Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gigs Up!

I predict that as the new ## du jour as we wind down the kerfluffle of the women's movement, the irony not lost that it perhaps is happening on the worst day of weather across the country is a symbol that cannot be lost. Remember the Climate Change marches?  Me either.

Again could we find a coalition and somehow find issues that we agree are priority and in turn eliminate individual mandates for the collective whole?  Funding for schools, raising the minimum wage, affordable housing, equal rights that include gender/sexuality/religion, Immigration and climate change.  Start there, it is a big list and given the people currently serving in office those seem to be 7 - 13 on matters of import.  Wow lucky 13 right there!   One through six seem to be more money for the rich via tax cuts, deregulation, Russia, walls, China and suffocating free press.

The reality is that America's greatest economic generator is the tech sector and their relationship with China is fraught with complex issues that make any seen on the Bachelor kiddie play.  Part of the Valley's innate problem is they are exactly like the Oligarchs were of yesteryear, protecting their own class and securing their economic place in society.  They have a better vocabulary that professes doing good but so far I have seen or heard little that actually demonstrates this.    Sure I can freely Google but the costs are my personal privacy and a violation of my own personal civil rights for privacy. 

We used to feed the Gods that were Wall Street and in turn all hearts and minds fell to them to ensure that the prosperity of America was under the dubious belief that all Americans could grow wealthy and find economic security through the concept of investments in public funds.  Sure that was then this is now and if anything we learned from 2008 that regardless of the crime we pay the costs and do the time.

I have been using Lyft of late as I travel across the city to get to appointments, pick up goods and try to manage at times a commute that I prefer to rely upon buses frankly as there is less conversation and less confusion as how to go three city blocks.  Seriously Google your maps with all your tech are junk.  Weird how that works out and as if I would get into a driverless car knowing that.

Millennial's you are so used to people aka "Mommy"  driving you as you shuttled to school, to practice, to homes and to play dates you are pretty sure everyone loves that and as Chauffeurs are related to Green Books and the rich you came up with the idea of ride sharing.  Really it is a taxi but without that pesky regulation and licensing.  Good plan.   Then you have the same person shop for your Groceries and bring them home and if you cannot manage actually doing real meal preparation then the same person who drove you home, shopped for you and brought it to you will go out and get takeout for you.   I used to call that a Parent, then a Husband and then I got independent and shit and managed to do it myself.  Wow and I car shared my own car via Car2Go and drove myself, parked it, found it later and used it again.  Saving money and bother of owning a vehicle when this thing called public transit was not convenient.  You know like grown ups do and shit.

But Silicon Valley is the valley of the dolls, they have one shared brain and don't do fun ones like those in the book by Jacqueline Susan.  They would be better off.  I am still trying to figure out how Lyft and Uber have valuations in the billions when all they are are taxi and food delivery services and they actually don't even own the taxis, so they have no tangible assets in which to inventory and assess value.  And they don't produce any product that is sold and can be in turn valued for gross income versus net profit after labor and manufacturing costs are tallied.  So they get individuals to use their cars, pay their insurance to drive strangers all over town for a cut of the costs they bill the passenger.  Like Taxi and Limo Services only the cost of upkeep for the vehicle and insurance is covered by the company.  I used to love that show Taxi!  So anyway if the driver gets into an accident or is hurt by a car or a passenger that falls to them to repair said vehicle, pay any costs and are ultimately responsible. Same with the passenger.  Good luck with that if anyone has ever dealt with insurance you will find yourself lost in a quagmire of hell and I have a suspicion that they don't look kindly on these kind of drivers so I suspect that is one hell of a premium.

One thing I have learned is that I ask all my drivers what they do and where they live.  Few if any live in Nashville proper, hence the reliance on the tool (in every sense of the word in a negative manner) on Google maps.  They also commute themselves as a result to drive around the city finding gigs and one driver I had informed that she worked all day and made $6.00.  She lived an hour commute outside Nashville and has been doing this for two years and frankly given her lack of knowledge knowing the area I was shocked as she was nice but okay. Then we had the "Hotelier" who seemed to know nothing about commercial development or anything about Hotels but was building one that he could not share with me as it would disrupt the hotel industry.  This is from someone who came here 10 years ago to be a Musician and worked waiting tables while failing at that career and now was driving Lyft. But I felt like I was trapped with an aspiring Donald Trump the way he informed me about real estate investments. Funny that I had to tell him about current hotels and land for sale but okay then.  Sure this is the Nashville Way - stupid.

I would rather walk than use Lyft and I rarely tip and did with the woman as I felt bad as when I am directing them and having to deal with all this to get from point A to B it just isn't worth it.  I have watched cars drive by as they are confused by where I am standing and in turn gotten into some vehicles that the driver was so bizarre that I ended the trip earlier feigning I forgot something.

