TL/DR: Finley is wrong about Uber, almost right about cars.
Why is there not more information available about the tax problem? For one thing, privacy does exist in Taiwan.
For another thing, there is no evidence that Uber thinks the closure of this particular tax loophole, whatever it is/was, is improper. If you think back a few articles, Uber said it was willing to pay the 5% e-commerce tax.
The reason Uber gave for suspending operations in Taiwan is the Highway Act and the fines that go with it, not the tax issue. If it were an illegal money grab, or even a legal but nasty one, why wouldn't Uber make a fuss about it?
Who knows? If they haven't, the tax people have been sitting on their hands for an awful long time.
For all we know, maybe they did they caught year after year but paid the fine quietly without challenging it, and no-one saw fit to leak this vague rumor to the media until recently. For all we know, they may have very clever accountants. The point is that we don't know about the tax part that Uber claims it doesn't even care about, but we do know about the Highway Act part.
"If your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?"
Countries which think they're civilised are often the most hidebound. Taiwan surprised me here because the culture is fairly pragmatic: if something works, they do it.
Ah, so asking people to follow the law is pure stubbornness, and not welcoming Uber is suicide. Got it.
Where on earth did this insistence on employment come from? [....] Contracting makes more sense. He has more control over both his work and his finances.
You don't have control over anything if you can't make ends meet. It's not rocket science. It's been understood for centuries.
For another angle, you can read my rant here:
The ILO puts it more eloquently here:
From the executive summary:
At the heart of the matter is the fact that the traditional paradigms [...] are less often the norm. A growing grey area between dependent work and self-employment has made it increasingly difficult to establish whether or not an employment relationship exists, as in many situations the respective rights and obligations of the parties concerned are not clear. In certain other situations, attempts are made to disguise the employment relationship or to exploit the inadequacies and gaps that exist in the legal framework or in its interpretation or application. All too often, it is vulnerable workers who suffer most in such situations. [....] in order to avoid a borderless expansion of the scope of employment, the labour courts initially adopted a rigorous and narrow approach. [...] This approach, however, risked excluding from the scope of the employment relationship and relevant legal protection a wide range of work activities that in fact deserved such protection. [....] And in countries with no "median" legal category between employment and self-employment, there is no protection -- or at least no significant legal protection -- for the self-employed, who are not covered by any legal structure. [...] the legal framework governing the employment relationship is crucial to managing these changes.
Or, from another point of view, we should just let the right to work under reasonable conditions fall apart because the super-rich have our best interests at heart, or they at least can't quite manage to avoid creating an infinte supply of adequate new (non-job) jobs as a side effect of their awesomeness.
Or, from still another point of view, we just need a universal basic income and then there will be no such thing as a vulnerable worker, so there will be no-one willing to work for crap conditions in support of the businesses of the super-rich and therefore the world will end.
Imagine someone who only wants to work at weekends; if he's employed, then he becomes a part-time employee,which in most of the world doesn't attract much in the way of perks anyway.
That may be true in some jurisdictions. In any jurisdiction that respects ILO opinions, the principle is very simple: part-time work is the same as full-time work, proportionally. You still get holiday pay, sick leave, etc. The difference, in your weekend example, is that sickness and holidays are irrelevant if they occur on weekdays. (The details vary, but the principle of proportionality remains.)
Some bans are court or government decisions specifically against Uber.)
This is the bit I find most interesting. Creating legislation to target one specific business operation is almost unprecedented in modern history. Anyone would think they were selling harvested baby organs or automatic weapons or something, so pinpoint-sharp is the focus of government attention upon them.
"Court or government decisions" means the relevant authority has looked at existing law to determine whether or not Uber complies.
Some jurisdictions have updated laws/regulations to include new technology, either favoring Uber-type businesses (mostly in North America and Australia, it seems) or not favoring them. Without this kind of update, it's up to the relevant authority to decide. You can read the London example here:
It notes that Uber "resort[s] in its documentation to fictions, twisted language, and even brand new terminology, [which] merits, we think, a degree of scepticism." It even says Uber "doth protest too much" about not being an employer. It notes the cognitive dissonance between what Uber says to its drivers privately and what it says to the public. It cites a California precedent that
resoundingly rejected the Company's [Uber Technologies Inc., not the British and Dutch companies involved in the London case] assertion that it was a technology company and not in the business of providing transportation services.
