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.
It's really the US that lags behind in almost all aspects of taking care of its citizens.
On what basis do you think this is the proper role for government?
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
If you aren't willing to take that radical step, then "doing nothing" is off the table.
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.
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?
> 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.
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).
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
(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.
Sidecar was acquired by GM after it shut down at the end of 2015.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
They may be essential for Uber's business but that is different. Customers are also essential. Contractors can be essential.
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 , and Lyft lost ~$1.14 billion in Q1 2019 . 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 . 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.
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?
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.
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.
> 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.
> 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.
"Household work is work done in or around your home by the following people.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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 think Uber drivers should be organizing for that kind of protection eg some accountability when Uber wants to drop rev share or fares.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Partisan issues 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.
 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.
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.