March of the Über-mensch

As we’ve discussed at length, Uber claims not to provide employment at all (apart from a few office jobs), so that would be a difficult selling point.

As for saving the planet, I assume you mean more efficient use of cars hence lower emissions. That’s a really, really long shot. (I’ll let someone else do the math.) If you want to push it to the point of no-one should be allowed to own a car that isn’t constantly in use, because efficiency, then you should understand why people will think you’re really a Communist. :smile:

What makes Uber “loosely-formed” and “borderless”? They want to be perceived that way because it suits their marketing strategy and their get-sympathy-for-legal-troubles strategy, but at the end of the day if you deal with them you’re dealing with one or more specific business entities in their gigantic web, and if you’ve signed a contract with them you have in most cases agreed to be bound by arbitration in a specific jurisdiction that they chose.

Corporations taking over countries, yes, I get what you’re saying. You seem to see Uberization as a solution to the disorganized nature of the world, but where is the evidence that it results in better organization of society in general?

Well, define leave. Did google ever leave China? :cactus:

I would love to see a grand rethink of tax residence etc. I don’t trust a business web like Uber to lead the discussion.

As for empowerment of the individual, there’s a very large number of individuals who feel dis-empowered by Uber, and the number is growing.

[mod note: the next few posts were added from another thread]

I wasn’t arguing about economic theory in general. I was musing on exactly why Uber are so keen to establish a presence in Taiwan when the government seems dead-set on fining them into oblivion, and/or destroying all their potential routes to profit.

I’m not particularly interested, myself, in pursuing yyy’s train of thought over whether a business really does need to make money. I would have thought it’s fairly obvious, so I don’t want to go off on a hair-splitting tangent.

So … you don’t think Uber’s business model has something to do with their perceived legality (or otherwise) in Taiwan? You don’t think the government’s antipathy towards Uber is as interesting a topic as Uber’s antipathy to the government, or that one has nothing to do with the other? You don’t think the clash of modernity vs. technologically-illiterate, vested-interest politicians is a relevant side issue? You don’t think this whole Mexican standoff tells us something useful about Taiwan’s politics in general?

You sure about that? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Making money and making a profit are not the same thing. As I said, you can get paid while losing your company’s money and decide that you’re doing something worthwhile, if that’s your thing. Also, you can want to make a profit for the company eventually but still be satisfied with the possibility that it will never happen, because you know you’re going to get paid either way.

If you share the profit but not the loss, it’s win-win… for you. :rainbow:

I meant I didn’t want to go off on a discussion about what the meaning of “is” is.

A corporate entity must make a profit, then. Otherwise, it can’t pay those putative executives collecting a salary for doing nothing.

Anyway, I’ve just started another thread for this sort of thing :slight_smile:

If the executives get paid only in profits, then yes. If they get paid in salary + profits, they can do whatever they want for as long as the company survives.

Governments spend decades trying to regulate the taxi market, with the help of taxi company owners of course. Suddenly somebody comes up with a convenient, popular work-around. It’s like the reaction to cryptocurrency–they’re not sure whether to ban it or embrace it.

I think there’s a bit more to it than that. Notice, for example, that Paypal is also excluded from Taiwan (it’s one of the few countries outside of the turd world where it can’t operate). Something similar going on with Skype, I think. Taipower (and their suppliers, eg., Tatung) are stuck in the 1950s. The Taiwan government is dead-set on preserving certain antiquated monopolies and very afraid of disruptive internet-based technologies. They would have banned Uber even if they’d come here cap-in-hand. My question is: do they have good reason to be afraid?

I’m using the word “employment” in the sense of “people making some economic contribution”, not in the sense of having an employment contract. In countries where there’s less antipathy to ride-sharing, Uber and companies like Uber are giving unemployed people (or under-employed people) a chance to generate some income.

A lot of people buy cars because they think they need one (new families especially). If they can use Uber instead of buying a car, that’s an efficiency improvement. Remember a car represents embodied energy and its manufacture is inherently polluting. Emissions from the vehicle itself are only part of the story.

The same thing that makes me loosely-formed and borderless (and you, I suspect). Easy international travel, fungibility of skills, open currency markets, free trade, and the Internet. Uber operates everywhere (I assume they intended that from the get-go, given the name). Most companies now trade internationally, even little one-man-bands. Most companies don’t even have a head office as such, just a nameplate in some convenient location. Tech companies in particular are fragmenting into little bands of people who can do ad-hoc work.

Governments still haven’t figured out how to deal with this. In many countries, the solution is to punish people who don’t want to be formally employed. In Germany and the Netherlands, for example, the laws are very restrictive. The UK taxes the crap out of individuals who don’t want to work in a blue cubicle.

