UberX and Lyft protests

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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:20 am

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:I'd like you to give me a logical reason why the government banned fuel-efficient cars for use in UberX or Lyft. It goes against not only government interest but also environmental interests. Fuel-efficient cars are often safer than gas guzzlers as well.


Well, the dare not speak for Shik or the DCTC caveats apply here, but I would imagine that since most taxis are compacts, by doing something like this they are looking to preserve some sort of differentiation between taxi services and Uber/Lyft style services.

That's not to say I agree with it, of course. If the government wants to protect municipal taxis from rootless faceless online corporate predators, they should do it properly, not with something half-arsed like this.

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:It certainly feels like government overreach, though. As a socialist, I'm against a nanny state, and that's what it's coming across as in my opinion.


Ohhhhh dear. Please tell me you aren't one of those Engels-inspired 'wither away the state' utopian Marxoids. With such muddleheaded dogmatism such sorts of 'socialists' are practically as bad as the libertarians.

Governments and states (the two should indeed be distinguished - states are continuous cultural and historical entities whereas governments are present-oriented political ones; it's only the relatively recent birth of the nation-state which has caused the two to be conflated, and when people say 'nanny state' they don't actually refer to the state but rather a certain paternalistic attitude in government) are and ought to be considered positive goods and should be treated as such. But given their power they are goods particularly prone to abuse. It's for this reason that governments need to have some kind of conscientious voice to which they are beholden, and some kind of check on their powers both in the state and in the civil society.

The taxi drivers represent the working class in a particular urban setting. They are rooted, they have local knowledge, they have accountability and they have homes to keep and families to feed. They are the voice of civil society in this case, as well as the only proletarian voice in the discussion. Anyone calling themselves 'socialist' SHOULD be particularly attentive to their demands and perspective, particularly against social-media based pirate capitalists and the affluent bourgeois temps who work for them, for whom taxiing (it may be safely considered) does not constitute a living in the full sense of the word.

The ultimate question is: is it fair to the taxi drivers who have worked so hard to earn and keep their medallions in cities like DC or NYC, that they now have to compete on an unequal basis with people who are not legally and finically accountable in the same way they are? Shik already highlighted some of the problems with this quite well.

James wrote:But at the same time, it strikes me as an intrusion for them to start regulating too much what really is an interaction between two residents of the city. Where would we draw the line? Is it commercial because a company is involved in facilitating their interaction? Should the same apply to social media? Should it apply to an individual transporting a friend's friend to the airport?


This may be a hard question, but it needn't be prohibitively so. GK Chesterton once said, 'art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere'.

After all, nobody had any problem with carpooling prior to this, and absolutely nobody sane is going to try and ban or regulate carpools (least of all taxi drivers), so that seems like a slippery-slope fallacy on your part. And clearly there is a difference-in-kind between driving a friend's friend to the airport (for free?) and offering a full-on paid private transportation service to the public.

Ultimately, my objections to organisations like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and the like are economic, and based on Tory-socialist economist Ruskin's objections to distorted and unfair pricing which comes from a cut-rate service (without conforming to the same standards of quality) competing in the same market as a service which does adhere to such standards. The people who are hurt by such distortions in the market are always going to be the urban proletariat, who have not only the right but the responsibility to protest such distortions.
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:23 am

Or, to put it another way, James - do you object to the unpaid internship as a means of 'gaining experience', given that the only people who are financially able to 'gain experience' in such a way are being supported by their families, who are inevitably of higher class than other applicants to the same position?

This strikes me as a similar problem.
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby DreamGoddessLindsey » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:02 am

WWD, I don't know why you decided to go the offensive route, but your radical right wing propaganda spewing is one of the reasons I walked away from this board. Shik and I have a poor history, but since I came into this with an open mind and without harsh words, we have managed to discuss this with respect due each other. I wish you'd done the same. As such, I will no longer be responding to your posts. I would ask that others not respond to this tangent.
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:55 am

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:WWD, I don't know why you decided to go the offensive route, but your radical right wing propaganda spewing is one of the reasons I walked away from this board.


