchy assholes taking the driver for granted, taking our their problems on them like any other retail employee. People are going to ask if they are maybe underpaid.

          When serious liabilities start adding up, they're going to wonder if it's worth the risk.

          Uber is fueled mostly by novelty. It won't die, but it'll start accumulating everything that makes people not like taxis.

      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Saturday December 20 2014, @09:05AM

        by TheRaven (270) on Saturday December 20 2014, @09:05AM (#127700) Journal
        One of my colleagues recently did a study comparing Uber's prices to a big data dump that someone had got of all taxi rides in Manhattan over a long period and found that Uber was typically slightly more expensive than a taxi. Their benefit is not price, it's convenience, and their business model comes from having a very scalable dispatcher service.

        Most taxi companies still use a human (aided by a computer for larger fleets) to handle dispatching, which means someone has to answer the phone and make decisions. This doesn't scale to a huge number of taxis, so you need multiple dispatchers and you need to pay them even when they're not really doing anything. Uber has a fully automated dispatcher, which can handle an enormous fleet. The cost of running their service is a few programmers and a couple of servers, but per taxi it's trivial.

        They also benefit from payments. Handling cash in large quantities is expensive. Uber doesn't take cash, and they have a sufficiently large volume of credit card transactions that they will get a better rate than smaller taxi companies.

        Finally, they benefit from convenience for the user. If you use Uber, then you've got a single app that lets you book a taxi wherever you are. No more having to hunt the number of a local taxi company when you travel, just step off the plane and you can have a cab waiting.

        --
        sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:29PM (#127555)

      I think that intracity, same day package delivery might become a distinct service, with special, low rates. Maybe with 5 hour old pizza, delivered in a special container. It will be cheaper than current pizza delivery. DHL, or UPS could muscle into that business. This will work best in a dense city. I'd start out in New York City first.

      • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Friday December 19 2014, @08:13PM

        by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 19 2014, @08:13PM (#127571) Journal

        Neal Stephenson said it pretty well. One of America's great talents:

        "High speed pizza delivery."

        See the first quote, especially the prelude to the list:
        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Snow_Crash [wikiquote.org]

        --
        Pronouns: I/You/My (ex: He is a jerk: I is a jerk; It's him: It's you; His ideas suck: My ideas suck)
      • (Score: 1) by WillAdams on Friday December 19 2014, @08:19PM

        by WillAdams (1424) on Friday December 19 2014, @08:19PM (#127573)

        There used to be a local company which did this --- they also did intercity between Harrisburg, Pa, and Baltimore, Md and Washington, DC (maybe some other cities).

        Rising gas prices did them in --- for intracity, might be able to make it work w/ bicycles or electric vehicles.

  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Friday December 19 2014, @06:57PM

    by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 19 2014, @06:57PM (#127548) Homepage Journal

    The rules laid out seem like pretty basic economics; the service is effectively a commodity (high volume with little distinction between vendors), and there is someone who can provide the service cheaper (inequality means willing to work for lower wages, so lower total costs). The same could be said about a new steel mill with lower labour costs.

    For me, the distinction of a "Uber" product is the use of communication by smartphone to remove barriers to entry and provide more complete information between the customer and consumer.

    • (Score: 2) by emg on Friday December 19 2014, @09:22PM

      by emg (3464) on Friday December 19 2014, @09:22PM (#127594)

      'On a mobile phone.'

      This article is just silly, since the secret to every kind of business is Wealth Inequality. If we were all insanely wealthy, no-one would work. If we were all poor, no-one could afford to hire anyone else.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:25PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:25PM (#127554)

    I don't think on demand will take over everything. However, technology makes arranging, and scheduling, deliveries much easier. I think Uber, and gps maps, take away much of the special skills required for an average driver to operate a taxi.

    I think that intracity, same day package delivery might become a distinct service, with special, low rates. Maybe 5 hour old pizza, delivered in a special container. DHL, or UPS could muscle into that business.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:37PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:37PM (#127560)

      That is called a courier or hotshot service. At least in Canada, they are prohibited from charging less than Canada Post would for "first class" (letter) mail.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:48PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @07:48PM (#127565)

        I am not the OP, but the way I see it differing from courier services is that with a sufficient market base it doesn't have to be one-offs. That a good scheduling system can optimally route the delivery vehicle to pick up and drop off multiple packages in a single trip - maybe even doing away with the concept of trip such that the vehicle is constantly in motion with a real-time queued pick-up list. Seems like a good operations research kind of problem.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:44PM (#127581)

        That is called a courier or hotshot service. At least in Canada, they are prohibited from charging less than Canada Post would for "first class" (letter) mail.