True, but that’s a rather unavoidable feature of The Law in general. Of course, nobody is forced to sign any contract; in fact I’m sure you’re aware that a contract signed under duress is unenforceable in most jurisdictions.

I’m saying it could go either way. If governments insist on seeing it as a battleground, they’ll lose. It’ll all turn to shit for everybody. Corporations might well end up forming private armies to deal with recalcitrant governments. That would be a lot easier today than it was for the East India Company.

If laws are arranged such that companies like Uber can do good, then they will do so. You seem to think corporations are run by cackling nutcases stroking white cats behind control panels, but the reality is they’re just in the game to make money. That’s all. If they can do that, they’re happy. And it is completely possible to make money while achieving socially-positive ends.

Why not?

Well, they’d should go and look for empowerment elsewhere, then.

There’s a very strong parallel there. They have an inkling that their power is being undermined, but they aren’t quite sure in what way, or what to do about it. Their instinct is simply to ban it, but that just doesn’t work … as they found out with cryptocurrencies.


Earlier you were speaking of cars as if people shouldn’t have the right to use them less than x% of the time. Is that still on, or do you just want it to be optional?

Anyway, many people think they need cars because, essentially, they do. Crappy urban planning is too entrenched in most population centers. If you take the bus, not only is it inconvenient and unreliable, but it’s a sign of moral failure. :no_no: They’re like zombiephones. If you don’t have one, people freak out and say but how can I contact you?! as if they’d been born yesterday.

We don’t need to need these things, i.e. society could be better planned in terms of transportation and communication and so on, but Uber is not an antidote for the phenomena of bad urban planning and you-can’t-do-X-without-a-phone; it’s part of them.

(Yes, I know you don’t have a zombiephone. Congrats. And I don’t have a car, but I’d be screwed without my saucer. :flying_saucer:)

What you mean, then, by borderless is not really borderlessness but transnationalism. Those borders are still there to protect them. There’s a warrant for Travis’s arrest in South Korea? No problem, he can just stay out of South Korea! :rainbow:

It’s the same thing with people. Be as nomadic as you like, but in most cases you still have at least one passport, and that passport matters. Being a cosmopolitan “world citizen” is not the same as being stateless.

I’m skeptical when I hear you complaining about the UK (not because I wouldn’t also complain, but because you tend to make it sound like the 9th circle of Hell when I would call it just a hot day without AC). Is whatever tax discrepancy there is really a reaction to modern technology, or just the way things developed before the digital transformation took off, with some slight tweaks since then? And what makes German or Dutch law particularly restrictive in terms of self employment?

We’ve been over this before. Inequality of bargaining power is a recognized phenomenon. If you want to refuse to believe in it, go ahead and refuse. It won’t change reality for anyone else.

Compulsory arbitration clauses can and do get voided – another feature of The Law, as you would say – because they remove basic rights and make for bad public policy.

Repent! The end is nigh, for we have sinned against the almighty Uber! :runaway:

Again, where is the evidence that Uber makes a society healthier overall?

  • De facto lower the minimum wage in an era of rising inequality.

  • Cripple the competition in the traditional “anyone can get a job doing this” industry by breaking the law and being proud of it.

  • Complain that governments are repressing you, with a megaphone so loud it would make Mad Masala blush.

No, I don’t call that a recipe for the betterment and stabilization of society.

Customers tend to like Uber because it’s cheap and supposedly better delivers better service. People trying to make a living tend not to like it, because it’s crap. Customers would still get by without Uber. People struggling to put food on the table would in many (most?) cases be better off doing something else, like… driving a taxi, if the taxi industry weren’t being eaten by a rabid parasitoid.


You see no contradiction between painting executives as altruists and acknowledging that they’re in the business of making money?

Go back and read about Travis. Maybe he’s not a cat person, but his own board found him enough of a cackling nutcase that they sent him to the backroom where he could cackle in private without giving the game away.

Oh, absolutely. But unless you see objectivism as socially positive, you can’t just rely on a bunch of objectivists to do something because it’s possible. You need to arrange things so that they perceive certain behavioral patterns as being in their best interest. Like, say, keep fining them until they decide breaking the law isn’t worth the hassle – money talks! :money_mouth_face:

Or better yet, change the culture so that people don’t perceive objectivists as worthy of emulation. But that’s a much bigger challenge.

Well for starters, Mr. Bigglesworth keeps liking them on social media… :heart_eyes_cat:

I don’t see how those statements are contradictory.

There are two groups of people here:

  • One group who like what Uber does and are seizing the opportunity to earn some cash on the side.
  • another group who, I suspect, have spent their entire lives being victims and see Uber as another opportunity to be victimized. Or who have a massive sense of entitlement and don’t want to do what it takes to earn more than an Uber driver.