Uber does not simply sell software; it sells rides. Uber is no more a "technology company" than Yellow Cab is a "technology company" because it uses CB radios to dispatch taxi cabs.
We respectfully agree.
The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses is to our minds faintly ridiculous. In each case, the 'business' consists of a man with a car seeking to make a living by driving it. [The lawyer] spoke of Uber assisting the drivers to "grow" their businesses, but no driver is in a position to do anything of the kind, unless growing his business simply means spending more hours at the wheel. [...] drivers do not and cannot negotiate with passengers (except to agree to a reduction of the fare set by Uber). [....]
Uber's case is that the driver enters into a binding agreement with a person whose identity he does not know (and will never know) and who does not know and will never know his identity, to undertake a journey to a destination not known to him until the journey begins, by a route prescribed by a stranger to a contract (UBV) [that's the Dutch company] from which he is not free to depart (at least not without risk), for a fee which (a) is set by the stranger, and (b) is not known by the passenger ... is calculated by the stranger [...] and (d) is paid to the stranger. [....]
And then, in summary:
We base our assessment [...] in particular on the following considerations.
(1) The contradiction [between Uber purporting] to be the drivers' agent and [asserting] "sole and absolute discretion" to accept or decline bookings.
(2) The fact that Uber interviews and recruits drivers.
(3) The fact that Uber controls the key information [...] and excludes the driver from it.
(4) The fact that Uber requires drivers to accept trips and/or not to cancel trips, and enforces the requirement [...]
(5) The fact that Uber sets the (default) route and the driver departs from it at his peril.
(6) The fact that UBV [the Dutch co.] fixes the fare [...]
(7) The fact that Uber imposes numerous conditions on drivers [...] instructs drivers as to how to do their work, and, in numerous ways, controls them in the performance of their duties.
(8) The fact that Uber subjects drivers to [...] a performance management/disciplinary procedure.
(9) The fact that Uber determines issues about rebates, sometimes without even involving the driver whose remuneration is liable to be affected.
(10) The guaranteed earnings schemes (albeit now discontinued).
(11) The fact that Uber accepts the risk of loss which, if the drivers were genuinely in business on their own account, would fall upon them.
(12) The fact that Uber handles complaints by passengers [...]
(13) The fact that Uber reserves the power to amend the drivers' terms unilaterally.
the agreement between the parties is to be located in the field of dependent work relationships; it is not a contract at arm's length between two independent business undertakings. [....] As is often the case, the problem stems at least in part from the unequal bargaining positions of the contracting parties [....]
And very importantly:
none of our reasoning should be taken as doubting that [Uber] could have devised a business model not involving them employing drivers. We find only that the model which they chose fails to achieve that aim.
Some blunter comments were reported when the decision was announced.
As the ruling observes, the company and its highly-paid boosters do their best to cloak this relationship in the language of chummy marketing and hi-tech piety. They use the term “gig economy”, when what they mean is casualised labour. They claim to be “disrupters”, when what they’re really disrupting are our labour laws. And Uber still markets itself like a plucky underdog when it is now worth $62.5bn – more than Tesco and Barclays put together – and numbers among its public affairs and public relations people the former advisers to Ed Balls and Michael Howard. Pretending to be the future, it is really the past: a cab company that relies on its drivers being cheap and available. Except your local cab firm doesn’t have the lobbying muscle or the Westminster contacts.
"If you drive so much because you earn so little, if its bad for your health. I know people who drive 12 or 15 hours a day to make the money and don't even make minimum wage, so this could make all the difference to them.
It must be pointed out that both Uber London Ltd and Uber Britannia Ltd have Private Hire Vehicle Operator's Licences, unlike "Yubo" in Taiwan. (Both of the UK companies, together with Uber BV, were joint respondents in the case.) Yubo is only registered for
- management consulting
- information processing service
- electronic information supply service
- third party payment service
- other industrial/commercial service
- anything else that does not require permission (obviously not including transportation)
I proposed a hypothesis elsewhere that cars are 'alive', in the same sense that viruses are alive (ie., not very, but with a built-in need to survive, reproduce, and parasitize other organisms). The complete irrationality of Uber's persecution, IMO, is evidence of this: services like Uber will reduce the need for privately-owned cars, interfering with the reproductive strategy of the car population. Cars must motivate their human hosts to reject this threat to their survival.
You are not alone.