Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Uber awful

The minute I laid eyes on 'em, I knew they were no good.

At least one ride-sharing company has decided to openly defy city law that bans its unlicensed drivers from charging for rides.

While a few free-ride promotions remain ongoing, Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian confirmed Tuesday that the service, which connects interested riders with willing drivers via smartphone apps, is indeed charging for rides and will “stand by” any drivers who receive city citations.

Where are all the conservatives crying "illegal"?  We certainly aren't going to find them in a federal courtroom, sitting higher than everybody else.

A federal judge Monday declined to issue a temporary restraining order sought by Houston and San Antonio cab companies hoping to block ride-sharing services that permit riders to use smart phone applications to catch rides.

Houston-based U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore set a July 15 date for an injunction hearing, which could result in stopping the smartphone-based companies from operating or give city ordinances as chance to catch up with the technology.

Gilmore said she had some "real concern" about whether the taxi and limousine companies had standing for a temporary restraining order, and added that she was particularly concerned about doing anything that stands in the way of a political process that already is under way.

Isn't that wonderful.  Let's break the law AND have the judge blow it off.

This is the same company that is busily lining up behind Google and Facebook with their own grandiose schemes to take over the world.

Honestly, I think what finished it for me was when I saw one of the local diehard Democratic activists -- he has both pimped Uber relentlessly and also drove the presidential limo when Obama came to town earlier this month -- compliment Robert Miller, Republican fundraiser and Uber lobbyist, on his sartorial splendor at City Hall.  If you needed a better example of class warfare, waged on the poor from the Democrats and the Republicans working in harmony, I do not know where you might find it.  Oh wait.

Oligarchy, it's what's for dinner.  I just don't think trust fund millennials are ever going to get it, even if they read this.

There is nothing progressive about lowering earnings for working-class people, nor is there anything progressive about undercutting labor costs to the point workers are driven into poverty and homelessness. It's a game as old as the laborers in the days of the Bible and as recent as those sweating in the mines of Western and Southern Africa. Play the working class against one another for the benefit of the wealthy who seek to be served no matter the human cost.

Texas Monthly weighed in also with the public policy perspective.

Regulating services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar is important. Companies that profit off of public infrastructure (i.e., roads) need to pay taxes that help maintain that infrastructure, but that's just the beginning of the question. Are the unlicensed, part-time, "your driver is your buddy" chaffeurs of Lyft and Sidecar safe behind the wheel, if there's no regulation? Cities have a legitimate interest in regulating taxi franchises for multiple reasons: safety, tax purposes, and ensuring that there are enough cabs on the road—i.e., that the business model remains profitable enough that people continue becoming cab drivers—to provide travelers with the ability to, say, get to and from the airport in a reasonable manner. 

All the cab companies have ever said is that Uber and the rest of these operations should abide by the same city laws that they have for decades.  Uber cannot seem to do that.

I wouldn't hire this outfit to clean out my garage.  And to be clear, everybody that does hire them is fighting the class war on the side of the wealthiest against everybody else.

Texpate has some additional thoughts on the libertarian lousiness that is Uber, and Kuffner has been all over it (mostly from the opposite perspective).  With the first draft of the ride-sharing ordinance made public, the heated discussions will now begin.  As with Houston's proposed non-discrimination ordinance, it's time to make your city council member hear your voice.

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