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Monday, 11 July 2022

Uber - How Illegal Became Acceptable

The Guardian, and to its partial credit the BBC, have brought us some worrying news about driver and rider matching service Uber - as in, even more worrying than what we already knew, which was bad enough. We already knew the operation in London was illegal (see HERE) and that Uber had appealed over the top of TfL to the Government to sort matters.

Now we know just what was behind the move into markets like that in London, where the city’s then very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, having told the city’s black cab drivers that he was their pal, promptly ushered Uber through a very open door and screwed up the livelihoods of many of them. It seems Bozo had been leaned on.

Some of what the Guardian has reported bears repetition: “A leaked trove of confidential files has revealed the inside story of how the tech giant Uber flouted laws, duped police, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments during its aggressive global expansion” for starters.

There was more. “Leaked messages suggest Uber executives were at the same time under no illusions about the company’s law-breaking, with one executive joking they had become ‘pirates’ and another conceding: ‘We’re just fucking illegal.’” And behind this culture stood one individual

Uber’s first CEO Travis Kalanick, the modern day equivalent of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a robber baron for the 21st Century. No need to buy ships, port facilities, railroads and all that rolling stock: all that had been replaced by an app. Only by this much had the game changed since the days when Vanderbilt was engaged in his struggle with the Erie Gang.

The Guardian tells us just what Kalanick thought of the little people. “In one exchange, Kalanick dismissed concerns from other executives that sending Uber drivers to a protest in France put them at risk of violence from angry opponents in the taxi industry. ‘I think it’s worth it,’ he shot back. ‘Violence guarantee[s] success.’” So long as someone else got hurt, eh?

What the report also tells us is that Kalanick had a direct line to France’s then economy minister - and now PrĂ©sident - Emanuel Macron. He ridiculed the then Mayor of Hamburg, and now Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for demanding Uber comply with minimum wage requirements. And he lobbied George Osborne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to let Uber into the UK. Not that the BBC is telling you - they managed to omit that detail from their report.

And it is pretty clear that Bozo did nothing to stop them, and what came with them, the appalling driving standards, driver fatigue from having to work long hours to make ends meet, the lawbreaking, the record of driver misbehaviour which included sexual assaults on passengers and worse.

On top of that, the Guardian report confirms what many observers had already concluded - that those long hours and Uber shipping billions of US Dollars over time meant the business model was bust: “From Moscow to Johannesburg, bankrolled with unprecedented venture capital funding, Uber heavily subsidised journeys, seducing drivers and passengers on to the app with incentives and pricing models that would not be sustainable”.

But even so, “Uber undercut established taxi and cab markets and put pressure on governments to rewrite laws to help pave the way for an app-based, gig-economy model of work that has since proliferated across the world”. Union busting, exploitative, imposing poverty pay via the back door with only the prospect of those long hours to make a little more money.

And that is confirmation of what we thought all along. It’s also why right-wingers love Uber: indeed, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were in Uber’s corner from the word Go. It’s why the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press is largely ignoring this story. Just in case you still needed convincing that they couldn’t give a flying foxtrot about all those hard-working ordinary people they like to talk about.

The Tories screwed over the cab trade. Bozo was a willing accomplice. Bears shit in woods. And the right shits on ordinary workers. No change there, then.

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Mr Larrington said...

Kalanick is clearly cut from the same techbro cloth* as the rest of them. Some stories have been emerging from Tesla recently describing in detail what a total dick Elon “Space Karen” Musk is. Likewise it's apparently not nearly so nicey-nicey at Google as the Mountain View Chocolate Factory would have us believe.

* some kind of bizarre carbon-fibre/Teflon mashup, I think.

Anonymous said...

Just one example of now-standard corporate crookedness and slow destruction of lives and communities.

All of it aided by corrupt far right politicians and their mouthpiece media.

Global corporate laws must be changed to make it a CRIMINAL OFFENCE to inflict such damage. And to properly enforce such laws. A minimum twenty years stretch without parole would concentrate minds.

Commerce, trade, industry and business is owned and run by feudal economic Nazis free of conscience and social responsibility. Hence the "low-tax" (for themselves) bullshit.

There won't be the slightest improvement until we are rid of government-by-thieving-corporations and their bribed bureaucracies.

Expect another war in the East as circumstances worsen. Add in the usual propaganda and ask again: Who are we at war with, EurAsia or EastAsia?

Kalanick and Uber are a mere scabrous lesion on a cancerous arse.

AndyC said...

The trouble is, Uber is popular with the punters. The dirty dealings behind the scenes dont matter to them. The convenience is all that matters. I might add I have never ordered an Uber.

Anonymous said...

Outlaw lobbying. Outlaw thinktanks. Outlaw all undeclared donations. Simple as.

Anonymous said...

They offer nothing more than my local taxi company. They have an app, I order, I’m told a price, it shows me where the car is, I pay through the app. All this without surge pricing scam.

Gary said...

The right-wing bloggers such as Guido, Samizdata, Spectator, etc, have all been telling us how wonderful Uber is, that unregulated capitalism is flowers and rainbows and ponies.

When you have a market without rules, the cheaters and the bullies have the upper hand, you have a system that favours assholes.

Could it be that therein lies the clue for why the likes of thirsty Guido love the unfettered free market? That they are themselves assholes who prefer to cheat and pilfer?