Well, I'm indeed sorry to hear that. But:

a.) It wasn't my aim to be offensive to you personally. I wasn't accusing you, but sincerely hoping that you had a more nuanced view of socialism than others I've interacted with, both online and off, who are convinced of Engels' 'withering away of the state' would result as the end of a communist society.

If the shoe don't fit, you don't gotta put it on, you know!

b.) 'Radical right wing propaganda spewing'? My dear DGL, I do think we have misunderstood one another quite enough in the past, why on earth would you wilfully continue to do so now? I'm no right-winger; on this board I think there have been precisely three 'right-wingers' and none of them is that active anymore. Objectivist was some kind of extreme libertarian; Patricoo was also libertarian but not as extreme; and Tigger of Kai was some kind of militarist interventionist / neoconservative type.

Personally, I'm part of what has been for fifty years now called the 'Old Left': the people who stand up for the traditional blue-collar blokes and blokettes, even if their views and interests happen to be rather passe and not so fashionable amongst the urban elite high-liberal set.

c.) Though I say it myself, I thought my post was on-point. The taxi drivers aren't evil 'elf-n-safety bureaucrats trying to ruin other people's rides (literally). They're ordinary working-class people who are trying to defend their livelihoods by staging a protest - and socialists ought to sympathise with them and with their struggles, rather than dismiss them as 'immature'!
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:40 am

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:WWD, I don't know why you decided to go the offensive route, but your radical right wing propaganda spewing is one of the reasons I walked away from this board. Shik and I have a poor history, but since I came into this with an open mind and without harsh words, we have managed to discuss this with respect due each other. I wish you'd done the same. As such, I will no longer be responding to your posts. I would ask that others not respond to this tangent.


That is more WWD's naturally aggressive style for poking at/exploring a person's views rather then a deliberate attack though WWD's turn of phrase can come across as an attack if not your used to it.

WWD isn't right-wing, at least in in the sense I suspect you mean. He is no Fox News presenter. The old church going Anglican Tory would probably be the right-wing way of describing him, or some of his views, with Old Left suiting other parts of his views.

It would be a shame if you didn't respond to his posts but that is up to you.
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby DreamGoddessLindsey » Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:04 am

Dong Zhou wrote:That is more WWD's naturally aggressive style for poking at/exploring a person's views rather then a deliberate attack though WWD's turn of phrase can come across as an attack if not your used to it.

WWD isn't right-wing, at least in in the sense I suspect you mean. He is no Fox News presenter. The old church going Anglican Tory would probably be the right-wing way of describing him, or some of his views, with Old Left suiting other parts of his views.

It would be a shame if you didn't respond to his posts but that is up to you.


Well, my issues with being able to deal with such confrontation in the past has been rather poor, and my intent is basically not to subject myself to something that would upset me or cause me to snap. Basically, it was my condition to make this topic after leaving.

I don't know this Engles person, but since he said it in direct response to my quote about not liking a nanny state, I understood it was directed at me. The whole explanation he went into felt elitist and as though he were looking down on me. His accusation that UberX and Lyft were "faceless online corporate predators" showed an ignorance of the reality, in which they are just these fairly fledgling companies that have thought of a new, inventive, and efficient ideas and brought them to the market.

It is not the job of the government to stifle competition and innovation. Rather, the opposite. WWD's false assertions of socialism are difficult for someone like me to listen to. No one is saying there shouldn't be a regulation on the new services, but we have them being banned outright. In addition, as a socialist, there is one person more important than the worker: the consumer. I think we should give the end user what they want. People largely support UberX and Lyft. In fact, the only critics I can find outside of government are people in the cab business. The first full page of Goggle gives petition after petition trying to save UberX and Lyft.

