Uber

Hillary Clinton Declares War on Worker Choice and Consumer Convenience

Why is the Democratic presidential candidate targeting the "gig economy" characterized by Uber?

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Hillary Clinton this morning at a speech in Manhattan's New School laid out what's hyped as the heart of her economic message.

One aspect cemented her efforts to brand the Democratic Party she is apparently the inevitable leader of as the party of reaction, regression, and making the world harder on everyone in the defense of entrenched interests—all hidden under a thin veneer of "helping out the little guy at the expense of the big guy."

She, as the Huffington Post reported:

alluded to companies like Uber, saying she'd crack down on businesses that classify their workers as independent contractors in order to avoid providing benefits.

"This 'on demand' or so-called 'gig economy' is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation but it's also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future," she said.

In this she is echoing the complaints of American union leaders.

I wrote a big feature for Reason's November 2014 issue about government efforts to restrict or stymie app-driven ride hiring services such as Uber and Lyft. In reporting it I talked to many drivers directly and read the online discussions and kvetching of many, many others.

Almost universally one of the big selling points of being a driver is the flexibility of the relationship between driver and app company; that you can work largely when you want without having to follow a set and largely unyielding schedule imposed on you from above. That's very much unlike standard full-time employment which, with some caveats, locks you into working a set number of hours in set blocks all the way down the line. 

As Flint, Michigan, Uber driver Hunter Lawrence (she also has a chauffeur's license and has been a driver-for-hire pre-Uber) told me today in a written interview, she's been happy enough with the steady 80 percent cut of fares she's gotten, and is against the idea of becoming a "real employee."

Why? "Being a contractor allows me the freedom to make my own schedule, wear my own "uniform", drive my own high-end vehicle, get multiple tax write offs, and so much more. I drive with Uber and Lyft full time because I am a contractor. If this changes, I will leave them immediately." 

She certainly doesn't feel like Uber treats her like an employee: "For the most part the company doesn't care when or how often I work, as long as I complete at least one ride per two weeks. If I don't, my account is suspended. This can be avoided by contacting them and telling them that I'm on "vacation", though."

Some people who apparently didn't really understand what they were getting into, or were just professional troublemakers or provocateurs, have sued to claim they ought to be classified as employees and managed like them, not be independent contractors, trying to do Hillary's work for her in the courts.

Uber has reacted to that lawsuit, and as The Hill reported last week:

Uber also said the three plaintiffs did not represent the majority of drivers, who the company said appreciated working as contractors.

"Plaintiffs, three individual drivers, seek an outcome that many, if not most, proposed class members oppose — a classwide determination that would destroy the very independence and flexibility that countless drivers love about Uber," the company said in its filing with the court.

To bolster its case, Uber submitted declarations made by more than 400 drivers who support their contractor status.

"I extremely value the flexibility that Uber gives me because for the last 30 years I've worked independently," said Larry Adams, who drives in the San Francisco Bay Area. "I worked briefly on an employee basis and I didn't like the control the employer had over me."

The company also submitted to the court testimony from a University of California, Berkeley, economist Justin McCrary — who examined the declarations made by the drivers.

"Each driver's relationship with Uber is unique," he wrote. "This is not unexpected; indeed, I am not aware of any evidence that Uber exercises control uniformly, reserves the right of control uniformly, or has any uniform policy describing control over the physical conduct of drivers' work."

Clinton and the Democrats need to realize that these services are generating at least half a billion in income for the over 160,000 Americans who choose to be drivers, as well as adding unquantifiable but huge improvements in the quality of life of the services' customers. Research shows that about a quarter have Uber as their sole source of income, and only 8 percent were unemployed entirely before starting with Uber.

Because of the manifold advantages to drivers and customers, they are quite popular with a class of urban professionals the Democrats should not go out of their way to alienate.

While I am not a programmer and cannot speak authoritatively to the technological possiblities, if a more decentralized and peer-to-peer system of connected peer-rated service providers and customers with rides (or anything else) is possible, one that merely skims something more like micropayments (or perhaps even just a one-time app purchase or membership fee) rather than a hefty 20 percent of the payments, it will eventually drive your Ubers and Lyfts off the stage as they will, if allowed to, drive the traditional regulated taxi model off the stage. 

It's a radically uncertain world for everyone but consumers out there, and no one can consider market control or profits a given minus political clout. But we are all consumers, and progress toward getting human needs met easier and cheaper is a good thing, even if Clinton doesn't quite grok that and thinks her would-be voters don't either.

But "cheaper" will often mean that profits that used to be readily available to concentrated interests (whether "big corporate" or individual provider) won't be available anymore. For Hillary and the Democrats to fight on the side of those concentrated interests is as pure an example of being on the "wrong side of history" and progress as one could imagine.

Everything about techno-modernity is moving toward things being cheaper and more widely and easily available to consumers, as long as people like Hillary Clinton don't stand in the way.