I urge you to read this and understand that the Valley is about green and by green they mean money that is how green the valley is.

Silicon Valley’s grand experiment in jobs means employees are the guinea pigs

By Katherine Boyle
The Washington Post
January 18 2019

Katherine Boyle is a venture capitalist at General Catalyst in San Francisco.

For roughly 2,300 years, Aristotle’s edict “We work in order that we may have leisure” has explained a lot of why humans do what they do. Philosophers in every age have upheld the virtue of work, providing that, at some point, we could kick back a little bit.

But Silicon Valley is busy fiddling with that ancient contract. Among technologists building our task-based gig economy, there have emerged two factions holding opposing theories of the future of work and what it means. In one, we each will need to have many jobs. In the other, we will not work at all. It’s unclear in which direction we’re headed.

The first group — the UBERians, let’s call them — believe the gig economy will give workers more money, more time and more flexibility. In a perfect UBERian world, we will all be gig workers, working for a variety of platforms, enjoying the benefits of life as independent contractors. As Uber and Lyft — the current victors of the gig economy — go public this year, it’s also clear that Silicon Valley’s grand experiment with gig employment is not so much freedom from labor but gamifying it so that workers will do more of it. The next time you climb into the Prius you just summoned, ask your driver if he or she is on track to hit their Quest bonus today and see what happens.

The second group — the UBIans, let’s call them — believe machine intelligence will soon replace much of work as we know it. The UBIan mantra is: “We work on algorithms in order that . . . oh no, humans may never need to work again.” As human labor increasingly becomes the most expensive input in the “technical stack,” this faction believes much of work will become obsolete and the government will need to give everyone some form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) to live.

Universal Basic Income has become intellectually so trendy in Silicon Valley that it’s a little like last season’s Juicero — faddish and frivolously accepted as something society really needs. When UBIans gather in their cryptocurrency WhatsApp groups — UBIans aren’t fans of dinner parties, as they tend to fast “to enhance cognitive function” during the week — they’ll cite the success of UBI in Kenya and Uganda, where GiveDirectly, a nonprofit, offers unconditional cash to small groups. Or the Alaska Permanent Fund, which has been supplying Alaskans with a yearly cash dividend since 1982. “On a limited scope,” they’ll say, “this works!”

As everyone knows, when Silicon Valley investors assess start-ups, their primary question is, “Will it scale?” When it comes to solving the riddle of an economy where work is dramatically changing, many who work with me in the digital economy are eager to foist the problem on Washington. Perhaps they know full well that our gridlocked Congress will not enact the greatest change to welfare since the New Deal. For many technologists, UBI is an intellectual get-out-of-jail-free card that makes it easier to stomach the long-term effects of our preferred business models.

On the flip side, many advocates for the gig economy genuinely believe their new business model is better for workers’ lives. And for many workers, it is: Uber and Lyft and many of their like are strong platforms for part-time workers who make gig work a supplement to a full-time job.

But the reality of who benefits seems to relate directly to the type of gig work one does and how much of it one performs: According to a JPMorgan Chase Institute study, from 2013 to 2017, gig-worker earnings fell by 53 percent in the transportation sector but grew by 69 percent in the leasing sector. Thus, if you’re driving, you’re likely worse off than you were five years ago. But if you’re renting an apartment, you’re faring much better.

Meanwhile, it’s somewhat unclear how many people the gig economy really serves. Government agencies can’t even agree on “who” a gig worker is: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently declared a slight decline over 12 years in gig economy workers to 10 percent of the workforce, while the Federal Reserve says contractors compose closer to 30 percent, the difference being whether gig work is primary or supplemental income, which again, isn’t easy to measure. Even Alan Krueger and Lawrence Katz, the two economists who published a widely cited study in 2016 on the gig economy, recently walked back their conclusions that the gig economy was growing rapidly.

Growing or not, it’s clear though that politicians are not keen to fund the social costs of these new business models; more likely, they will force tech companies to unravel the problems themselves. In December, New York officials enacted a guaranteed minimum wage for ride-hailing drivers of $17.22 per hour. Neither the UBERians nor the UBIans applauded. That may be because it’s increasingly clear what most people want: a traditional relationship with their employer. Silicon Valley would be wise to heed the signs — as well as the literal signage — now popping up on streets. Last year, when striking workers picketed outside many Marriott hotels in San Francisco, they held up signs that said, “One job should be enough.”

While the future may mean choosing no job or many, many of us are still with Aristotle, craving that weekend nap.

No comments:

Post a Comment