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Uber Drivers Are Contractors, Not Employees, Labor Board Says (nytimes.com)
315 points by MBCook 41 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 340 comments

Relying on corporations to help the lower middle class, is an outdated idea. Corporations are expressly designed to create value at the lowest possible cost, which necessarily means minimizing labor expenses. Relying on corporations to achieve universal healthcare and a living wage, is expressly going against what they were designed for.

There is a far better way to help the lower middle class: through the government. Raise taxes on the rich, raise the capital gains tax rate, and use the revenue to subsidize college tuition, to provide universal healthcare, and to supplement the earned income tax credit.

Let corporations do what they do best: provide services at the lowest possible cost. And start demanding that our government do what it's supposed to do: ensure that the wealth generated by corporations is adequately shared by all.

Europe already does this, to a reasonable extent. So do most developed countries (Japan, Australia, for example).

It's really the US that lags behind in almost all aspects of taking care of its citizens.

agreed. Ordoliberalism is really the only fungible path to ensuring most people in a society get a fair shake.

The social market economy has been very successful, but your use of “fungible” doesn’t seem to make sense, unless this is satire.

> And start demanding that our government do what it's supposed to do: ensure that the wealth generated by corporations is adequately shared by all.

On what basis do you think this is the proper role for government?

Disheartening that my comment has drawn some negative reactions.

A public policy of forced "sharing" of wealth has an absolutely abysmal track record. Any supporters of that idea willing to explain why they think it will work this time? Anybody want to take my question seriously and answer what philosophy of government they are using to claim that redistribution of wealth is the proper role for government?

> A public policy of forced "sharing" of wealth has an absolutely abysmal track record.

A public policy of forced sharing of wealth is what distinguishes the developed societies of the modern world from those of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (that is, it distinguished modern mixed economies from true capitalism), and it's what has made possible anything but a miserable existence for the bulk of society, the working class.

Every debate over this issue in modern developed societies is mostly, in effect, a debate over fine-tuning parameters, not over whether or not to have such a policy in the first place, except where some economic reactionary is preaching a return to 19th century capitalism.

So, no, your premise that it has an abysmal rack record is as wrong as it is possible to be; it (forced sharing over an otherwise capitalist property structure) has the best track record for human conditions of any broad class of economic approaches ever tried.

There might be better options that haven't been properly tried, sure, but that's a bit speculative.

I think there is some ambiguity here as to whether you are defending redistribution as a means to an end or as an end unto itself.

To clarify, if you assert that a proper role of government is to provide a basic safety net for all citizens, then you could follow that up with the idea that some revenue is required to meet that goal and that might include "forced sharing" -- taxes of some sort.

On the other hand if you start out with the statement that redistributing wealth is the goal itself, then you are talking about something entirely different and it is this idea that I was suggesting as having an abysmal track record.

So my question remains, what philosophy of government starts with the idea that the proper role of government is to redistribute wealth forcibly?

"Providing a safety net for all citizens" is really just wealth redistribution. So too is progressive taxation (as opposed to flat taxes), which is something you're presumably in favor of.

I tried to make it clear that there is a difference between taxation to further a legitimate government role (e.g. National Defense) and viewing redistribution itself as a goal (it isn't fair that some people have more money than others, lets fix that!). That distinction is what I wanted to clarify because the OP I replied to was suggestive of redistribution as a goal, which is worrisome.

20th and 21st century societies are largely better off because capitalism has drastically increased quality of life by making many goods and services faster, cheaper and better. Saying that this progress is due to government redistribution policies is a huge stretch. Many places few or no such policies have seen an massive increase in quality of life in the past 120 years that can only be attributed to something other than government intervention. Most of the 20th century’s biggest failures were due to government intervention.


The other thing worth considering is that many of the socieities that have fared the best over the past 300-400 years are almost invariably in places with four distinct seasons. The reason for this is that seasons are a forcing function to make sure planning and long termism becomes part of the culture. If you don’t plan for surviving winter, you die. If you learn how to plan for winter, you sharpen skills that can be used to plans years ahead. Tropical climates don’t have this benefit.

