Full disclosure: I am a member of Union Cab, a worker owned and operated cooperative in Madison Wisconsin. I listen to Thom's radio show on 92.1 while I am driving my cab and the cognitive dissonance of listening to Thom, a man I admire and mostly agree with on just about everything, doing the narration for an Uber ad is driving me nuts. I understand the importance of ad revenue, but I have to believe Thom just is not aware of how shady and nefarious Uber and the "sharing economy" in general is, or he wouldn't be advertising for them.
Here are a few articles to get the conversation started:
The following is a link to an article by Robert Reich, titled The share-the-scraps economy:
This article is a good overview of the flaws and exploitation in the Uber business model:
Yet another reason to eschew Uber:
This is a link to a website which contains information about an ongoing class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Uber drivers in california:
Why is Uber fighting so hard to keep their drivers classed as "independent contractors"? Answer: So they can do an end run around federal labor law.
Uber came to Madison wisconsin and began operating illegally in violation of local taxi ordinances. This is their basic MO when entering a market. Their first ploy was to claim that they were not a taxi service at all since their drivers only accepted "donations" and therefore could not be regulated as such. This was ridiculous on the face of it. The Madison city council and the Mayor were slow to react to this intrusion into the local transportation market, but finally got around to passing new language for the general ordinance 11.06, the city ordinance which regulates the taxi business in Madison. One week later legislation was introduced to the state assembly, jammed through under "emergency rules' procedures, passed in the house and senate in record time with barely a chance for anyone to offer amendments or debate the merits and on the governor's desk 3 weeks later. Our reviled governor Scott Walker signed it into law. The new state law preempted the right of local municipalities to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), like Uber and Lyft. It's a poor law with weak regulations. The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), a Walker ceation, is tasked in the bill with handling complaints. The DSPS is an underfunded, understaffed, state agency that is unlikely to enforce much of anything. Anybody have any doubts that checks were written to get that bill passed so quickly?
Again, I understand how important ad revenue is, but advertising for Uber on a progressive talk show is like advertising for the Heartland Institute.
In fact Americans For Prosperity (A Koch lobbying front group) weighed in on Uber's side when the City Of Madison was crafting a new ordinance to allow Uber to operate legally in the city of madison:
Uber is an exploitative business model. It is antithetical to worker's rights.
Travis Kalanick, the ceo of Uber, is an Ayn Rand acolyte.
Need I say more?
I honestly posted the OP with the presumption that Thom must not have all the facts about the sharing economy and what it means for workers. I am now pretty thoroughly doubtful that is the case and I am wondering about where Thom's allegiances lie. It grieves me to say this. Reading Thom's wikipedia page it is pretty apparent Thom is most likely a very wealthy man. If not the 1%, at least quite probably the 5%. This of course does not necessarily mean he is anti-worker or an evil capitalist, but it suggests that he may well have other reasons for plugging Uber than a bit of ad revenue. Uber's latest valuation is 62 billion. That valuation is based on two things: Uber's exploitation of It's "driver partners" and the investing classes belief that others will continue to invest and drive Uber's stock price even higher. At a certain level the billionaire investor class are all tied together. They sit on each other's boards, they make common cause when it suits their interests and the little people get trampled under their feet. No amount of philanthropy after the fact can make up for supporting this way of doing business. Make a deal with the devil and throw a few dollars to a deserving charitable cause to assuage your conscience? Such noblesse oblige is quaint these days, but that's the gist I am getting.