Lastly, the fact that the government has banned fuel-efficient cars is an unforgivable sin that damages the consumer and the planet both. It's similar to how I feel about "rollin' coal".
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:03 pm

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:Well, my issues with being able to deal with such confrontation in the past has been rather poor, and my intent is basically not to subject myself to something that would upset me or cause me to snap. Basically, it was my condition to make this topic after leaving.


Which is understandable and good to see you trying to take control like that.

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:I don't know this Engles person, but since he said it in direct response to my quote about not liking a nanny state, I understood it was directed at me.


It was.

The whole explanation he went into felt elitist and as though he were looking down on me.


I can see where you got the looking down bit from and I have had that issue myself. It usually seems to be an issue of presentation rather then intent though so I would try to see it in that light if you can but it can be off putting.

I'll leave the rest of the post for WWD
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:55 pm

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:I don't know this Engles person, but since he said it in direct response to my quote about not liking a nanny state, I understood it was directed at me.


Friedrich Engels

And yes, part of my response was directed at you. I wanted to know where you stood on that issue.

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:The whole explanation he went into felt elitist and as though he were looking down on me. His accusation that UberX and Lyft were "faceless online corporate predators" showed an ignorance of the reality, in which they are just these fairly fledgling companies that have thought of a new, inventive, and efficient ideas and brought them to the market.


So, let me get this straight. I'm looking down on you when I assume you, a self-described socialist, know who Friedrich Engels is and try to tease out considerations of government and state from considerations of civil society, how they interact with each other, and who is representative of which interest... But you're not looking down on me when you dismiss me for being 'ignorant'?

Whether or not a company is 'fledgling' or not has nothing to do with whether or not their behaviour is predatory. Companies like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar et al are taking advantage of an infrastructure and of (social media) platforms they did not create, in order to provide an untested and legally unaccountable service in direct competition with established and well-regulated services which are run by and for local working-class people.

Just because something is new or 'inventive' doesn't make it better. Efficiency is usually only measured from a top-down perspective, and usually the people who get kicked to the roadside in 'creatively destructive' bourgeois attempts to make things more 'efficient' are the people least able to protect themselves.

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:It is not the job of the government to stifle competition and innovation. Rather, the opposite.


And saying so would make you a capitalist.

A socialist would say it's the job of the government to provide justice for the elderly, the weak and the powerless and to protect them from the ravages of the market; not to enable the powerful to devour and exploit them in the market in the name of 'competition' and 'innovation'.

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:In addition, as a socialist, there is one person more important than the worker: the consumer.


Precisely which strain of socialism is this? Consumerism and socialism are very emphatically not the same thing and never have been. Indeed, the strongest socialist critiques of capitalism going all the way back to Ruskin and Morris are focussed precisely on the authenticity of consumer wants and the reductive amorphism of cost-benefit analyses which don't properly define the two!

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:Lastly, the fact that the government has banned fuel-efficient cars is an unforgivable sin that damages the consumer and the planet both.


I would agree completely... if the DC government were actually trying to ban fuel-efficient cars (which they're not). They're only trying to restrict their use by companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. As I already said earlier, even as someone who sympathises with the taxi drivers, I don't think this is an appropriate or even a very useful move on their part.
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Re: UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby James » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:08 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:This may be a hard question, but it needn't be prohibitively so. GK Chesterton once said, 'art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere'.

After all, nobody had any problem with carpooling prior to this, and absolutely nobody sane is going to try and ban or regulate carpools (least of all taxi drivers), so that seems like a slippery-slope fallacy on your part. And clearly there is a difference-in-kind between driving a friend's friend to the airport (for free?) and offering a full-on paid private transportation service to the public.

Clearly there is a difference, but the context of my question is where that line might be drawn? The examples I gave represent various degrees of intervention, ranging into the more extreme. They are necessarily different from one another and the extremes are necessarily more unrealistic.

