I’m old and I hate change so naturally I think the kids, with their smartphones and sharing economy, are just a bunch of addled-minded commies, high on stupid. After all, what was wrong with hailing a cab and paying the fare? Now I’m supposed to hop in with some weirdo who drives strangers around town because he finds livery work self-actualizing? Fiddlesticks to that!
In all seriousness, I’ve been skeptical of Uber from the start. It has that slippery con-man vibe to it. Like everything else about the “sharing economy” it is real good at sharing the costs, but even better at privatizing the profits. Apparently, they are not very good at screening their drivers.
A man who works as a driver for the ride-sharing service Uber is accused of raping a woman he picked up in Boston.
The suspect, 46-year-old Alejandro Done of Boston, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of rape, assault to rape and assault and battery.
Authorities say on December 6, the victim was waiting for a ride-sharing driver at a residence on Tremont Street in Boston.
When the victim got into the car, the driver told her that he would need a cash payment for the ride, so he brought her to an ATM.
The driver then allegedly drove to a location the passenger was not familiar with, pulled over in a secluded area and jumped in the backseat where she was sitting.
“He allegedly struck her with his hands, strangled her, locked the car doors so that she could not escape and covered her mouth so she could not scream,” according to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. “During an ensuing physical struggle, the defendant allegedly sexually assaulted the woman.”
Uber says Done was not the driver the victim contacted to pick her up.
“This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery,” Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh said. “Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation.”
Uber says Done passed a background check prior to becoming an independent contractor with the company. He is being held pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for December 24 in Cambridge District Court.
Uber strikes me as one of the pet rock businesses of post-reality America. By that, I mean it is is a fun fad that people get rich from, but otherwise is not a real business with staying power. The reason is they are basically making money by deception. Part of that deception is cost shifting. They shift the operating costs of a taxi company onto the drivers, cell phone carriers and general society.
Let me explain that last part. On their site they say you don’t need extra insurance to be one of their drivers. That’s not exactly true. My insurance policy explicitly says I am not covered as a for-hire driver and my car will not be covered as a commercial vehicle. Uber says they cover you while you are on a trip, but the limits are the bare minimum and it is unclear if they are the primary or secondary carrier.
That’s just one piece of the cost shifted to the driver. If your fare spills their coffee, tears a seat of some other common occurrence, Uber is not paying for it. Uber is not getting your oil changed or your tires rotated. Basically, Uber is dodging the costs taxi companies face in fleet expenses, by suckering people into working for them under the table, in effect. What Uber is doing is no different than what landscapers do with illegal alien labor.
The old school taxi company they are “disrupting” is required to comply with a long list of laws, regulation, and insurance requirements. Those have costs which show up in the fare. No one is getting rich driving a taxi. Uber either shirks those costs or shifts them to the rest of us. That let’s them undercut the taxi companies and make money.
The argument from libertarians is that Uber is forcing changes to those regulation, taxes and so forth, by functioning as an above ground black market. We’ll see. It may be easier just to put Uber out of business. Either way, Uber is not magically making taxis cheaper. They are just hiding the costs. When you factor back in the cost of being raped by the Uber driver, a taxi starts looking pretty good again.