All government policies are redistributive. Capping payroll taxes is redistributive. A lower income tax rate for capital gains is redistributive. Limiting recovery for wrongdoing is redistributive. Limiting "lemon laws" to a small number of days and only for brand new cars is redistributive. Corporate liability shields are redistributive. Establishing slavery was redistributive, and abolishing it was redistributive. Every single economic policy choice, from protecting private property to subsidizing beachfront property insurance, changes wealth distribution. So it's interesting to me that those who espouse unfettered capitalism seem to oppose only those redistributive policies that help poor people.

> All government policies are redistributive.

Doing nothing is not redistributive. No policy at all means accepting the distribution that occurs naturally (i.e. without interference) between two or more parties to a transaction.

So would you be in favor of abolishing all corporations?

If you aren't willing to take that radical step, then "doing nothing" is off the table.

I'm having a hard time parsing your comment.

You seem to be equating "redistributing wealth" with "any government action". It is certainly true that almost any government action changes something and thus can affect the economy in general but that doesn't mean those two phrases are interchangeable. For me, your formulation is just confusing.

You are also throwing up a straw-man argument of "unfettered capitalism". Advocating for a limited government with proscribed powers that don't involve a primary goal of "redistributing wealth" is not a statement about "capitalism" or advocating for "unfettered capitalism". It is a statement about the role of government.

It's not a particularly subtle or difficult point. Every time the government touches anything having to do with money, it has a redistributive effect.

For example, if the government limits who has standing to sue under environmental statutes, and decreases enforcement, it redistributes wealth from the poor who were using a natural resource to any company that may have polluted or depleted it.

The comment to which I was responding said explicitly that "capitalism has drastically increased quality of life" and that "[m]ost of the 20th century’s biggest failures were due to government intervention." Talking about the weaknesses of capitalism when it is unfettered by government intervention is clearly on-point.

On the other hand, I don't see anyone saying redistribution should be "a primary goal," as you characterize it. Where are you seeing that?

I'm seeing that here in the first message I replied to:

> And start demanding that our government do what it's supposed to do: ensure that the wealth generated by corporations is adequately shared by all.

Fair enough, mea culpa.

I wonder if a simple change to Uber's app would fix all this -- let drivers set their own rates, and customers could pick from a number of drivers nearby based on how close they are, and what rate they charge. And/or let customers put out a bid for the rate they want to pay, then any driver can accept that bid and get the fare.

That way drivers could be more legally considered contractors (they set their own rates), and none would feel underpaid (after all they get paid the rates they set).

FYI, Sidecar did this in 2013 - you could set your own price, both as a rider and driver. Then, when you request a ride, it would be more like market-making, with you getting matched with the driver whose price is closest to your requested price, but under it. I personally tried using this many times - it was a poor experience for riders. I can imagine it wasn't very pleasant for drivers either.

The theoretical ideal price for a ridesharing trip changes in realtime and depends on many different factors like how many drivers are nearby, how many other riders are nearby, each driver's willingness to drive to your destination, etc. Letting riders and drivers set their own prices would make the market significantly less efficient, and would make both the experience for both sides of the marketplace quite miserable, especially during events like demand spikes. There is literally a several hundred-strong organization at Uber (Marketplace) whose single focus is to make a maximally efficient marketplace. It's honestly kind of dismissive to suggest something like this, and to call it "a simple change".

Disclaimer: the above is not meant to be a representation of how Uber pricing works, just my own theoretical musing

Honestly, even trying to achieve the "theoretical ideal price" based on supply and demand is already screwing up with the market. Regular people are not like HFT algorithms, with infinite pools of money available and ability to turn opportunity cost into profit. Having a stable and predictable price is important when deciding whether or not order a taxi/rideshare at all.

(At least, that's my experience. I wonder what your data has to say on it.)

As a customer, I'd be happiest if taxi companies charged a rate per-km, that's calculated off their consumables + car amortization + some reasonable profit margin. I think drivers may be happier too - recent personal experience with myTaxi shows this. They offered a promotion in which the passenger would pay a fixed cost known immediately in the app, but which calculations changed every day or so. Some days, it would become a good deal for the drivers; other days, the drivers would be working at a loss. I had a lot of problems getting a ride when using this promotion, and chatting with the drivers revealed that they instinctively ignore those requests, as from their POV the profits are unreliable.

This is exactly how Sidecar used to work.


Sidecar was acquired by GM after it shut down at the end of 2015.

