Way too little, way too late for a fast-moving Omicron variant


I’m having to do way, way, way too much that seems like cooking lately. I hate it. It is not where I want my head to be even for a nanosecond. And so I’ve just ruined yet another rice cooker because even remembering to put the liner back in is too much, far beyond way too much.

I ruined the rice cooker last night. Today, I couldn’t even stand to make myself a sandwich for lunch.

I am profoundly unhappy with my life. I’m stuck participating in a blatant and utterly degrading fraud[1] (see below) because I can’t get a real job.[2] I live alone; my ‘vibrant’ social life exists entirely on Twitter. And it’s not, no way, no how, a life worth living.


(Inter)national

By the time we have enough information to institute a travel ban, the cat’s already out of the bag, so to speak. Omicron has already been detected in other continents. A travel ban could in theory buy some time by reducing the spread of new seed cases, but we are talking on the order of days to weeks.[3]

Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/

Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491

Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/

Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/

Chico Harlan and Lesley Wroughton, “Omicron variant detected from Britain to Hong Kong as countries race to impose controls,” Washington Post, November 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/covid-variant-fallout-omnicron/2021/11/27/8c6e0548-4f02-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html

Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html

Rachel Pannett, “As omicron variant is detected around the world, travel bans may be too late, experts say,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/28/omicron-variant-coronavirus/


Uber

There are a few games that Uber and Lyft play to disguise how much of any fare they’re keeping in fees from drivers. One of them is by simply not telling us what the total fare is.

Another is through various “promotions,” which are essentially bonus schemes tied to providing a certain number of rides, sometimes in particular areas, sometimes during “surges” in demand, sometimes over a period of hours, sometimes over a period of days. With Uber, one of the latter is regularly scheduled to cover periods from Monday through Thursday and Friday through Sunday. And for each such “quest,” I see two tiers: the one I select and one that’s ten or twenty rides more. What this means is if I do that latter number of rides more than I select, I actually collect the bonus for the next higher “quest.” It’s all generally less than $100, but it’s a significant bump to my gross revenue, so I watch how many rides I’m doing and adjust accordingly.

With Uber, I am prompted to select a “quest” on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the Friday through Sunday and Monday through Thursday periods respectively. This didn’t happen last Wednesday, prompting me to wonder if Uber had ended the scheme, perhaps, I thought, because the bezzle[4] was coming to an end. This was before news of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 broke Friday,[5] but it was on Friday that I knew clearly that I hadn’t simply failed to find the weekend “quest” and that there really wasn’t one.

On Saturday, however, I got prompted again as usual. So I don’t know why it hadn’t happened the preceding Wednesday. But the pandemic crimped both Uber and Lyft’s profits as both riders and drivers fled their platforms and longstanding doubts about their business model and potential for profitability persisted.[6] With the new variant,[7] those doubts will be renewed.

As I noted earlier,[8] the term ‘bezzle’ is “John Kenneth Galbraith’s coinage for an investment swindle where the losses have yet to be recognized;”[9] the Uber and Lyft bezzles appear to target the stock market,[10] which took a dive on news of Omicron.[11] It’s a holiday weekend, so at this writing, we don’t know what will happen on Monday.

What I do know, without doubt, is that Uber and Lyft are not forever on this earth.[12] Sooner or later, investors will get wise to the bezzles. And that will be the end for these companies. The question for me, right now, is whether Omicron will precipitate that end.


Militia

Joan E. Greve, “‘A core threat to our democracy’: threat of political violence growing across US,” Guardian, November 27, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/27/political-violence-threats-multiplying-us


  1. [1]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  3. [3]Nicole A. Errett, quoted in Rachel Pannett, “As omicron variant is detected around the world, travel bans may be too late, experts say,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/28/omicron-variant-coronavirus/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  5. [5]Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/; Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491; Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/; Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/
  6. [6]Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/; Tina Bellon and Akanksha Rana, “Uber posts $509 mln adjusted loss on driver incentives even as trips rise,” Reuters, August 4, 2021, copy in possession of author; Meghan Bobrowsky, “Uber Ridership Rebounds From Pandemic Lows,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-record-bookings-as-ridership-rebounds-and-delivery-continues-to-grow-11628107899; Cory Doctorow, “End of the line for Uber,” Pluralistic, August 10, 2021, https://pluralistic.net/2021/08/10/unter/#bezzle-no-more; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Laura Forman, “Lyft Makes Its Move in Race for Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-makes-its-move-in-race-for-profits-11628029254; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Drive Investors Away,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-drive-investors-away-11628115638; Aarian Marshall, “Gig Companies Fear a Worker Shortage, Despite a Recession,” Wired, March 5, 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/gig-companies-fear-worker-shortage-despite-recession/; Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389; Preetika Rana, “Uber, Lyft Prices at Records Even as Drivers Return,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyft-drivers-are-coming-back-but-prices-arent-falling-11628337601; Trading Places Research, “Uber And Lyft: The Limits Of The Amazon Model,” Seeking Alpha, August 15, 2021, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4449578-uber-and-lyft-the-limits-of-the-amazon-model
  7. [7]Chico Harlan and Lesley Wroughton, “Omicron variant detected from Britain to Hong Kong as countries race to impose controls,” Washington Post, November 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/covid-variant-fallout-omnicron/2021/11/27/8c6e0548-4f02-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html; Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/; Rachel Pannett, “As omicron variant is detected around the world, travel bans may be too late, experts say,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/28/omicron-variant-coronavirus/; Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491; Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/; Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/; Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  9. [9]Yves Smith, “Uber Is Headed for a Crash,” New York, December 4, 2018, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/will-uber-survive-the-next-decade.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  11. [11]Joe Wallace, Quentin Webb, and Suryatapa Bhattacharya, “Stocks, Oil Drop on Concerns Over New Covid-19 Variant,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stock-markets-dow-update-11-26-2021-11637901748
  12. [12]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/

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