As to classifying my argument as a 'slippery slope' in the context of comparing car pooling to this service, I disagree at least to the extent of your concern being enough to draw that conclusion. If car pooling were to become so popular that it significantly impacted the viability of the cabbie's business and their livelihoods you can bet they would be upset about it, but for them to be upset on a public, organized level they must have a target. They cannot be publicly upset at the public for privately organizing in a way that impacts them negatively because the public is being responsible in this case and they will not be taken seriously. But add a third party business to the equation as an entity which helps with that interaction and now you've given the cabbies a target which can be attacked on a legal level. A third party which can be portrayed in a positive or negative light without being as directly offensive as one would be if they targeted the public directly. What is or is not a viable strategy for the cabbies (or indeed, any lobbying body when working against an opposing interest) can not necessarily translate to a means of measuring something not directly related. In my opinion, of course.

WeiWenDi wrote:Ultimately, my objections to organisations like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and the like are economic, and based on Tory-socialist economist Ruskin's objections to distorted and unfair pricing which comes from a cut-rate service (without conforming to the same standards of quality) competing in the same market as a service which does adhere to such standards. The people who are hurt by such distortions in the market are always going to be the urban proletariat, who have not only the right but the responsibility to protest such distortions.

And I would actually be aligned with you more in cases such as this. For example, I very much dislike the strength Walmart and Amazon have in their respective industries to use their buying power and influence to drive prices down to a point that it damages artists, other producing companies, and their competition by creating a price point which they cannot reasonably match. If a third party were to enter the cabbie industry—say, let's drop a fictional Google into the scenario, offering the service at a loss because 1) they don't need to profit to sustain their business, and 2) presumably they have found some business interest in profiting from riders' information and privacy—then I will be sympathetic to the cabbies.

But where we separate in interests here is in defining this as 'entering the same market'. I hesitate to describe the act of moving people from point a to point b as the cabbies market. This is a market shared by other forms of public transportation on one end of the spectrum and actions as simple as driving a friend from one place to another on the other end of the spectrum. The liabilities and level of personal choice as applied to a service like Lyft or to hiring a taxi are radically different from one to the other. I don't see them as the same thing and I view it as a mistake to regulate them as if they were. Obviously that's what the cabbies want because that's what serves their interest and preserves their business model.

WeiWenDi wrote:Or, to put it another way, James - do you object to the unpaid internship as a means of 'gaining experience', given that the only people who are financially able to 'gain experience' in such a way are being supported by their families, who are inevitably of higher class than other applicants to the same position?

This strikes me as a similar problem.

Well, I'm personally an advocate of 'f••• you, pay me'. I believe an unpaid internship is a means of exploiting people for a benefit. I'm sure there are exceptions—cases where that internship truly does provide someone with highly valuable knowledge and skill—but in almost any case I can envision a scenario where someone really should have been paid for their services instead. After all, typically the unpaid intern does have knowledge and skill to contribute. It's not quite like the apprenticeships of yesteryear where you learn the trade and gain the business.

I actually care less about it for the reason you outlined. There are countless elements of our society where those who are more financially prepared are able to benefit far more from a construct in our society. Heck, something as simple as student loans represents a tool which necessarily create greater obstacles for the would-be contributor to society over the child of wealthy parents who are willing to eliminate those barriers. While individual cases such as this may be improved (for example, I believe governments should be very proactive about supporting education, or at least shouldn't strive to profit from it, as a means of investing in a country's future), I also see them as an unavoidable element of a society that requires income to survive.

In sincerity, I'm not sure how my position here might tie in to the Lyft vs. cabbies issue, so I'll wait for you to elaborate there.

Shikanosuke wrote:I understand this viewpoint. And its certainly an intrusion. I guess I'm just not sure its an overreaching one. You're entirely right its a interaction between two residents of the city, I'm just not sure its a private transaction in the same way you would sell a bike on Craigslist. I think it's more akin to offering a service such as lawncare, mechanic, etc which inevitably may subject you to duties to the consumer.

