The Corner

Economy & Business

Who Foresaw Uber as One of the Big Issues of 2016?

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Who Foresaw Uber as One of the Big, Defining Issues of 2016?

Coming from Hillary today:

In a speech Monday at the famously progressive New School in lower Manhattan, Clinton will lay out her economic theory of the case, and her main theory is that the incomes of “everyday Americans” have remained too low for too long.

Clinton’s aide said she will discuss some of the structural forces conspiring against sustainable wage growth, such as globalization, automation, and even consumer-friendly “sharing economy” firms like Uber and Airbnb that are creating new relationships between management and labor (and which now employ many Obama administration alumni). But she will argue that policy choices have contributed to the problem, and that she can fix it.

Meanwhile, Mike Allen of Politico reports,

Jeb will hail an Uber on Thursday during a visit to San Francisco, where he’ll talk about the importance of innovation and fostering disruptive technology to create high-paying jobs. Bush will argue that this is America’s competitive advantage — we shouldn’t be stifling it to appease entrenched interests. He’ll call that Hillary’s path. Bush will also tour “Thumb[t]ack,” a hot startup that helps users find professionals from painters to tutors to party planners.

Elsewhere, Scott Walker officially jumps into the race today. Check out what he did two months ago:

Late Friday night, Gov. Scott Walker announced that he signed a bill into law that creates statewide standards for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.

The new law prohibits any local ordinances governing rideshare or ride-hailing companies. Instead, the companies will be required to purchase a $5,000 state license, conduct driver background checks and also maintain liability insurance. And the law says drivers cannot discriminate against passengers based on their race, religion, sex or disability.

Under the new law, ridesharing or “transportation network companies” (TNCs) must be licensed by the state Department of Safety and Professional Services. The measure says such companies are required to conduct local and national background checks, and it prohibits the employment of sex offenders, habitual traffic offenders, and people with drunken driving convictions. The companies will also be required to electronically transmit drivers’ photos and license plate numbers to passengers.

Local governments would be unable to regulate rideshare companies at all, but would be permitted to keep all their same regulations in place on firms such as taxi companies, which would have to compete with much more substantial regulations on them.

Our Reihan Salam pointed out a little while back that Uber is a pretty fascinating Rorschach test on views of the economy:

According to Benner, “people are attracted to on-demand gigs because more solid full-time work is still hard to come by in a U.S. economy that has rebounded for everyone but average workers.” This is certainly one reason people are attracted to on-demand gigs. Yet there are other reasons as well. For example, a rising share of young adults are enrolled in higher education, and working part-time as an Uber driver or as an Instacart shopper or as a TaskRabbit errand-runner can be a convenient way to make a modest income while keeping unconventional hours. Similarly, one might want to devote most of one’s time to raising children or caring for an aging parent while still earning some spending money. Even if the labor market continues to tighten, there will be many workers who will prize this kind of flexibility. Almost all of the on-demand employees Benner surveys are people with tragic stories. Almost all of those I’ve encountered have more optimistic ones. This could reflect our respective biases, or the regions in which we live. But it is foolish to deny that workers have a range of experiences with these services, not all of them negative.

Hillary’s speech will also call for “an infrastructure bank that could generate construction jobs while improving the competitiveness of the economy, and clean energy projects that reduce carbon emissions while putting people to work.” Gee, no chance of cronyism in those giant spending projects, huh?

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