The bipartisan anger against Uber

It looks like we have finally come full horseshoe, from a comment posted on Vox Day’s blog:

More like Marx Day.

Uber is not exploiting anyone, as I discus in 2017 regarding similar complaints by Mr. Money Mustache about Uber, the fast-growing taxi alternative which has become a lightning rod for controversy and class warfare by both the left and the right. Uber has become an embodiment and scapegoat for everything wrong with capitalism, America, Silicon Valley, corporations, etc.

Technically, Uber drivers are independent contractors. They don’t work for Uber. This is an important distinction that is often lost in the bipartisan anger. Part of the reason why Uber is so convenient is because almost anyone who has a suitable vehicle can participate and make money, whereas traditional jobs are more scarce and supply is limited by the employer. Traditional taxi services have much higher barriers to entry than Uber.

Second, if drivers feel exploited, and given all the anger by pundits they surely must, they always have the option of finding another way to make money or choosing a competitor such as Lyft.

It’s funny how there are two concurrent narratives (this example is in regard Amazon but works for Uber too):

…the media portrays Amazon as this awful company that stiffs its employees and is destroying jobs and making the world a terrible place in the name of lower price and convenience.

…and yet Amazon is hugely popular with consumers, and Amazon is the second-biggest employer in the US, and there is huge demand for Amazon jobs in spite of the media’s insistence of how bad Amazon is and how bad such jobs are.

All these people looking to work at Amazon apparently didn’t get the media’s memo. Same for Uber. The media is pushing this narrative of how awful Uber is, and yet tons of people evidently still want to drive for Uber. Consumers love Uber because it is convenient. Drivers like it because, unlike most traditional work, there isn’t tons of screening, interviews, personality tests, drug tests, rules, and other hindrances. Same for Walmart. The media constantly whines about how bad Walmart is, yet Walmart is inundated with job applicants.

A counterargument is that many Uber drivers don’t have a choice but to drive for Uber, in order to supplement their already meager incomes. I agree. In spite of the low unemployment rate and Trump constantly touting ‘low Black and Hispanic unemployment,’ there are many able-bodied people who are not working but want to, and Uber is the only choice. These are people with average or below-average IQs who don’t have college degrees, and are probably middle-aged and cannot just simply learn a new trade or go back to school. For example, in 2013 during a Washington D.C. Walmart opening, 23,000 people applied for only 600 job openings. So even in spite of low unemployment, the supply of labor vastly exceeds demand for low-skilled work. But the solution is not to punish Uber but rather to make it easier for unskilled people to find work, or at least be grateful that Uber exists or otherwise these people would not be working at all or would have less money. If more companies were hiring, then low-skilled workers would have more choices and not have to resort to independent contracting. But that has to do with macro factors beyond the scope of this article.