Belmont Club

If You're Leaving San Francisco

If you’re leaving San Francisco.
Take extra care
Not to use rideshare.
If you’re leaving San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some union people there.

“MILLBRAE (CBS SF) — In the past month, San Francisco International Airport officials have been citing and arresting drivers from mobile-app enabled rideshare companies that pick up and drop off passengers, an airport spokesman said. Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said there have been seven citizen arrests issued to ‘various offenders’ since July 10. The airport had issued cease and desist letters to several rideshare companies, including Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, in April.”

These are not professional drivers who are being arrested. These are drivers participating in a mobile app arrangement typified by Sidecar. How it works:

1. Download the app.
2. Indicate where you want to go. “A request will go out to drivers nearby.”
3. The app matches you with a driver.
4. “You’ll see a photo of your driver and their car as they head towards you.” A tracking map will appear.
5. “Arrive at your drop off point and pay what you think is fair.”
6. Get arrested by the union.

“The taxi group, comprised of members from the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association and the United Taxicab Workers of San Francisco, are demanding that city officials and regulatory agencies consider rideshare companies as illegal taxi services.”

Car pooling was part of what used to be called the “share economy”. Salon says capitalism is corrupting an otherwise noble idea. Them capitalists just don’t give up. They insist on bringing filthy lucre into things. (See previous post on excessively cheap hamburgers as a threat to fairness.)

There are aspects of the sharing economy that are cool and exciting. But the speakers devoted nearly all of their prepared statements to the benefits the sharing economy delivered to the consumers and producers linked together by these services, and very little attention to the services themselves — the venture-capital-funded platforms that are looking to reap significant financial rewards from all this “sharing.” (A more accurate description, suggested by former Wired technology writer Ryan Singel, might be “subletting.” Money, after all, does exchange hands when you share your car or guest bedroom. But the “subletting economy” doesn’t sound anywhere near as sexy.)

But it sure as hell pays the bills.   The information revolution has made a lot of things cheaper, which is not always good. Many people now have to demand less for services they used to charge more for because  advances in connectivity have made these a commodity.  This can only be offset if it applies throughout, so that people who earn less can also live for less because the new economy lets them do things for a fraction of their former cost.

But the idea of leaving money out of transactions is unconsciously predicated on the idea that the sharers have “jobs” which provide dinero. Hence the “sharing” can take place in a civic and non-economic context. However when people no longer have jobs in the old sense, they must find a way to put their ordinary activity to remunerative use. In the part-time economy you are always looking for a gig or alternatively, to save a buck. There is no clear delineation between being ‘at work’ and ‘off’.

The people at Salon probably know better than most how tough it is to make a living today as a writer. But then they don’t have a union and monopoly control over certain services. The taxi drivers do.

Maybe that’s how the Obama economy will finish up. Some people will get paid at outsourced rates.  Others will get monopoly rents. President Obama’s new “grand bargain” tax proposal has been denounced as doing exactly that. The Washington Post writes: “A number of small business groups quickly criticized a new “grand bargain” proposal outlined by President Obama on Tuesday, which would authorize new economic stimulus spending in exchange for lower tax rates for corporations.”

Danner said that the vast majority of all small businesses are structured as pass-through entities, so their owners pay taxes at the individual rates. Consequently, those firms would not stand to gain from the president’s concession to lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 28 percent.

Instead, by lowering the corporate rate and leaving the individual rate untouched, it would put small firms at an even greater disadvantage to large corporations, Danner said.

Paul Ryan says its all part of the last stand of crony capitalism, sometimes known as socialism. “He wants to funnel money to his green-energy cronies. But he refuses to let us develop our energy resources and create good-paying jobs. He wants to give big banks a backstop — and a leg up on community banks.” This is the biggest challenge of the Blue Model today. How can one keep the monopoly rents in the face of decentralizing trends?

All across the nation,
such a strange vibration
There’s a whole generation
with a new explanation
People in motion, people in motion!
For those who leave San Francisco.
Be sure to know bail bondsmen living there.
In the streets of San Francisco.
You’re going to meet some union people there.

Who knows how it will finish up. One thing’s for sure. The times, they are a-changin’.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

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