Yes. From the article ->

"given that drivers cannot set prices or market their personal services to potential customers. The driver’s entrepreneurial opportunities are almost “completely circumscribed by the company’s control of the price,” she said."

This actually exists in Rio.

Yellow cab drivers agitated for banning Uber and instead the city government made them a ride hailing app where they can choose how much to discount over full price.

I haven’t used it, but know people who do. It’s kind of up to consumers to figure out how much to pay vs how much to wait.

these apps exist in Colombia, probably other knock offs i'm not aware of as well

Here in Australia, most drivers seem to be using several other apps (Didi, Ola, etc) at the same time as Uber. So in that sense, they are a contractor in my eyes.

They also, obviously, set their own hours and choose at any time to work or not work.

Per https://legal.uncc.edu/legal-topics/contracts/contract-check...

"If the worker is not integrated into the institution's operations and the right of control is not obviously apparent (no training, no work hours, no reports), you are reasonably safe as long as the relationship is short-term and the independent contractor has other customers."

I would say "integrated into the institution's operations" is the very definition of Uber drivers. (What is Uber except for a network of drivers?) And as far as "right of control": here's an app that tells you exactly where to go, who to pick up, what route to follow, how much to collect. Many drivers are not "short-term" nor have other "customers."

Most serious drivers use multiple ridesharing apps. They very much have other customers.

Drivers as a group are integrated into Uber's operations, but an individual driver is not. Nothing at Uber depends on a certain driver being available. Contrast that with most non-contracting jobs where operations depend on an employee being at work and doing their job.

Obviously there is no right of control of Uber drivers. They can choose to accept a contract or not, with no repercussions if they choose not to accept. The fact that the contract has clearly defined terms such as who to pick up, where to go, etc. does not mean the driver isn't contracting (since doing a job that has clear terms is the definition of contracting...).

Other than the 'short-term' aspect, Uber drivers are pretty clearly contractors by that definition.

That's dependent on your definition of integrated. Uber drivers never go into Uber's offices. They never meet Uber staff or managers (the actual employees of Uber). That's possibly as far from "integrated" as you can get. Uber drivers have a very similar relationship to Uber as it's customers do -- but you wouldn't argue the customers are integrated.

They may be essential for Uber's business but that is different. Customers are also essential. Contractors can be essential.

By your logic craigslist sellers are employees of craigslist. What is craigslist but a network of buyers and sellers?

Craigslist sellers decide on the price, how to exchange goods and money, etc. Uber and Lyft are not free marketplaces where drivers can offer a ride for a price they believe to be fair for their services - the platform owners decide the prices and the drivers are forced to accept that rate in order to get rides.

But the drivers have the option to use another platform to get rides; they're not forced to stay on Uber only. They may also choose their own hours, Uber does not dictate when they must turn their apps on.

Well there's two important things to address there, and they're both a bit long-winded, but bear with me.

First, despite all the discussions of Uber's/Lyft's full-time drivers, there are some proportion of drivers who are just people looking to make an extra buck on their ride home from the airport and whatnot. These drivers really don't expect/require a lot of money, and are just padding their income driving somewhere they were already going. I had a friend with a six-figure income who would do Uber rides in San Diego just because it was an easy way to cover gas occasionally. This is important because it changes the market for taxi drivers - suddenly a regular and lucrative set of rides (to and from airports) have clientele who expect much cheaper rides - even if the cost those clients expect to pay can't support an individual working full time at that rate. But even if full-time drivers attempt to avoid the platform, the market has substantially changed - they can no longer get the same price for their rides. Now, this may just be a market correction, but let's look at the second factor...

Uber and Lyft and burning VC money to power their operation - Uber lost ~$1.1 billion dollars in Q1 2019 [0], and Lyft lost ~$1.14 billion in Q1 2019 [1]. These sorts of numbers tell us that Uber and Lyft are generating demand for an artificially low price for a service, which all but guarantees that the market for sustainably-priced taxi rides will be destroyed. Why would a customer purchase a ~$20 taxi fee when a VC-subsidised ~$10 ride exists?