        Who cares about mail service. No one would pay a courier less than $1 to delivery things across town anyway. $5 is probably the minimum.

  • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday December 19 2014, @07:46PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday December 19 2014, @07:46PM (#127564)

    " Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic. ... You're working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars."

    Basically, the only reason anybody would ever agree to work a crappy job for $7.50 an hour and no benefits is because the alternative is homelessness and starvation. Those who are doing the hiring for those crappy jobs know full well that this is the case, so they work hard to buy the political system and ensure that there are lots of people for whom that $7.50 an hour is all that stands between them and homelessness and starvation.

    The only things that have ever changed that basic fact:
    1. Trade unions, which if prevalent enough can force employers to pay more or provide more benefits.
    2. Fully enforced government regulation such as minimum wage laws.

    --
    The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:02PM (#127569)

      3. A robust, strong economy with very low unemployment. (currently only seen in very local exaples... like what Wal-Mart is paying in the frakking boom towns)

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday December 19 2014, @09:03PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Friday December 19 2014, @09:03PM (#127589)

        That doesn't last very long, for two reasons:
        1. People flock to the area looking for decent jobs, and those local conditions are eliminated.
        2. Whoever the dominant employer in town is can play hardball with those who have committed to living there and start cutting pay once they've started working. If you have a choice between a pay cut and moving halfway across the country, which do you choose? It's at least a difficult question, right?

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
        • (Score: 2) by dry on Saturday December 20 2014, @04:22AM

          by dry (223) on Saturday December 20 2014, @04:22AM (#127663) Journal

          In Canada they use the foreign worker program to keep wages low. Tim Hortons (donut shop) cries that it can't afford to pay much above minimum wage and still sell coffee for $1, import workers from the Philippines where work is mostly non-existent and who consider $10 an hour good money, abuse them including putting them to work in a location where they aren't supposed to and then threaten to tell the government so their work visa would be cancelled and keep wages low in some of the most expensive places in N. America to live. (Canada is about 30% more expensive then the States to begin with and much more expensive up north in the oil towns)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:48PM (#127585)

      3. Become your own boss.
      If what you do requires more than 1 person, find like-minded people and form a cooperative.
      Cooperatives beat poverty wages [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [commondreams.org]
      Mondragon [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [wikipedia.org]

      -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by Pav on Saturday December 20 2014, @12:46AM

        by Pav (114) on Saturday December 20 2014, @12:46AM (#127626)

        Mod parent up!

        Uber and other similar services are still taking their cut for selling us to eachother, and for less - they're just the Walmart of taxi services. Game theory tells us that the winning strategy for cooperative games is to negotiate less money/benefit for your "partner" - deregulation, anti-union action etc... have allowed corps to do this, and Uber (if anything) accelerates this trend. The parent comment suggestion of the Coop model is the only real way out (at least that I can see).

        I've been seriously looking into Coops to join, but the only one I've found isn't very healthy right now (ie. NoISP in Australia) - I spoke to the secretary via email. I just wish I had business/accounting smarts, otherwise I'd have started one already as I already am doing my own thing, and cooperating with others and getting the benefit of a larger organisation while still maintaining equality and a little control would be great.

      • (Score: 2) by dry on Saturday December 20 2014, @04:27AM

        by dry (223) on Saturday December 20 2014, @04:27AM (#127666) Journal

        Co-ops are of course by definition socialist and should be illegalized. (sarcasm, but likely to come true)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @05:58AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @05:58AM (#127678)

          Marxism: The means of production is owned by the workers.
          All decisions are made democratically by a vote of the workers at that business.
          e.g. Mondragon (already linked in this thread)
          e.g. New Era Windows [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [libcom.org]

          Socialism: The means of production is owned by the government (ALL the people, through their elected representatives).
          ALL of the voters get to choose the representatives who will make the decisions for ALL of the affected businesses.
          e.g. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

          Capitalism: The means of production is owned by investors, typically, non-laborers.
          All of the decisions are made by the ownership class (or their appointed representatives); the opinions of rank-and-file workers' don't count.
          e.g. WalMart (which has to have a minimum wage set by the gov't or Sam Walton's heirs would try to pay their employees zero).

          .
          illegalized

          That would be interesting to see. [19thcenturyart-facos.com]

          -- gewg_

          • (Score: 2) by dry on Saturday December 20 2014, @05:42PM

            by dry (223) on Saturday December 20 2014, @05:42PM (#127779) Journal

            To quote wiki,

            Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.