Hillary's anti-"gig economy" stance is alas probably going to be a decent selling point for her for some, especially for the vast majority who don't work such jobs, relying on a basic "let's help the little guy" desire to make corporations give more and the ol' working (wo)man to get more.

But that basic motivation can led to all sort of mischief and lost opportunities for would-be workers and frustrated customers.

Bonus awful Uber and politics story of today: Los Angeles cops are actively wasting time entrapping Uber drivers by tricking them into accepting illegal instant street flag ride requests, as opposed to the legal-in-California use of the app. Appallingly stupid waste of police time.

Reason TV on the sharing economy and its political fights:

NEXT: Watch Anthony L. Fisher on FNC's Red Eye, Tonight 3a ET/12a PT

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  1. Modern Dems hate self-reliance. If they allow us to provide for ourselves then what do we need their Big Government for?

    1. But people running their own taxis and bed and breakfasts would be anarchy!!

  2. Hillary: Worse than Trump

    1. If we end up with a Clinton/Bush choice in this election, Trump will be viable as a Perot-style candidate. I won’t vote for him, but I’d prefer him over those two.

      1. I think most people who consider themselves conservative/republican agree with you, and that is why we have the recent Trump crowds.

      2. And what a fucked up mutant version of the nineties we’re living in now, huh?

    2. At least Trump thinks rape is bad. Hillary wants to buttfuck you.

  3. As a freelance musician, I’ll just say that a good portion of my gigs will simply go away if they have to treat everyone as employees. Or they’ll have to cut wages to the point that it won’t make economic sense to take the gig. The cherry on top is that we will end up paying more in income tax because instead of deducting expenses against income, it will go on Schedule A and be subject to the 2% rule. So fuck that noise.

    It also bothers me how paternalistic people want the employer-employee relationship to be. Like the employer wraps you in a warm blanket and promises to take care of you in exchange for your fealty. I don’t want that, and I don’t want it forced on me.

    1. Fealty is one applicable word. Patronage is another.

      Progressives are really not progressive at all–they yearn for an ancient time in which patrons ruled and plebes were ruled. They couch it in terms of concern for the poor and disadvantaged, but what they really seek is a system in which they–the chosen–decide who is worthy of their patronage and who is not. Individual liberty gets in their way.

      1. Exactly. Every one of them is convinced that they will be appointed commandant of the gulag; not one ever imagines that they will be an inmate of the gulag.

    2. You don’t, but socialists do. Socialism has only ever been deeply successful in feudal societies, so they’re trying to recreate that with capitalists as feudal lords and with serfs bound to the “land”, capital in this case.

    3. “As a freelance musician, I’ll just say that a good portion of my gigs will simply go away if they have to treat everyone as employees.”

      You and me both. I made a bunch of money selling articles online (I swear I’m not a spambot) while I was working in a factory full-time. That opportunity was a godsend. I’m now using the money from writing to pay for college.

      It enrages me to no end that if these politicians knew that such an opportunity existed, they’d demand benefits and minimum payments “for [my] own good”, thus strangling yet another opportunity for working people to make some money on the side and improve their situation. Ya know – upward mobility, and all that stuff that progs are flapping their gums about…

  4. also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future

    I still have the “Keep your laws off my body” protest banner from my youthful and gloriously oblivious days as a teenage progressive. I am so confused, are we not using the same logic when it comes to my labor?

    1. Did you just say “logic”? That word has no place, no meaning, when referring to politicians.

    2. Hell the Dems treatment of Uber is confusing, but their love of “yes means yes” laws represents maximum cognitive dissonance.

    3. also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future

      An even better question is since when the fuck is it the federal government’s job to determine what “good jobs in the future will look like?” I’d like to think that I’m perfectly capable of making that determination for myself, thanks.

      Fuck this authoritarian cunt with a rusty chainsaw, then send her through the wood chipper.

      1. If you aren’t digging your way out of crushing student loan debt with a highly valuable “X Studies” degree to wave around, any job you have is a bad job.

        1. Here’s the thing: I DO have that “valuable” degree (medieval literature), and I’m more than fine with working in a contract basis.

      2. Uh-oh. It’s getting subpoena-y in here.

  5. “This ‘on demand’ or so-called ‘gig economy’ is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future,” she said….

    …at her New School gig.

  6. I’m sick of being exploited and feeling powerless. I think voting and voting for Hillary will solve both problems.

  7. Hillary: Even I wouldn’t.

    1. +1 voting booth glory hole.

    2. That’s a shame, because Hillary would do you. And she doesn’t care for consent. Also, she likes to pitch.

  8. The New School is like a progressive/socialist idea institution, so it is no surprise it is where she gave her speech on how she wants to keep people from making some of that sweet cash she adores.