The contention that Taxi drivers can "just not use Uber/Lyft" is pitting the depth of the pockets of taxi drivers against the pockets of Uber/Lyft's backers - it's not a reasonable expectation that taxi drivers can afford to wait out venture-capital subsidizing an unsustainable business model which destroys their livelihood in the meantime. According to the Federal Reserve in 2016, 46% of Americans reported that they would be unable to cover a $400 expense if some emergency came up [2]. I don't think we can look at Uber and say "Taxi drivers could choose not to use it" - it's looking at the choice to use the platform in absence of the context of venture capital and the support which exists for low-skilled workers against predatory employment practices.

[0] https://www.businessinsider.com/uber-earnings-q1-2019-losses...

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/07/lyft-lost-1-14b-in-q1-2019...

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/05/25/the-s...

if craigslist told people what price they had to charge, then you might have a point.

The ATO has this page defining the difference: https://www.ato.gov.au/business/employee-or-contractor/diffe...

On the employee side: a driver can not delegate work, is paid per activity, takes no commercial risk, has no control over how they do their work and are not operating independently. On the contractor side: The driver supplies most of the equipment (that's if you don't count the massive server side investment as equipment).

So far tax purposes at least uber drivers are employees, so the question is why did the ATO give them an ABN in the first place?

I only remember this from an article a while ago, but weren't some of the ride sharing companies actively taking measures against drivers who drove for competitors? If that is still the case I think this should be one of the key features that disqualifies them from being classified as mere contractors.

This isn't just in Australia. I see this everywhere, including in the US.

I am forced to treat the people who cut my lawn and clean my house as employees, according to tax law, for funding unemployment insurance among other things.

But Uber's labor force, without which literally the company wouldn't exist, are not eligible for the same benefits. The logical next step is that the company has no liability for anything that happens to you in one of their cars.

You treat your lawn care person and maid as employees? I guess if they are full time. My lawn care is completely contractor based- they provide tools, they set schedule, they don’t have a uniform set by me. They are exactly contractors. Same with my maid.

If I for some reason had an estate that required employee Lawncare this would be different and I would hire someone.

There’s a definition from the IRS in the US for employee and contractor that’s not exactly black and white but has many tests for who is an employee vs contractor.

Many people do not follow this, but


> You have a household employee if you hired someone to do household work and that worker is your employee. The worker is your employee if you can control not only what work is done, but how it is done. If the worker is your employee, it does not matter whether the work is full time or part time or that you hired the worker through an agency or from a list provided by an agency or association. It also does not matter whether you pay the worker on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, or by the job.

> Household work is work done in or around your home by the following people.

> Babysitters Caretakers Cleaning people Domestic workers Drivers Health aides Housekeepers Maids Nannies Private nurses Yard workers

From that link:

> You made an agreement with John Peters to care for your lawn. John runs a lawn care business and offers his services to the general public. He provides his own tools and supplies, and he hires and pays any helpers he needs. Neither John nor his helpers are your household employees.

In this comparison, a driver partner offers their services to multiple marketplaces, provides his own supplies, etc.

But the way I read this is that the helpers would have to be employed by John. So I don't understand where is the contractor loophole.

I don't think most people understand this principle. The deal you strike means nothing, There are laws that dictate who is an employee

"Household work is work done in or around your home by the following people.

Babysitters Caretakers Cleaning people Domestic workers Drivers Health aides Housekeepers Maids Nannies Private nurses Yard workers"

> The worker is your employee if you can control not only what work is done, but how it is done.

It's not just that they're doing household work, but also that they're doing it in a manner you direct. An Uber driver isn't getting me from point A to B in a manner Uber directs, or at least not always - otherwise I wouldn't see nearly as many drivers using Google Maps/Waze instead of Uber's navigation.

> The worker is your employee if you can control not only what work is done, but how it is done.

What does 'how it is done' mean?

If I ask a gardener to prune a bush he's a contractor, but if I have a conversation with him about how I want him to prune it is he then suddenly an employee?

Seems like it's very easy to accidentally make someone an employee by requesting they do something in a particular way.

It is hard to navigate and there’s lawyers and accountants who make a lot of money figuring that out.

I interpret it as directing work as a supervisor would exert “behavioral control.” For employees you control behavior. For contractors you control outcomes.

So if you give a step by step plan on how to prune to your gardener and require it precisely, that’s probably a contractor. If you require that he prune the bushes and don’t care how it’s done, then that’s likely a contractor.

I used work with programmers quite a bit. There are a few tests where you shouldn’t provide exact tools, set break times, set specific hours, exclusivity of work, require methods of pay for contractors as that is only possible with employees.