            Social ownership does not have to be through the government. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism [wikipedia.org]

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @07:27PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @07:27PM (#127796)

              In your definition and mine, there can be people who don't work at the facility|operation|business who get to make decisions about how the operation is run.

              A co-op doesn't have that.
              ONLY the workers -involved- in the operation get a vote (and EVERY ONE of those workers gets an EQUAL vote).
              That's Marxism (by your definition, a specific subset of Socialism).

              Marxism is very bottom-up and very democratic.
              Socialism can be more bureaucratic, with busybodies trying to tell you how to run your business.

              -- gewg_

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by gallondr00nk on Friday December 19 2014, @08:31PM

    by gallondr00nk (392) on Friday December 19 2014, @08:31PM (#127576)

    I'd like to see how the distributed service economy survives in a few years time.

    Without intervention, I suspect what we'll witness is an absolute race to the bottom, where more and more people are trying to get business through fewer and fewer people, and a lot of human misery.

    There was a report [tuc.org.uk] released by the UK TUC (trade union congress) recently analysing job growth in the UK from 2008 to 2014. Out of the one million net jobs created, only 25,000 of them could be considered full time. Another 378,050 were part time, and 645,612 jobs were self employed, either full or part time. It is worth mentioning that during this period, the UK population rose by 3 million (I'm not certain how much of that is working age population).

    Perhaps some of these self employed jobs are well paying, I don't know. I suspect the majority of them are most certainly not. I would guess that many of them will be servicing the distributed service economy in some fashion.

    • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Friday December 19 2014, @08:42PM

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Friday December 19 2014, @08:42PM (#127580) Journal

      A race to the bottom, with value extracted by high-renting middlemen who do little bun run a comms service.
      More billionaires - not because of inherently more value in the economy - but because they've squeezed their actual productive workforce down to the husk and sucked out all the juice for themselves.

       

      The children of an Uber driver will never have the privilege of being taken home on a paid Uber ride, after school - no. The parent will have to do this on their own time, removing productive hours from their "workday".

       

      I really don't care anymore. Randian super-parasites will crush what's left underfoot, with a mythology of their information technology entitlement. It's called "decline and fall". Watch the show - if you have the stomach.

       

      --
      You're betting on the pantomime horse...
    • (Score: 2) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Friday December 19 2014, @08:45PM

      by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Friday December 19 2014, @08:45PM (#127582)

      I was going to make the same comment that it's a race to the bottom. Look at what happens every time something like this opens up. More and more people work for less and less. I honestly do not see how anyone could do computer programming for freelance job sites and afford a computer and Internet connection to do the work for the pay that's offered. Paid writing assignments are the same way. Look at Amazon's 600k title slush pile for the Kindle. This kind of economy doesn't support subsistence, and my examples don't factor in things like transportation costs. To get customers, you'd have to lowball the price, or people would just do it themselves.
       

      --
      (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
      • (Score: 2) by CRCulver on Friday December 19 2014, @09:50PM

        by CRCulver (4390) on Friday December 19 2014, @09:50PM (#127600) Homepage

        I honestly do not see how anyone could do computer programming for freelance job sites and afford a computer and Internet connection to do the work for the pay that's offered.

        I do translation and interpretation on a freelance basis and do OK (my clients are willing to pay more or less the going rate of the first world), but when I signed up for those sites I was amazed at how little programming and graphic design jobs paid, and how any call for applications would quickly get dozens of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis signing up to work for peanuts. I too wondered how they could afford to even keep a computer and internet connection, but then I discovered that there are office spaces opening up in the Indian subcontinent which subcontract this freelance work to local people. The people you think you're hiring keep a cut for themselves, but they just provide the computer, the internet connection, and a chair and desk to someone else. Apparently Dhaka in Bangladesh has dozens of such offices now.

        It's not even just a Subcontinent thing anymore; I'm based in Romania, and in my town one of these working spaces for graphic design recently opened (though judging from the middle class salaries paid there, they work on a long-term basis with clients instead of one-off exploitive jobs to the lowest bidder).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @08:47PM (#127584)

      There was a report that self-employed get 1/2 the wages of a full time regular job, on average. So no, self-employed is not better of.

      • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Saturday December 20 2014, @02:32AM

        by jmorris (4844) on Saturday December 20 2014, @02:32AM (#127640)

        There was a report that self-employed get 1/2 the wages of a full time regular job, on average.

        So?