  9. Progressives just hate it when people can freely act as independent individuals. First, it weakens their affiliation with the collective. Second, it lessens the state’s ability to control their behavior. Third, it makes taxation more difficult.

    As long as private enterprise exists, it is much more convenient for the state to deal with a small number of large corporations and large labor unions.

    1. Progressives just hate it when people can freely act as independent individuals. First, it weakens their affiliation with the collective corporate state.

      In a corporate state, the government is the brain and we are but cells in the body (Latin: corpus) of society.

  10. More mandates from pro-choice Hillary Clinton

  11. Why is the Democratic presidential candidate targeting the “gig economy” characterized by Uber?

    Judging by her actions and decisions re: the private server scandal, she has stopped understanding new technology at about the Texas Instrument calculator level.

    1. Meh, she doesn’t really need to. She smart enough to realize that she can set up her own email server. So that when she was subpoena’d she could provide the emails that she that her lawyers have carefully vetted. And then she destroyed the rest.

      Can you imagine the utter, fantastical outrage from the Left if Dick Cheney had done the same?

      Hillary Clinton is blatantly, obviously corrupt and yet the Democratic party is busy anointing her as their new Leader.

  12. So how are all the social media loving, Facebook progs that love the “sharing economy” going to square this circle?

    1. Lefties I know have slowly been shifting against the sharing economy.

  13. People who think all workers should be essentially indentured servants just aren’t going to agree with her on this.

    1. Where, in the Uber model, do you see indenture?

      1. By not being classified as employees, Uber is not required to purchase health insurance for them, which makes them slaves.

        Or something? Help me out, Tony.

        1. This is exactly the argument.

          Private contract work is a way around Obamacare, and Team Blue can’t have that.

        2. We’re coming from different first principles. I believe that society, including its market elements, should be structured to maximize human well-being. You believe that we should obey the outcomes of unfettered markets no matter the cost to human well-being.

          1. Bullshit. Please explain how requiring people to become employees of an organization whether they wish to or not maximizes human well being. In reality, you come up with some high sounding phrasing to disguise the fact that you think you know better what’s good for people than the people do themselves. You’re nothing more than another in a long line of tyrants.

          2. Well there’s your problem, or 2 problems: 1) People know more about their own well-being than you do, and 2) I would like to make my own choices, not hae “society” structure my life for me based on what it and you think are my well-being, so fuck off and mind your own wretched life.

          3. How would you maximize human well-being? What would constitute a maximum human well being with respect to uber drivers?

          4. So you are a fascist fuck that likes to suck the cock of authoritah….we already knew that. Tony. You need to come up with a new schtick, bro.

          5. “I believe that society, including its market elements, should be structured to maximize human well-being. You believe that we should obey the outcomes of unfettered markets no matter the cost to human well-being.”

            So basically – A Utopia.

            I would like to live a maximized economy in which I can earn 20 dollars an hour and have the company pay for my healthcare. My well being would be taken care of. But that’s not possible in world of finite resources and shifting tastes and demands.

            What you’re really against is anyone leaving a system and rules established for the “common good” in order negotiate separate terms with outsiders. It undermines the collective if I choose to sacrifice defined benefits and high pay in favor of flexibility. I can’t have it all, so I made a conscious decision to give something up to get something else.

            If a charter school sets criteria to filter out disruptive students and set a class size limit, some students will be denied entry. But the ones who gets in might get a quality education. Public schools accept everyone and give everyone the equal amount of mediocre education. But no one cares for THAT kind of equality.

          6. Actually, freedom to chose our own destinies maximizes human well being–despite prog wet dreams to the contrary.

      2. Nowhere. I’m saying libertarians believe that workers deserve no rights as workers at all.

        1. good grief. You keep raising the bar on your own idiocy. It’s pretty impressive to watch actually.

          1. I think he’s been it (trolling) so long that his resolve has weakened.

            Plus who ever has him on the payroll realizes he’s too stupid to get a point across so he’s not even worth minimum wage.

        2. So your position is that workers should have the right to be forced to become employees rather than contractors? What other mandatory rights should we receive against our will? I’m not sure you understand what rights are and I’m very sure you have no idea what libertarians believe except for the ones who are apparently ricocheting off the walls of your cranium like a BB in a boxcar.

        3. What rights do workers deserve and how did you determine this? What if a person is ok with less pay and benefits than you have determined?

        4. Workers have the same ‘rights’ as any other human being. They should be free to enter (or reject) any contract that they see fit.

        5. The fact that my career over the last twelve years or so is everything Tonykins hates just delights me to no end.

          1) I’m self-employed.
          2) I do only contract work, project based.
          3) I buy my own health insurance.
          4) I’m managing my own retirement funds (planning on no Social Security at all.)
          5) I make a lot of money, because people in my industry know me, know my capabilities and reputation, and know I can get the job done.
          6) I make my own decisions on what I want and don’t want in a gig.