> I am forced to treat the people who cut my lawn and clean my house as employees, according to tax law, for funding unemployment insurance among other things.

It's the other way around: The people who cut your lawn force you to treat them as employees. What stops you from hiring a "proper" contractor?

> But Uber's labor force, without which literally the company wouldn't exist, are not eligible for the same benefits.

Yes, because they are contractors. They set their own hours and choose whether to show up or not. They don't have any of the duties that an employee has. Therefore, they don't have any of the rights either.

> The logical next step is that the company has no liability for anything that happens to you in one of their cars.

It's not their car. Uber is a middleman. That's what people don't understand. Their "added value" is to bring together service providers and service users. They don't provide insurance or anything.

They do provide insurance:


That's news to me, I stand corrected.

Having been an Uber /Lyft driver I can't even fathom what it would mean for a driver to be an employee with expenses paid. Is the driver driving a gas guzzling F250 entitled to a higher reimbursement for cost of driving than me driving a Honda insight?

If I owned the company, I'd rather buy vehicles (with which I can reasonably control costs) and provide the vehicle to the driver employee.

My second option, as owner, is to offer a fixed reimbursement - per mile, per minute, whatever the economics dictate.

I'm not, as owner, going to invite 'come one, come all' with their random expenses and offer to reimburse them all.

I think the default is the government reimbursement rate. This year it's $0.58/mi. When I worked at a pizza place in high school drivers were reimbursed at this rate. That's a similar market because pizza delivery drivers drive their personal vehicles and it doesn't matter if you drive a Prius or a Hummer.


Professional drivers already exist. Look at any taxi, delivery, bus or transit company. That's what Uber would do. Lease a bunch of vehicles and tell people to drive them for 8 hours a day for a flat rate, and they'll have strict hours and no flexibility.


> The memo released on Tuesday, which was dated April 16, has no long-term value as a precedent and can be reversed by a future general counsel. Its immediate consequence is to render moot three formal accusations, filed in different parts of the country, that Uber had violated federal labor law. The memo instructs the board’s regional offices to dismiss the charges if the people who made them do not withdraw them first.

I’m guessing (hoping, really) that Peter Robb is out at the NLRB in two years and someone far less right-wing replaces him. The biggest issue is that the NLRB hasn’t been pro-worker in a long time.

Taxi drivers have usually been considered independent contractors - what is different with Uber? I’m assuming it’s because Uber exercises more control over their income thru price adjustments (which taxi drivers aren’t subject to).

I think Uber drivers should be organizing for that kind of protection eg some accountability when Uber wants to drop rev share or fares.

The thing that always bugs me with these arguments is that people don't seem to bring up the idea of creating a new legal class for these types of workers. Arguing whether those workers fit contractors or employees isn't great to read about because frankly, they fit in neither.

From Uber/Lyft drivers, to Door Dash delivery workers, to any other sort of up and coming on demand work which I'm sure keep coming and evolving, I believe creating a new legal class would be well worth the effort rather than arguing about where they fit in the current system.

This type of solution isn't easy. With all the arguments about if the drivers are contractors or employees, creating a new class of workers will easily be just as difficult; instead of legal fees for the law interpretation, it'd be legal fees for law creation.

Agreed, but I would say that the whole employment/social insurance system is due for a big "refactoring". We have this hodge-podge of sorta-overlapping requirements based on long-obsolete and assumptions and models about how the labor force works that's we're expecting to meet some desiderata that it also incentivizes against.

We've already lost the game when we're counting angels on a pin to decide whether you're "really" an employee so your employer can be forced to provide insurance or pay into unemployment. But these things shouldn't be coupled at all. Everyone, regardless of how they get income, should pay into an employer-decoupled fund that can pay out for unemployment or health insurance. That frees up admin costs from employers and cleans up labor markets to compete over things that are actually relevant.

Contractor vs employee distinctions should only matter for liability, not for taxes or benefits.

I do think it’s probably correct that Uber drivers aren’t employees, setting their own schedule is a huge differentiator in the labor market. But I think that we might need a new classification (and labor protections) for people who are classified as contractors but fulfill such a large percentage of a company’s actual work on a permanent basis. The season temp and the Uber driver that’s mission critical to Uber’s daily functioning are just different from a labor perspective, and should be given different protections and leverage.

