Skip to content


My gut, and my intellect, tell me that Uber [1] is a bad idea. There are reasons why we have taxi medallions – look at the places that don’t. Do you really want a million Uber drivers cruising around LAX looking for pickups? There are also reasons why we have employment laws, FICA payments, worker’s comp, commercial drivers licenses and insurance, and 40 hour work weeks. And all the ways that these “sharing” startups make money is to get around all these things. They’re huge backward steps for workers everywhere [2].

So I try to take taxis. But jesus god, fucking taxis are not good advertisements for themselves [3]. Last time I was verging on an asthma attack by the time I got home, from the second-hand lingering smoke. Time before that, the Senagalese driver thought he was saving gas by not running the AC. In LA. In July. Yesterday, I checked for AC and non-smoking, but Bell Cab puts up a bullet-proof plastic barrier between the front and back seat. Jet-lagged me didn’t twig on that, so still no AC for the 90 minute ride home. In September. In LA 5 PM traffic [4].

If there’s any industry that deserves to be regulated, it’s people driving other people for money. If there’s any industry that deserves to be disrupted, it’s taxis. But the “sharing” economy seems to be a remarkably self-defeating way to disrupt it. We’ll end up with the worst of both worlds – a million crappy unregulated jitneys driven by under-employed workers not counted in U6 who can’t afford to pay for maintenance on the beater cars they’re driving. Instead of ten thousand crappy economically and safety regulated yellow cabs [6].


[1] and AirBnB, and Kickstarter, and Lyft – the whole “sharing” economy, except there’s no sharing of your sweat equity that is making the CEOs of these companies billionaires.

[2] Which, by the way, is you. You are never going to be rich. You are never going to show your deck to an angel and discuss A round funding. If you were, you would have already. Several times.

[3] Don’t get me started on why my employer will reimburse me for a $125 taxi from LAX to home, but won’t reimburse me for a $90 “limo” service for the same distance. Even though both are Prius’ these days. It’s just that the latter is clean, has water, AC, is smoke-free, a driver who speaks English and doesn’t chant the same Senagalese song over and over, and fucking shows up on time. Seriously. I wish I had taken a picture of the guys hack license – his name was an advertisement for every fear of immigrants held by rednecks in the backwoods.

[4] LX40 is the best flight for me – excellent service, easy access, and more importantly, it leaves at 1 PM which means I don’t have to get up at an ungodly hour to get to Zurich, and is 12 hours non-stop. The catch is that it gets in at 16:30 Pacific, which means that after waiting in two (!?!) passport lines [5], it’s not going to be a 40 minute drive home.

[5] Yes, if it’s possible for US immigration checks to get worse, it did. Now you wait in line for the automated kiosks, then wait in line again to talk to a real person, no doubt practicing the worthless (although $1B) “behavioral detection” program.

[6] The answer would be to issue a few more medallions, and have real regulation of cabs. Real spot checks. Real fines. Real regulation. An online rating system. Combine the yelpishness of Uber with the economics necessitated by not having a million Uber drivers trying to make pickups at LAX on a Friday night.