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Is Uber the New Dole?

Discussions about the economic and financial ramifications of PEAK OIL

Is Uber the New Dole?

Unread postby evilgenius » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 13:25:29

I was talking to a friend of mine in the UK. The conversation came round to the dole. The UK still has a dole. My friend said that you would have a hard time getting those people on it to do anything. They don't seem to respond to incentives. That got me thinking about what life is like in the US, where there isn't a dole anymore. Over here, since there isn't any money in remaining idle, people will do many chump things for money. One of those is to participate in the gig economy. They will gladly do this and that for less than minimum wage because it was their idea, so to speak.

Nobody is going to get rich driving for Uber or doing something for someone else that they were too cheap to hire a real contractor to do. But there is money in that. There is enough to stay out of the dumpster. You could even argue that a slavish embracing of overly legally structured industries, like taxi cab businesses, has been detrimental to the health of the overall economy. Lots of other businesses can thrive because Uber takes people to their door, and taxis only used to take a much smaller figure. Cities may thrive where they were once dying. All they have to do is put up with a five to ten fold increase in dangerous driving because of all the amateurs making u-turns in front of oncoming traffic, or sitting in unsafe places with their flashers on in order to make a dime. Let's not go overboard. Taxi drivers were always just as bad. It's just that there were never so many taxi drivers as there are Uber drivers now.

Then, too, the current gig situation looks short lived. Pretty soon it will give way to automation. Is that when the people will organize? Is that when the supply side, the entrepreneurs responsible for much of this, many of whom can already see where this is going, will do something about it. It is from the supply side that the idea of a universal basic income has the most support. But wouldn't that just be like returning to the dole?
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Re: Is Uber the New Dole?

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 13:47:24

evilgenius wrote:Then, too, the current gig situation looks short lived. Pretty soon it will give way to automation. Is that when the people will organize? Is that when the supply side, the entrepreneurs responsible for much of this, many of whom can already see where this is going, will do something about it. It is from the supply side that the idea of a universal basic income has the most support. But wouldn't that just be like returning to the dole?

Good questions.

For the first time in my adult life, I have moved to the side of supporting "the dole" (if you will), via the idea of a UBI, in some form. (Call it a Basic Income, as I don't want to pay it to rich people, people already on social security, disability, etc. who don't need it, or people who generally don't need it.)

IF and WHEN automation gets to the point that there is widespread unemployment because there simply aren't jobs (at some pay scale society agrees is "enough") to be had -- I flip to supporting that. Why? It's because if there truly aren't the jobs to be had, that's not the fault of the people without incomes.

Now, given that in the current US economy, we're at "full employment" and the current worry is that the economy is getting too strong and we're about to have meaningful inflation due to resource (mainly labor) constraints, despite the mess from 2008-2009, and the fears about automation vs. jobs -- we apparently aren't there YET, anyway.

Your point about the gig market and the fact that it (IMO) is merely a dodge to avoid paying the minimum wage, is valid. That can be fixed via legislation. Simply, a legal gig must pay the minimum wage equivalent, or massive fines, jail time for lots of violations, etc. would fix that.

Now, in the given system where, for example, cheap migrant "gig" labor picking fruits and veggies at piece rate, often well below minimum wage -- GOOD LUCK getting people to support such legislation. This would include many liberal voters, IMO, who very much are against seeing the prices of their food increase (or even skyrocket).

So good questions, but I don't see much in the way of easy or likely answers in the short term.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Is Uber the New Dole?

Unread postby evilgenius » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 14:02:46

I don't see too many quick solutions either. I think that in the social media world public pressure has more import than it used to. The gig companies who are coordinating the work are responding, at least in certain places, and also because of government, with rules about how many hours can be spent behind the wheel before a person must take a break. There has been a lot of hemming and hawing about background checks. Personally, I feel as if there ought to be a two tiered system with those. If a defenseless person, like a child, is under the care of someone I want them to have to get past the most stringent sort of checks, whereas someone who takes the risk of riding with Uber ought to consider that those people only have to pass a streamlined check. They might not have axe murdered anyone yet, but it isn't our concern that they might sit around all day fantasizing about it. That's just my opinion. Other people want safety to be a higher concern.

I do think the pace of technological change surrounding this issue is progressing far faster than any political reaction to it can. We may wind up scrapping several well intentioned political responses before things take final shape. We may contradict ourselves.
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Re: Is Uber the New Dole?

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 14:22:06

evilgenius wrote: There has been a lot of hemming and hawing about background checks.

Given how ineffective our safety and enforcement agencies have been re unstable mass shooters in recent years (almost all have been on the radar, but essentially allowed to do what they wanted re access to guns), I'll believe government is highly effective at keeping riders safe from possible nefarious Uber drivers when I see it. Just my opinion.
I do think the pace of technological change surrounding this issue is progressing far faster than any political reaction to it can. We may wind up scrapping several well intentioned political responses before things take final shape. We may contradict ourselves.

Excellent point. One only needs to look at the SEC and HFT and how far behind/ineffective they are, or how little forward thinking government seems to be doing about the coming automation of cars and trucks, to see a couple of obvious examples.

Contradicting ourselves is a risk. IMO, doing little or nothing and allowing chaos to ensue is a far bigger risk. At least contradictions can be observed and rectified.

For example, I might argue that over time, the federal tax system has been one large mass of contradictions, inflamed by competing financial interests, and evolving in reaction to both. Speaking of chaos...
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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