Capitalist libertarians doing what they do: The case of Uber and Lyft in the almost post-pandemic

Gig economy

The chief executive officers of both Uber and Lyft remain in denial that driver wages are a problem as they bemoan long pickup times and high prices.[1]

We’re confident in our ability to execute.[2]

This is a capitalist libertarian mindset: They simply can’t conceive that there’s anything wrong with economic exploitation as they 1) claim to be increasing one-time incentives,[3] and 2) actually cut those incentives, only in part because they’re one-time incentives. Because that’s what they do[4] and they can’t imagine doing anything different.

Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html


Pittsburgh

I can imagine Tony Moreno choosing to accept a Republican nomination, achieved through write-in votes, to challenge[5] the presumptive winner of Pittsburgh’s mayoral race, Ed Gainey,[6] in in the November general election mainly because it appeared the only reason for him to run as a Democrat in the first place was that Republicans are effectively disenfranchised in a “heavily Democratic” city.[7] I can’t imagine Bill Peduto doing so if Moreno declines.[8]

Moreno reminds me a bit of Diane Feinstein in San Francisco. Feinstein would surely be a Republican if Republicans stood a chance in that city; her political appeal, even more so than Nancy Pelosi’s, is entirely to the well off who increasingly predominate there. Moreno is different in that he appeals rather to supporters of the police white supremacist gang. But the dynamic is much the same.

To give you an idea, I had a passenger this afternoon, whom I picked up in Blawnox. We were talking about road conditions in Pittsburgh and he was pessimistic that Gainey would improve the situation. Not because this isn’t an issue Gainey particularly emphasized in his campaign, but because someone he knew, an ex-cop, had supposedly busted Gainey 30 times decades ago.

Of course, the possibility that Gainey might have been racially profiled wasn’t a factor in this guy’s thinking. Nor was it a factor that cops are white supremacists.[9] And of course it never occurred to this guy, who plainly wasn’t rich, that in a constitutional oligarchy,[10] laws are passed by a group consisting overwhelmingly of wealthy white men mostly against everyone else,[11] and that that might have had something to do with it. Finally, the possibility that Gainey’s alleged troubles with the law might not have reflected on his immutable essence or that he might have redeemed himself since[12] also clearly played no role in this man’s thinking. No, it had to be that Gainey was “as crooked as they come.”

That doesn’t mean that Moreno will indeed take up the Republican mantle. It looks to me like he’d be tilting at windmills if he did, but then, that’s what he was doing when he ran in the first place. All that said, judging from yard signs, Moreno seems to enjoy support in some sections of Carrick, Bon Air, and New Homestead. If he’s sufficiently immersed in that bubble, I suppose he might.

On another note, I should probably admit that having gone out early to deal with a problem with my car’s sound system—the folks at Auto Addictions are great, by the way—I found myself hungry and went down to a waffle place (yes, they have vegan waffles, and man, oh man, do they charge extra for them) in the South Side to supplement my breakfast.

But I’ve called the South Side the place where stupid people go to do stupid stuff. And now I have validation from a neighbor who seems a lot more tolerant of the goings on there than I would be.[13]

Sean Collier, “The South Side Problem With No Solution,” Pittsburgh, May 24, 2021, https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/perspectives-the-south-side-problem-with-no-solution/

WTAE, “Retired police detective Tony Moreno has enough write-in votes to challenge Ed Gainey in race for Pittsburgh mayor in November,” May 25, 2021, https://www.wtae.com/article/tony-moreno-has-enough-write-in-votes-to-challenge-ed-gainey-in-mayoral-race/36536679