There is no overlap between these groups. I can do you a Venn diagram if you want.

No - I was suggesting that if people want to own private transport, then they should face the full costs (that is, the costs associated with road-building, pollution, etc); and furthermore, that governments should not create perverse economic incentives by sabotaging more economically-efficient alternatives. At the moment, they really do force people into car-buying because it generates vast amounts of tax revenue … at the expense of society and the environment.

Yes. I know. My point was that Uber gives people a third option between 1) owning a car and 2) taking the bus. You seem to be suggesting that ride-sharing is evil in its essence, and if you don’t want to do (2) then you must do (1).

I never suggested it was. There are no magic pills. But it’s either a net positive or a net negative, surely? So in your view, which is it?

I actually disagree that the problem is bad urban planning. Planning is often very good. The problem is that urban centres are planned around cars, which is like trying to design a bridge made out of kangaroo testicles.

Quite so. But humanity has a natural propensity to push the boundaries. When governments push back too hard, preventing people from doing things which are both personally and socially beneficial, people get resentful. Uber, I suspect, is continuing with this little war of attrition just to embarrass and annoy the Taiwan government, simply because they can afford to do so. And frankly they deserve it.

A hot day without AC is tolerable for a day or two. Not so much for a whole lifetime. :slight_smile:

It was a reaction to people realising that the cage door is unlocked. It happened pre-Internet, around 1980. People started going self-employed en masse, because it had considerable advantages. The government spent the next 30 years buggering about with the law to make self-employment (a) unprofitable and (b) horribly complicated. It had the desired effect: more people in blue cubicles. The ones who are still self-employed are either demanding very high hourly rates (to cover their overheads), or they’ve dropped into the grey economy. A classic lose-lose-lose scenario for all involved (contractors, employers, and government).

For all practical purposes, it’s just not allowed. It’s easy for anyone to incorporate … but less easy to trade as a one-man BV. These rules are designed to make it difficult or impossible to claim that you’re a free agent:

It’s a sad step back for a country that pioneered democracy, capitalism, and free trade.

Where is the evidence that it doesn’t? The underpinning of most modern legal systems is “that which is not forbidden is permitted”. In order to declare Uber-like businesses socially damaging, the government should have an exceedingly good reason. All I’ve heard so far is “ohhh, won’t someone think of the taxi-drivers”?

  • De facto lower the minimum wage in an era of rising inequality.

I’m just baffled by your view of Uber drivers as people incapable of getting a job as anything other than Uber drivers, and therefore trapped in their situation. What, precisely, do you think prevents them from walking away from “lower than minimum wage” remuneration?

I also don’t hear you protesting about similar scenarios for eg., junior doctors, who in most countries do punishing hours for a fairly modest salary.

  • Cripple the competition in the traditional “anyone can get a job doing this” industry by breaking the law and being proud of it.

Bad laws should be broken. That’s the way bad laws get changed. I know you don’t agree with this - it’s just my personal opinion. Having said that, I’m not sure what laws Uber has actually broken. I’m aware that it’s been accused of law-breaking via some very creative manipulation of legal definitions. I’m also aware that the government has been tripping over itself to invent ad-hoc laws that have no other purpose except to punish Uber. But we could probably circle around that one forever.

Crippling the competition is not, in and of itself, a crime. Do you think it should be made so?

And this is somehow a bad thing? Are you suggesting the government would be appeased if they delivered crap service at high prices? Perhaps this is the litmus test for deciding if someone is operating as a taxi?

“Aha! You all have terrible BO and drive like nutcases! That proves you’re taxi-drivers!”

Isn’t that what I just said?

The question remains: why are they still driving for Uber instead of doing something else?

Of course I don’t. This sounds an awful lot like the “blessed are the poor” nonsense that I hear all the time in the Philippines. Are you suggesting, for example, that lawyers are bad people because they charge $500 an hour? Are you suggesting that Bill Gates is a bad person because he profited enormously from the act of writing some shrewdly-targeted software at the right place and the right time?

Anyway, I didn’t say they’re altruists. It’s just that most people don’t enjoy harming others. Psychopaths are over-represented in corporate boardrooms, but the average corporation wasn’t set up to cause mayhem. When someone start a company, it’s because they figure there’s a place in the world for a new product. That’s all.

Does it not occur to you that the corporation “Uber” - which is a legal fiction - doesn’t actually have any money, and that those fines are ultimately paid from the earnings of hard-working Uber drivers?

What you’re suggesting here is the same “solution” implemented in the Western Europe: punish the monkeys climbing out of the cage until they settle back in their appointed place, gazing sullenly at the open door.

Uber isn’t even that strong in Asia.

They sold out their market to Didi in some countries.
Effectively they want to create monopolies in geographical regions…Winner takes all if possible.