        Seriously. We have spent a century making the act of hiring an employee harder and more expensive and contracting out labor easier and cheaper. Now the same labor/socialists in the first world are bitching that business is following the incentives. Grow the heck up. Elections have consequences. Labor actions have consequences.

        Uber isn't exploiting anyone, they are offering a service that rational and willing actors look at and sign up for; on both sides. If someone thought they could make more money for less effort and risk they wouldn't be driving for Uber. If customers ever decide a traditional government monopoly taxi is a better deal there is nothing Uber can do to make someone use their service. The government monopolies on the other hand.....

        As to the bitchin' upthread about international competition on online piecework and contracting, sucks don't it. Everybody wants the poor in the third world to be lifted out of poverty, not exploited by 'the man' etc. They never consider that the best and only way it actually happens is when they actually find a way to earn a living. And yup, the Internet totally flattened the world for any work that can be done via it and now a first worlder is competing on essentially a level playing field with some random guy/gal in India, etc. They are going to rise but they are going to eat your lunch doing it. And what that means is no more 'birthright' to a first world lifestyle, if you expect a superior lifestyle you have to be able to offer something superior. Location does help a little, but for how much longer?

        And yes the whole welfare state is doomed, there ain't going to be enough excess wealth in the 1st world to remain so stupid as to pay 1/3 to 1/2 of the population to not work. Like it, hate it, reality isn't interested in your feels so suck it up and learn to live with it and just perhaps you will find the spirit that your ancestors had that made the 1st world number one and find a way to thrive in the new reality.

        Either that or we all go on a rampage and destroy the Internet and call technology a bad idea. Choose or propose a third way.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @04:16AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @04:16AM (#127662)

          "Uber isn't exploiting anyone, they are offering a service that rational and willing actors look at and sign up for." Absolute BS. Uber can only offer their service because the economy is poor and there are a lot of desperate people willing to do anything to try to make enough money to eat and pay rent. If the economy didn't suck Uber wouldn't be able to get drivers at the crappy rates they pay. And if they paid more they wouldn't be cheaper than the competition and no one would care. Also, just wait until an Uber driver is in an accident and someone is injured and the insurance companies get involved. How many Uber drivers have the right levels of insurance? And how long until Uber drivers start noticing the extra wear and tear on their cars are coming out of their already measly wages?

          Also, is it really fair to say that desperate workers are "rational and willing"? Since when does poverty and desperation lead to rational and willing behavior? Low income workers don't have the luxury to act rationally. As an example, buying items at dollar stores is more expensive than buying bulk at a supermarket or Target or Costco. BUT if you don't have the capital to buy in bulk you are stuck paying more for fewer goods. Even if they know they are getting ripped off the poor don't often have a choice.

          • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Saturday December 20 2014, @05:14AM

            by jmorris (4844) on Saturday December 20 2014, @05:14AM (#127673)

            Uber can only offer their service because the economy is poor...

            So? Assume you are correct. People are still making a rational decision in bad circumstances. Guess what sport? Life sometimes sucks, bad times come (especially when a society does stupid things....) and everything isn't always unicorns shittin' Skittles. People are dealing with it. If your assessment is correct, they are doing what they must to put vittles in the cupboard and pay the rent. Apparently you don't like that, perhaps you would prefer they simply starve and thus reduce the surplus population? Your alternative would be? Eh? Speak up, we can't hear you.

            If you are right, all we need do is elect a few more Republicans (especially a POTUS) and reignite the economy and Uber will cease to exist. Ok, maybe you are even correct. But yet again I retort, So?

            If the market doesn't support Uber in good economic times, that sucks for the idiots buying Uber stock at prices not seen since the last .bomb went off, but stupid people are supposed to lose their money on the stock market. I'm still failing to see a downside for anyone else. So long as people are free to choose to deal with or not deal with Uber, it is all good. It is the invisible hand of the market reallocating capital from the incompetent to those better able to put those resources to productive use.

    • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Saturday December 20 2014, @09:13AM

      by TheRaven (270) on Saturday December 20 2014, @09:13AM (#127706) Journal
      I don't see that 2/3 of new jobs being self-employed is a bad thing. I was self employed (in the UK) for 5 years (I'm now back in academia, but still consult sometimes) and enjoyed it immensely. It wouldn't have been possible to have that lifestyle I had 20 years earlier. The Internet made it much easier for individuals to connect with customers all across the world. Cutting out the middle man of an employer and selling your services directly to people who want them seems like a net win, both for the economy and for individuals.
      --
      sudo mod me up