          And I love it. I’m saving for a retirement that I may never bother with, because I am having a ball, I get to travel all over the world, and I make a really good living.

          So, fuck you, Tony. You don’t get to decide what’s best for me. I do. I have. I really hope that pisses you off.

        6. Lets say I drive for Uber and Lyft 50/50.

          How will you decide who pays for the employee costs?

          Are there ever any real “contractors” in your eyes?

          Or should everyone be an employee. Even the guy who cuts my lawn once a week.

          You will run into these issues in the real world, where not everyone works for a big factory 9 to 5.

    2. You do realize that people who drive for Uber choose this job for themselves, right. Like, people want to do it.

      So maybe the answer is if you don’t like the employment structure of Uber, don’t fucking work with them, and shut the fuck up so that people who do like it can do so without some authoritarian cunt getting in the way.

      1. But then the Taxi companies and their faithful, hard working employees suffer, you awful awful person!!!

    3. You don’t actually have an argument in her favor do you? You’re just throwing out troll bait.

    4. This article needed an idiotic post that in no way addresses any of the issues raised but moves the goalposts not just off the field but into the street, and dammit, Tony, you didn’t let us down.

    5. If by ‘indentured’ you mean ‘free to leave their job at any time they like’, then yes, indentured. In the same sense that I am indentured to the Taco Bell I frequent to exchange the fruits of my labor for quesadillas.

      Try looking words up before you us them. You’re catechresis is getting kind of embarrassing.

    6. How are uber drivers indentured servants? Does it bother you when people freely choose to work there?

  14. Because of the manifold advantages to drivers and customers, they are quite popular with a class of urban professionals the Democrats should not go out of their way to alienate.

    They may also want to give strong consideration to the small but growing number of urban black folks that use Uber for rides in neighborhoods that traditional cabs typically refuse to service.

    1. And let the black folks leave the urban fief and venture out into the suburbs?!! Are you mad? They might never come back! Who would pay for the pensions then?

    2. I would have used it when I got stranded in a dicey part of the Southside Chicago. I asked a bodega worker for a cab company number and he said ‘cabs don’t come down here,’ so I put on my crazy-face and walked out. If uber had existed it would have been the perfect option.

  15. Give it another year and the democrats will turn on the so-called “sharing economy” with a hateful vengeance, just like they did HMOs in the 90s.

  16. Uber drivers may not know it yet, but they’ll be happier when they are made full time employees, and then immediately let go.

    1. Have a little snort Len.

  17. burn the witch

  18. This is just her giving a shout out to the taxi & limo unions. She probably had their check in her pocket during the speech.

    But I will be sure to bring this up, whenever Hillary comes up, to the hipster progs I know who get around using uber and love how cheap it is.

  19. my buddy’s step-aunt makes $68 /hour on the laptop . She has been without a job for nine months but last month her check was $99350 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check my source
    http://www.jobnet10.com

  20. my buddy’s step-aunt makes $68 /hour on the laptop . She has been without a job for nine months but last month her check was $99350 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check my source
    http://www.jobnet10.com

  21. Yeah lets bash on Uber….the nearly only way to get a decent, friendly cab driver in NYC. Brilliant! Thanks Big Brother!

  22. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  23. How ya likin’ it, Liberaltarians?

  24. I generally try to believe that people are mistaken, rather than evil. And yet I think this line

    “. . . especially for the vast majority who don’t work such jobs, relying on a basic “let’s help the little guy” desire to make corporations give more and the ol’ working (wo)man to get more.”

    is giving people too much credit. I think the vast majority of people who want to ban a service they are not required to use have bad motives. I believe many people would love to be more independent if it didn’t involve risk. It just sounds better to say you are worried about Uber drivers than to admit you are jealous that they are brave enough to try this new thing.

  25. It’s worth reading certain essays in James C Scott’s ‘Two Cheers for Anarchism’ with these issues in mind. Of particular interest are the ones dealing with the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of both the state and modern employment, and how many people, given the opportunity, will forgo the stability and possibility higher compensation of a tradition wage job for the independence, self-direction, and responsibility of working for themselves. Uber, Air BnB, Etsy, etc. have made it easier than ever to work for yourself precisely because the producers and service providers have thus far been able to fly under the regulatory radar – and here comes the progs to fuck over something awesome and completely voluntary and non-violent. Fuck them.

    1. Not to mention that it was onerous regulations put in by the Progs that edged a lot of people out of jobs to begin with.

      Yep. I really never doubt that they are mendacious at their core. They really really don’t want people to be independent, wealthy, or succeed.

      They merely invite us to kneel.

  26. What baffles me most about this argument against uber is that, at least in NYC, all yellow cab drivers are classified as independent contractors as well. This fact is being conveniently ignored in yet another effort to demonize uber. Ridiculous.

  27. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

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