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Uber and Lyft put up $60 million for ballot fight to avoid paying their drivers as employees

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On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported that ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft are prepared to spend $60 million in support of a potential California ballot question in 2020 that would prevent their workers from being classified as employees.

The push comes as the California legislature advances AB 5, which would require any workers who perform functions that aren’t outside the course of their employer’s business to be classified as an employee — codifying a decision last year by the California Supreme Court.

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Uber and Lyft have kept their margins low by classifying their workers as self-employed contractors who just happen to use their app as a social network to find passengers. This means that they are not covered by a number of protections that employees receive, like the right to unionize or to receive overtime pay.

The two ride-sharing corporations have frequently used their financial muscle to force states and cities to adopt or not adopt laws favorable to them. In 2017, they aggressively backed a local proposition in Austin, Texas, to defeat a new ordinance requiring FBI background checks and traffic restrictions on ride-sharing drivers. After the proposition was defeated, they suspended business in the city entirely until the Texas legislature passed a law preempting Austin’s ordinance.

This massive expenditure to protect favorable anti-worker policies is not entirely unexpected — there is reason to believe that the ride-sharing companies are in fact massively unprofitable even with worker costs kept to the bare minimum, so a defeat on this issue could well threaten the viability of their business altogether.


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Scathing column rips Jared Kushner for being a dangerous ‘doofus’ over his coronavirus bungling

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Writing in The Guardian this Tuesday, Arwa Mahdawi contends that although some like to characterize Jared Kushner as a "supervillain," he lack the charisma for such a title. But in many way, his lack of charisma is one of his greatest strengths, because it has helped him fly under the radar.

"Politics has become a reality TV show and quiet Kushner is often too boring to bother with; it is far more interesting to focus on his glamorous wife, Ivanka Trump, or his garrulous father-in-law," Mahdawi writes. "Yet over the past few years Kushner has managed to insert himself into the highest levels of decision-making while largely remaining behind the scenes."

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‘This is a calamity’: Presidential historian says Trump’s inept response to coronavirus proves he’s no FDR

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Presidential historian and MSNBC/NBC News contributor Jon Meacham often delves into U.S. history when discussing current events. And when he appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday morning, April 7, Meacham made a Trump/FDR analogy — stressing that President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s response to the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor are worlds apart.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941 was described by FDR as “a day which will live in infamy,” and Meacham described FDR’s response to that tragedy as one of strong crisis management. FDR, Meacham told host Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, candidly told Americans that “it’s going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better.”

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The coronavirus pandemic has exposed some disturbing truths about capitalism

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The desperate policies of panic-driven governments involve throwing huge amounts of money at the economies collapsed in response to the coronavirus threat. Monetary authorities create money and lend it at extremely low interest rates to the major corporations and especially big banks "to get them through the crisis." Government treasuries borrow vast sums to get the collapsed economy back into what they imagine is "the normal, pre-virus economy." Capitalism's leaders are rushing into policy failures because of their ideological blinders.

?The problem of policies aimed to return the economy to what it was before the virus hit is this: Global capitalism, by 2019, was itself a major cause of the collapse in 2020. Capitalism's scars from the crashes of 2000 and 2008-2009 had not healed. Years of low interest rates had enabled corporations and governments to "solve" all their problems by borrowing limitlessly at almost zero interest rate cost. All the new money pumped into economies by central banks had indeed caused the feared inflation, but chiefly in stock markets whose prices consequently spiraled dangerously far away from underlying economic values and realities. Inequalities of income and wealth reached historic highs.

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