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Posts Tagged ‘gig economy’

“The rise of ride-sharing services has increased traffic deaths by 2% to 3% in the US since 2011, equivalent to as many as 1,100 mortalities a year, according to a new study from the University of Chicago and Rice University.

How it was calculated: Researchers took statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and compared them with the dates Uber or Lyft launched in a specific city. Then they checked accident rates in those cities relative to vehicle miles traveled. That rate shot up in San Francisco after Uber launched in 2010, a phenomenon that was replicated in other cities.

Deadheading: The increase in congestion is partly because drivers spend 40% to 60% of their time searching for passengers, a practice known as “deadheading.” On average, drivers in New York City traveled 2.8 miles between fares.

Before ride-sharing: Traffic deaths fell to their lowest number just before Uber launched in San Francisco. In 2010 there were 32,885 fatal car accidents nationwide, the lowest number since 1949. This decline halted and then reversed after the introduction of ride-sharing in US cities. However, it “may be too soon to tell whether the effect we document is a short-term adjustment or a longer-term pattern,” the researchers said.

Piling up problems: The study adds to a growing body of research on ride-sharing companies. Recent studies have found they increase congestion and cut the use of public transport. Cities are starting to respond to harms, perceived or otherwise. New York’s city council introduced a cap on ride-sharing in August, for example.”

– Charlotte Jee, “Uber and Lyft are behind a sharp rise in US traffic deaths.” The Download, MIT Technology Review. October 25, 2018.

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“Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture
capital by November, 2015, has more about the “In Doers We Trust”
campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges
“doers” to “always be available,” to think about beating “the trust-fund
kids,” and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their
dentist. A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The
campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of
entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with
less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis,
and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the
essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an
aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of
sleep deprivation—or answer a call from a client while having sex, as
recommended in the video. It’s a stretch to feel cheerful at all about
the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who
will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book
cover for five dollars. I’d guess that plenty of the people who
advertise services on Fiverr would accept some “whiteboarding” in
exchange for employer-sponsored health insurance.

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance,
which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working
himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to
death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the
gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and
killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of
dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our
thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of
some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are
regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news
set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to
work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit,
Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a
tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car
is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even
implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to
afford his own commute.”

Jia Tolentino, “The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death.” The New Yorker, March 22, 2017.

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