News Item: Lyft and Uber drivers in Boston and Seattle are accused of discriminating against minority passengers.
True or false? Who knows? But who will find out? There’s no real mechanism.
If the driver of a yellow cab in Manhattan refuses to take an African American to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn at 3 o’clock on a Sunday morning, the rejected passenger has recourse. He can do several things: (1) report the cab and driver by name and number to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, (2) Ask the driver to take him to the NYPD Midtown North command center and then when the driver stops tell him he’s changed his mind and wants instead to go to Atlantic Avenue.
The front door of a police station is a lousy place for a cabbie to illegally deny a passenger his ride.
When the Uber or Lyft guy discriminates, who ya gonna call? The drivers are not employees. They’re not even independent contractors. They just free wheeling drivers of their private cars, probably driving for extra bucks and probably without public transit insurance.
Geico may revoke his overall insurance. But it will not investigate and prosecute.
The gig economy has turned ordinary Americans into sovereign states, or so they claim. Amway salesmen, department store clerks, postal franchisees and many doctors are now free agents. Oh, sure… there are licensing agencies. But “First do no harm” now is followed by “Second, don’t take patients if you don’t like their skin color or the way they wear their hair.”
All of this is ripples in the pond radiating from the stone marked “I am an island.” It sounds sooo American. “I’m free to be me (and screw you.)” But it isn’t.
The framers of the constitution believed in structure and compromise. They believed in laws and courts and law and order and individual rights -- but with limits.
They were building a country with only a small percentage of the current population and size. And they were building a country for themselves -- first generation Americans or immigrants from countries where everyone looks alike. (Translation: Protestants with light skin.)
If you’re a regular visitor to this space, you’ve heard this before:
- Government is more than a business. It is infrastructure.
- The grandmother guru of the Libertarians, Ayn Rand, called them whim worshiping hippies of the right and disavowed them.
Yes, you’ve heard it before. But it’s worth repeating as a wild 70 year old infant and a worn and disliked old school republican in a Democrat pants suit rampage through the landscape encouraging the rich to get richer and promising to make that easy while paying lip service to ordinary people.
But people in need are still drinking the Kool Aid.
--The end is near. At last. But if you think the election next week will finally drain us of our collective vitriol it won’t.
-“If America were a marriage, we’d need counseling.” --David Brooks.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016