I agree that it is not the same thing. But at the same time it should (in my opinion) be far more on the side of interaction between individual citizens than it should represent the organized business that is the taxi industry. And I readily admit that my position here is colored by an opposition to see the government involving themselves too extensively in this individual agreements between citizens. A contributing fear is that sometimes the government listens more to an organized body and unions than it does citizens because the former is better able to apply political pressure.

And it's not a case of a dangerous and professional trade. For example, I would have reservations about anybody being able to sell their services as an electrician. Or indeed, a lawyer. Or a doctor. A degree of expertise is required in these trades and the consequences of failing in this regard are significant. Such does not extend to a person's ability to drive someone from one location to another, and the choice of allowing someone to do that—and the consequences of changing your mind if it is apparent a mistake has been made—are not significant enough, in my position, to warrant extensive government involvement.

Shikanosuke wrote:That is an excellent question. I certainly don't have the answer either. I just suggest that if Lyft operators are not already on the 'regulated' business side of the line they're skirting so close to it they shouldn't be surprised when business owners and legislatures attempt to bring them in.

Well, they certainly shouldn't be surprised. And they shouldn't be surprised if some changes have to be made to the business model.

Shikanosuke wrote:That is certainly a reasonable argument. I guess it boils down to a matter of 'is this merely an incidental overlap?' or have they entered a market.

At the very least I think it is safe to say they're conflicting with a market, but from a whole new direction, in a whole new system. In the least the consequences, concerns, and effective means of government involvement are necessarily very different as the entities involved are so different on a structural level. Hence looking more at a potential disruption than a simple competitor in an already-defined market.

Shikanosuke wrote:I found Aereo's idea interesting, but I was a little skeptical when I heard of it how it wasn't borderline theft.

It was clearly a subject which required intervention from higher courts. But I'm not sure how it could be classified as borderline theft. Their business model was simply to allow customers to have access to an HD antenna located somewhere else rather than at their homes. Whatever line is drawn in the sand between those two positions, I'm not sure how it can be defined as one between legitimate use and borderline theft. Especially once one considers public and government ownership in services used in the process and previous government agreements with the offended entities as they continually merged into larger and larger entities, becoming more monopolistic along the way.

WeiWenDi wrote:
DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:It is not the job of the government to stifle competition and innovation. Rather, the opposite.

And saying so would make you a capitalist.

A socialist would say it's the job of the government to provide justice for the elderly, the weak and the powerless and to protect them from the ravages of the market; not to enable the powerful to devour and exploit them in the market in the name of 'competition' and 'innovation'.

Supporting certain things may well be contrary to one particular aspect of a label—especially a self-described label—but at the same time I should hope people are capable of being largely aligned with a given purpose or principle while at the same time being able to deviate in regards (there's no perfect social or economic principle, especially if it is expected to translate across borders and peoples). And believing that government should not stifle competition and innovation absolutely does not make one a capitalist—heck, plenty of capitalists around here love to use the government to stifle their competition. A more capitalistic view would be for the government to simply keep out of their business in this regard.
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UberX and Lyft protests

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:30 pm

James wrote:
And it's not a case of a dangerous and professional trade. For example, I would have reservations about anybody being able to sell their services as an electrician. Or indeed, a lawyer. Or a doctor. A degree of expertise is required in these trades and the consequences of failing in this regard are significant. Such does not extend to a person's ability to drive someone from one location to another, and the choice of allowing someone to do that—and the consequences of changing your mind if it is apparent a mistake has been made—are not significant enough, in my position, to warrant extensive government


I'm on the go, and you and WWD have a more substantive conversation going on, but I just wanted to touch on this. I agree with you somewhat, but I don't think we can or should cast the cab industry as entirely non dangerous trade. By that I mean yes everyone with a drivers license can drive and can theoretically make it from point a to be safely. But public safety reaches this issue.

But we know they're driving much more extensively. We also know their trade impacts not only themselves but other cabbies, pedestrians, and passengers. One thing I forgot to mention earlier when I was listing cabby regulations is most of them require you to have background checks.
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