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Uber uber alles?

There is nothing I like more than having my own preconceptions validated, so I direct your attention to a series of articles (now concluded) at Naked Capitalism about Uber.

I’ve always detested Uber, because every fiber of my being believed it was simply a device to shift money from the bottom to the top. Taxi drivers don’t get rich, but they generally make decent money. Uber, I’ve always believed, is designed to impoverish the drivers while enriching a few billionaires.

It turns out, not surprisingly, that I was right. It also turns out that the only way Uber can make money is if it becomes a monopoly, something it is trying to do by heavily subsidizing its service right now, against the day when it will have destroyed the competition, at which time it must raise rates dramatically, while continuing to keep its employees independent contractors in poverty. This is because at the moment, Uber is losing money at a phenomenal rate. It survives only because it is being funded by predatory billionaires, who are drooling at the prospect of having a stake in an unregulated monopoly.

At least according to Hubert Horan, the author of the series of articles at Naked Capitalism, we can take solace from the fact that it likely won’t work, for the reasons he outlines. But I suppose that really depends on whether Uber is able to steamroll local opposition and state regulations. You can probably buy that kind of protection from Congress in the worst of times (for monopolists), but these are the best of times for their ilk, so who knows.

Anyway, the articles make good reading, not just about Uber, but about the realities of the “sharing” economy. The first article is here.

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