So do we need a middle type of worker at this point?

^^This is an incredibly important argument. Many Companies would love a middle road, as well as employees. The funniest part is that most "good" companies already operate on a performance basis. It should be considered

I'm not american, so I could be missing some nuance, but in general uber, lyft and other gig-businesses have created a new type of labour. A court or a board is going to approach this by analogy. Is this more similar to "contractors," day labourers, piecemeal arrangements, full time employees..

These gigs don't really fall into a pre-existing categories, or shouldn't. The dynamic is totally different. The issues are different and the whole thing merits its own fraework at this point.

It's not difficult to define "gigs" by their features (just like the features used to test the "contractor" definition).

W2 tax rate is the WORST in the country because regulations make it costly for both, employee and employer. At least as a contractor you can write things off fairly.

Contrary to nearly every other jurisdiction in the world. Fun times.

Why aren't Uber drivers considered franchisees?

Not in Switzerland. They're not.

At least not according to a 3 week old judgement by the Lausanne labor court, which ordered Uber to pay a driver for the legally mandated notice period after deactivating him.

And this is why you need unions. Join the IWW.

Id look at what the IRS says as well

(In the USA.)

One of the symptoms of our current political paralysis is the over-reliance on executive agencies to set policy instead of Congress debating and passing laws. Instead of trying to get net neutrality through law, we depend on the FCC trying to shoe-horn ISP into an old law designed for phone companies. Instead of explicitly talking about what protections people who sign up for the "gig" economy should get, we try to shoe-horn them into either employees or contractors when in reality they are in a gray zone and we don't have the political will to conduct a debate on what we should do.

The downside is instead of having an open debate about the pros/cons and having a law with some staying power, the situation changes depending on the whims of whoever is President and who they appoint to various administrative positions.

You want Congresspeople who are almost guaranteed have no expertise on most subjects setting technocratic policies? There is a reason these topics are delegates to experts. (Subject to executive and Congressional supervision.)

I'm sorry, what? The "over-reliance on executive agencies to set policy" is just shorthand for "congress can't pass these laws".

But that's not because some passive voice nonsense about "political paralysis", it's because these are partisan issues. One party doesn't want these laws to pass, and won't vote for them.

It's not a passive structural problem. There are good guys and bad guys here. If you actually care, it's time to take a stand.

Take a stand against who? The politicians are empowered by regular Americans who support them. Your neighbors and friends.


That’s not quite true since there are many Americans with exactly average so there aren’t half below average.

Maybe you could argue that half is below median IQ if you use a bunch of significant digits after the decimal, but I don’t think there are any exams that attempt to measure with such precision.


That’s crazy talk. Of course I want things to be better, but I’m not going to shove my politics into my neighbor’s face. Like most people, I believe strongly but privately. Not an activist.

I'm not saying you need to corner them at the next PTO meeting and hand them a revolutionary screed. But when subjects like these come up, the proper response is "The republicrat party supports these policies and has for decades, where the demicans have blocked every measure that's ever made it to the floor" AND NOT "LOL our political system is paralyzed so there's nothing we can do, amirite?"

Partisan issues[1] are not structural problems with the system, they're policy problems with one party. And in my experience people who try to make that argument (and variants, like "both sides do it") are just making excuses to treat the cognitive dissonance of cheering for the bad guys.

[1] Obvious disclaimer is obvious: not all issues are partisan. There are legitimate complaints to be made about any system of government. Some problems certainly can be structural. This one is not.

The American system is basically set up to be paralyzed. FPTP voting leads to two parties, voting for both an executive president and two legislative leaders leads to no single popular outcome, and the Senate exists to stop anyone from doing anything.

Having Mitch be majority leader makes it worse, but you can't solve it by getting rid of him. He's not blocking things because he feels like it; it's his job.

Conservation of status quo is a presidential republic's normal modus operandi. Do you want change back and forth like in Turkey?

I would like the level of change of any Commonwealth country with a working healthcare system.

Also the courts. Which is incredibly slow and painful for everyone involved.

This is by good design. Laws and action made in haste are rarely positive.

If the legislative body could be counted on to do their job, rather than this bizarre notion they have gotten that they are the Spanish Inquisition, then perhaps we could get somewhere.

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