Tag: taxi

Self-driving cars are a threat to the American way of life

President Obama recently pinnedĀ an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praising self-driving cars as “an emerging reality with the potential to transform the way we live”.

Personally, I believe that self-driving cars are a grave threat to the American way of life.

Thousands of Americans are employed as taxi drivers, pizza deliverers, and in other similar professions. If self-driving cars were to become the norm, you can kiss thousands of American jobs, many of which are among the few American jobs nowadays that do not require a college degree, goodbye. Their jobs would be effectively replaced by computers manufactured in China or other foreign countries.

Also, who would want to watch a NASCAR race in which actual race car drivers are replaced by computer-driven cars? NASCAR would no longer be an actual sport if computers replaced drivers; instead, it would become effectively as scripted as WWE, but without the soap opera-esque storylines to keep the audience engaged. There’s a lot more entertainment watching real race car drivers compete against each other than computers competing against each other.

Another instance where self-driving vehicles are a threat to the American way of life is the all-American family farm. If tractors, combines, and other motorized farm implements are replaced with computer-driven machines, then it would be a lot easier for large agribusiness corporationsĀ like Bayer (which recently acquired Monsanto) to sweep in and take over family farms across the country.

While Obama has cited elderly people and disabled people (although I’m not elderly (I’m 26 years of age), I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I don’t drive) as two groups of people that might benefit from self-driving cars, the sobering reality is that there’s a lot more people who would be negatively impacted than those who would be positively impacted by self-driving vehicles. In fact, many of those who could benefit from self-driving cars don’t have cell phones that would be needed for them to get a ride in a self-driving car, either for cost reasons (most elderly and disabled people are very poor), or the nature of their disability makes it virtually impossible for them to operate a cell phone.

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Wisconsin Republicans and corporate Democrats attack a successful business

A large number of Republicans and twelve corporate Democrats in the Wisconsin State Legislature have decided to target a successful Wisconsin business: Union Cab of Madison Cooperative.

The Wisconsin State Legislature is on track to pass legislation, Wisconsin Senate Bill 106 (SB106), or, as I like to call it, the Julie Lassa-Cory Mason Bill to Revoke Local Control on Taxicab and Ridesharing Services, that would allow ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate statewide in Wisconsin with very few regulations. Ridesharing companies allow people who drive automobiles to offer rides to those who pay the ridesharing fee for a particular trip, usually via a mobile phone application that both the driver and the passengers are required to have.

These ridesharing companies engage in predatory practices that screw over customers, workers, and taxpayers. While I could write a 100,000-character blog post about the negative aspects of ridesharing companies, I’ll mention three of them in this blog post. First off, ridesharing companies screw over customers by raising their rates by using dynamic pricing, which is also called surge pricing. Surge pricing allows the ridesharing companies to raise their rates when their computer algorithms tell them that traffic is heavy, demand for rides is high, or something else that their algorithms factor in, such as, in at least one documented instance, a terrorist attack, allow them to raise their rates. Secondly, ridesharing companies screw over workers by taking a sizable chunk of the money that the drivers collect from offering rides. In some instances, ridesharing drivers are effectively paid a negative salary (i.e., effectively charged money to work) because the portion of the ridesharing fee that the driver keeps is less than the vehicle-related costs of the trip. Furthermore, ridesharing companies are a burden to taxpayers for two main reasons. First, taxpayers will end up on the hook for accidents involving ridesharing drivers who don’t have commercial automobile insurance. Second, there will be tons of lawsuits over liability claims over crashes involving ridesharing drivers, resulting in court cases that clog up the justice system and result in more taxpayer money being spent on trials.

However, the main reason why I oppose the Lassa-Mason Bill is because it’s clearly designed to take away local control from Wisconsin’s second-largest city, Madison, in regards to taxicab regulation. Furthermore, I highly suspect that this is part of a coordinated attack to put a successful business, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative, out of business for purely political reasons, something which I strongly oppose. Also, I strongly believe that any Democratic elected official who supports legislation that allows companies like Uber and Lyft to operate with very few regulations is effectively a traitor to the progressives who vote them into office, and I would have no problem supporting progressive-minded primary challengers to corporate Democrats who support the Lassa-Mason Bill and/or other parts of the political agenda of Uber and other ridesharing companies.

ENDORSEMENT: Rebecca Kemble for Madison (WI) Common Council District 18

Most of my attention on the Spring 2015 elections in Illinois and Wisconsin has been on the Chicago, Illinois mayoral race for obvious reasons, but I’m going to briefly talk about a race for a seat on the Madison, Wisconsin Common Council (“common council” is a Wisconsin term for the legislative branch of a city) in the northern part of that city.

The race I’m refering to is the District 18 Madison Common Council race between Rebecca Kemble, a columnist for The Progressive magazine and a worker-owner at Madison’s Union Cab Cooperative, and Peng Her, an assistant director at the Center for Resilient Cities. I’m endorsing Kemble in this race, and you can listen to WORT-FM’s interview of Kemble here.

Kemble has a long track record of standing up for progressive values. She’s been a fierce critic of Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the Wisconsin Legislature, and she has strongly supported progressive ideals, especially when it comes to workers’ rights and protecting the environment. More recently, Kemble has been one of the most vocal critics of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, companies that, among other things, don’t insure the cars their drivers use (ridesharing drivers are required to provide for their own insurance, and most car insurance policies don’t insure commercial activity, such as ridesharing), don’t provide workers’ compensation to their drivers, don’t provide rides for disabled people, and, especially in the case of Uber, bully anyone who dares to criticize them.

Make no mistake about it, Rebecca Kemble is a tough-as-nails progressive, and we need more people like her in elected office in this country.