  1. [1]Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html
  2. [2]Dara Khosrowshahi, quoted in Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html
  3. [3]Jessica Bursztynsky, “Uber CEO is ‘not happy’ with how long it’s taking to pick riders up or prices being charged,” CNBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/25/uber-ceo-is-not-happy-with-driver-supply-pricing.html; Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/
  4. [4]Sarah Jaffe, “The battle for the future of ‘gig’ work,” Vox, May 18, 2021, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/22425152/future-of-gig-work-uber-lyft-driving-prop-22; Farhad Manjoo, “The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley,” New York Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/uber-ipo.html; 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; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Faiz Siddiqui, “Where have all the Uber drivers gone?” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/07/uber-lyft-drivers/
  5. [5]WTAE, “Retired police detective Tony Moreno has enough write-in votes to challenge Ed Gainey in race for Pittsburgh mayor in November,” May 25, 2021, https://www.wtae.com/article/tony-moreno-has-enough-write-in-votes-to-challenge-ed-gainey-in-mayoral-race/36536679
  6. [6]Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542; Charlie Wolfson, “Gainey topples Peduto in primary, will be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor barring a November challenge,” Public Source, May 18, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/gainey-topples-peduto-in-primary-on-course-as-first-black-pittsburgh-mayor/
  7. [7]Associated Press, “Pittsburgh votes out mayor in primary election,” Politico, May 18, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/18/pittsburgh-votes-out-mayor-in-primary-election-489542
  8. [8]WTAE, “Retired police detective Tony Moreno has enough write-in votes to challenge Ed Gainey in race for Pittsburgh mayor in November,” May 25, 2021, https://www.wtae.com/article/tony-moreno-has-enough-write-in-votes-to-challenge-ed-gainey-in-mayoral-race/36536679
  9. [9]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; Tim Craig, “Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter activists clashed in a Florida suburb. Only one side was charged,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/florida-protest-bill-unequal-treatment/2021/02/01/415d1b02-6240-11eb-9061-07abcc1f9229_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Jeet Heer, “How Not to Mourn George Floyd,” The Time of Monsters, April 21, 2021, https://jeetheer.substack.com/p/how-not-to-mourn-george-floyd; Arelis R. Hernández and Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., “Black Americans are buoyed by Chauvin conviction, but they worry it will blunt pace of reform,” Washington Post, April 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/20/chauvin-verdict-black-americans/; Jason Johnson, “I'm not happy. I'm not relieved. The verdict is a cultural make-up call. This ruling means it takes a Black man being murdered on TV in front of millions, a years worth of protest and a phalanx of white cops saying "this is wrong" for a black person to get a scintilla of justice,” Twitter, April 20, 2021, >https://twitter.com/DrJasonJohnson/status/1384637989444325378; Kimberly Kindy, Mark Berman, and Kim Bellware, “After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups,” Washington Post, January 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/police-capitol-riot-extremists/2021/01/24/16fdb2bc-5a7b-11eb-b8bd-ee36b1cd18bf_story.html; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Kurtis Lee, “Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-04-20/jury-verdict-derek-chauvin-george-floyd-death; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; German Lopez, “Police officers are prosecuted for murder in less than 2 percent of fatal shootings,” Vox, April 2, 2021, https://www.vox.com/21497089/derek-chauvin-george-floyd-trial-police-prosecutions-black-lives-matter; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Alanna Durkin Richer and Lindsay Whitehurst, “1 verdict, then 6 police killings across America in 24 hours,” Associated Press, April 24, 2021, copy in possession of author; Jon Schuppe, “Police across U.S. respond to Derek Chauvin trial: ‘Our American way of policing is on trial,’” NBC News, April 15, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/police-across-u-s-respond-derek-chauvin-trial-our-american-n1264224; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america; Raphael Warnock, “Today’s verdict affirming Derek Chauvin’s responsibility for killing George Floyd is the right outcome in this trial, but it is not justice. . . .” Twitter, April 20, 2021, https://twitter.com/SenatorWarnock/status/1384651251061858323
  10. [10]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “On the pretense of ‘law and order,’” Not Housebroken, September 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/11/on-the-pretense-of-law-and-order/
  12. [12]George Lakoff, Moral Politics, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002).
  13. [13]Sean Collier, “The South Side Problem With No Solution,” Pittsburgh, May 24, 2021, https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/perspectives-the-south-side-problem-with-no-solution/

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