The Truth About Ride-Sharing Networks

It’s a race to the bottom if you look at what drivers earn (June 1, 2018)

An economic policy institute study on Uber reveals that average Uber drivers’ wages compared to W-2 employees is $9.21 per hour after deducting expenses, fees and self-employment taxes (“Ride-Sharing Bill Offers Common Sense Requirements”).

Uber drivers fall in the lowest wage-earning percentile, making less than 90 percent of workers and less than the minimum wage in 13 of 20 major markets.

A “Democracy Now” article from May 29 quotes Bhairavi Desai, co-founder of New York Taxi Workers Alliance, speaking after the fifth taxi driver suicide: “It’s a race to the bottom. Everyday people are going deeper and deeper into poverty. And this is the reality of the so called gig economy. It’s about destroying what has been a full-time profession, turning it into part-time poverty-pay work.”

Uber Application in Hawaii
Using the Uber application in Hawaii. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

About a third of each fare goes to Uber, just slightly less than what the driver receives. 

My take on this is that this appears to be a very high and predatory toll to use a networking platform. If Uber and Lyft are to become  an innovative platform benefitting both the public and the drivers, it will only happen after they are regulated as public utilities that determine reasonable fees and protect the public and the drivers.

— Steve Paselk, Paia

Electric Vehicles

Let politicians know how you feel (June 1, 2018)

Greg Gaug bemoans an obvious fact — another missed opportunity by Hawaii politicians — when he should be pissed off and angry (“Lawmakers Missed Opportunities To Encourage Electric Vehicles”).  

I love what Ulupono Initiative and organizations like Blue Planet stand for. There’s only one problem: Such initiatives and organizations are dominated by liberals. 

Why is that a problem? Because liberals too often see their cause as righteous and imbued with the truth. So naturally, most liberals believe that all reasonable people, if properly informed through education and public outreach, will join their righteous cause.

Sounds good in theory. The reality is that reasonable and well-informed people often differ on very important matters.

I grew up playing organized sports — captaining my high school football and college rugby team. In my adult life, I’ve managed small and medium-sized organizations and businesses. And this is what I’ve learned: Be a good listener and take everyone’s suggestion under advisement, but when you reach 80 percent certainty, act quickly, decisively and adopt the attitude of “just do it.”

Unlike most of my friends who have the carbon footprint of three or four “average” persons, I’m a passionate conservationist. I do not own a personal car. I commute by bicycle seven miles each way, six days a week. I love nature so much that I occasionally “stealth” camp on our public lands but always practice “leave no trace.” I can’t remember the last time I carried anything in a plastic bag.

But more importantly, I still love my carbon-loving friends. And most importantly, I would not hesitate for a second, if it was in my power, to legislate massive deterrence against their waste — nothing personal, of course.

So from my perspective, Greg, the next time our politicians miss or ignore an opportunity, don’t bemoan, don’t whimper. Stand up, clear your throat, get angry and tell ’em to get off their ass.

— David Jung, Honolulu

Beyond Our Work Lives And The R Word

The Q word better describes this phase of life (June 1, 2018)

Thank you for your piece on the R word. As a recently retired man, this hit a responsive chord in my heart (“There’s Got To Be A Better Word Than ‘Retired’ For This New Phase Of Life”).

When I reached the ripe, virile age of 70, I chose to inform my boss that I would start my Hawaii Med-QUEST in six months. As soon as I said that magic word, QUEST, I admit that I enjoyed it when his eyes glossed over, and he had this glaring question mark over his head. What? QUEST?

Then, I said, “Yeah, you know. I will be retiring, and I plan to start my new journey in life. I call it a QUEST.”

He looked at me wide-eyed and said, “Oh, yeah. You are retiring. But why? You don’t have to.”

I know it probably sounds silly, but I still get a chuckle when I remember his expression. Anyway, we all have our different ideas about life. I’m not saying that this will fit everybody’s view point. For me, however, this is better than the R word.

So, I’ll stick with Q instead. This means that I am in pursuit of something. I am searching for meaning and purpose.

It also involves an adventurous journey that includes romance and excitement. You see, my lovely wife and I will be celebrating our 50th anniversary soon. I know this may sound strange to some people, but I am still deeply in love with this fascinating woman.

So, I think I’ll just take one day at a time and live in the moment.

Steven S. Foster, Kamuela

HART Vs. Auditor

Was there a Sunshine Law violation before the board meeting? (June 1, 2018)

There are two paragraphs in the article “State Auditor Says Rail Agency Is Interfering With His Work” that give cause for concern:

“Kondo said he just learned of the recordings and transcriptions on Wednesday after a couple of interviews with HART staff members.

“He then showed up in Kapolei for Thursday’s meeting. Before it started he was seen having animated conversations in the hallway with Robbins and several other HART board members and managers.”

If more than two HART board members were talking with Kondo at the same time, there could be a Sunshine Law violation. The Office of Information Practices should be pressed for an opinion.

— Lynne Matusow, Honolulu

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