Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why are Hartmann and Miller Uber shills?

I've been hearing a lot of Uber commercials on both of their shows. Given the Uber business model I've also been wondering how either could promote such a despicable company given their progressive bona fides. So I went to the Hartmann message boards and found this thread on the topic. I will copy of few of posts by porches-and-titchforks, who started it:

Feb. 11, 2016 10:37 am

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?

Feb. 14, 2016 10:52 am
(Reply to #21)
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. 
Feb. 18, 2016 1:00 pm 
To get back to other matters.... why is Thom doing ads for Uber if he is aware of the issues I have raised in this thread, especially the threat to American workers that the gig economy poses by doing an end run around federal labor law? Am I to believe Thom secretly is an Ayn Rand follower? I have to believe Thom is aware of everything I have brought up in this thread. And I believe he is smart enough to understand the implications. I don't know. Maybe Thom is as vulnerable to cognitive dissonance as everyone else. But going on the the previous assumption then the only logical conclusion is that he is being compelled to do the ads. Both Thom and Stephanie Miller, who also does ads for Uber, are syndicated by Westwood One, which is owned by Cumulus Media. I am guessing that at some higher level an agreement was reached and through a moral calculus of the greatest good for the greatest number of people Thom decided that on balance it was better to do the ads than ruffle ownership. This could all be done without conspiracies in dark, smoke filled rooms. It would happen the same way that it does in a news organization. There are unwritten understandings between journalists and management/editors/ownership which stories to cover and how and which stories not to cover. If you want to retain your job or rise in the ranks then you figure out these unwritten rules and follow them.

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