When it corporation versus the government .
Think the Knights Templar for where they end up if they challenge the authorities without a strong foundation .

Sorry, overworked. Give me a few days to get back to you. :flying_saucer:

Anyone who fails to make a living in this new, improved version of the anyone-can-make-a-living-doing-it industry must be morally beyond redemption. :angel: :balance_scale: :imp:

Now show us the evidence for your theory. No, not your personal life experience hanging out with lazy people in England who happened to be poor (unlike all those lazy people who happen to be rich). Actual studies of people working in the taxi industry, before and after Uber.

Yeah, I don’t like sabotage of more economically efficient alternatives to cars either, like when a badly needed expansion of public transit is finally ready after decades of debate, planning, and EA’s, and then a newly elected government rips up all those plans and says we’re going to do something someone drew on the back of a napkin, even if it means tunnel boring under buildings because there are no roads where the new subway routes are supposed to go.

This happened recently in a major population center in Canada, but it’s by no means an isolated incident. Sometimes this phenomenon even comes with a big fat lawsuit for breach of contract – not economically efficient at all (except for the lawyers).

Oh, but encouraging people to drive more – if only we could do that! :rainbow:

Anyway, “face the full costs” is a great idea but can’t be computed. It’s beyond human capability. Governments can drop support for certain industries and behaviors, whether that support is in the form of tax credits, outright subsidies, or more subtle actions. They can also add support for buses, trains/trams, bicycles, and even walking. There isn’t much money to be made or political sex appeal to be found in the promotion of walking, but the less necessary cars are, the less they will be bought or rented.

I have nothing against ride sharing, except to the extent that a shared car is less efficient than a shared bus or train (or bike lane or sidewalk). Ride sharing existed long before Uber, and it will still exist if Uber goes bust. Someone can create a new, non-parasitoid style app to promote it. Someone probably already has.

I think that’s become clear by now! :smile:

Also known as bad planning.

Also also known as good planning in the 1950’s, which turned out to be… bad planning. :doh:

I have many criticisms of the government here, but they owe nothing to this gang of obnoxious American frat boys. (I suspect their new CEO is little more than lipstick on a pig.)

Is there a convenient summary of this historical theory available somewhere?


So, you’re back to arguing that the concept of employment should be abolished because it’s the essence of socialist tyranny. We’ve been there and done that.

Show me the supposed masses of Dutch and German contractors who can’t find work now because the governments want them not to sham contract anymore.

Are you equally baffled when their landlords evict them, or their banks seize their houses? What prevents the landlords and banks from getting their money somewhere else? :cactus:

Sheesh, who has time to say everything there is to say about everything? Anyway, I doubt they’re earning less than minimum wage.

In Taiwan? Read the court judgements. Let me know if you need help finding them.

I already quoted extensively from the London case in the other thread. As for all the other countries, the fastest way to get information is probably to check Wikiland.

Using illegal methods to do it is a crime. If you manage to do it legally, it may still be democratically determined not to be in society’s best interest and therefore legislated against. Competition (antitrust, anti-monopoly etc.) laws are part of the paradox of economic freedom, as I’ve tried to explain before.

If the police are so corrupt/incompetent/racist that you turn to gangsters for law and order, the law and order part per se is not the problem, but the fact that the gangsters perform a useful service doesn’t mean they’re not a problem.

Not all the people shopping at [insert name of gigantic grocery chain] actually like the business model, but sometimes hunting and foraging just isn’t feasible. We all need to eat.

What does Christianity have to do with it?

Of course being rich doesn’t preclude being an altruist. It doesn’t preclude not being one either.

You need to consider whether or not there’s a conflict of interest. Show a $500/h lawyer representing Uber what you think is a win-win scenario that doesn’t let the lawyer get many billable hours, and that lawyer will… most likely keep working for Uber.

Uber is not the average corporation, and that’s the point! “Move fast and break things” is facebook’s motto iirc, but it could just as well be Uber’s.


Back to corporations don’t exist, I see. Now you’re even telling us the money is shared by one gigantic Uberfamilie. A driver can just go to the bank and say, “yes, I’d like to make a withdrawal from Mr. Kalanick’s account.” :rainbow:

Embrace Uber, and ye shall be set free! :unicorn:

Nope, not buying it.

I think your answer is far too brief @yyy :smirk: Are you against Uber ? :joy:

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@discobot quote

:left_speech_bubble: Do one thing every day that scares you. — Eleanor Roosevelt

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Well, I’ve already tried taking an Uber (someone else was paying), so I can cross that off my list.

No, taxi mafias are trying to hold onto their money grifting operations, and they can martial a large voter count. The government simply bends to anyone who can vote them out of office.

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