Good piece, nicely written with some good ideas. The p2p thing though: It doesn’t help the cause of ‘fairness’ to pretend that Uber is something it‘s not.
A good example of a peer-to-peer company is AirBnB, which allows people to rent out their own homes temporarily. I’m writing this from the comfort of my AirBnB in Tel Aviv. I’ve rented out a small apartment from a young couple who, after they got into a relationship together, found themselves with a spare studio flat they could rent out. I booked my accomodation through a company that relies on the internet to facilitate the deal I made directly between me and my new temporary ‘landlord’ rather than between me and a hotel. That’s peer to peer, right? But Uber isn’t peer to peer. Most evidence we can access suggests that the majority of people who offer their driving services via Uber aren’t occasional drivers making use of an app to top up their income, but people who already drive for a living — mostly minicab drivers. Uber won’t share data about whether its employees are professional drivers or how many hours they work on average, but its promotional materials focus on existing professional drivers. So Uber isn’t peer-to-peer: It is about connecting customers with established businesses, through a marketplace which is eager to avoid any liability for the transactions it clears. And it has enriched one man — Travis Kalanick — to the tune of billions, while it’s workers in Detroit currently earn an average of 24 cents an hour. It is, in fact, much more of a ‘peer to peer’ transaction to put your hand in the air and flag down a self employed black cab driver than it is to use Uber.
I like the idea of gig co-ops, but again, would Uber tolerate this sort of organising? You only have to look into its treatment of workers who have unionised. They sack them. I think it’s a good guess to say Uber probably would not tolerate workers collectivising in any shape or form. And besides all that, if the median wage for an Uber driver is 24 cents per hour (just one example), then isn’t it still 24 cents per hour — regardless of the number of workers who pool their income?