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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

How to Socialize Uber

Recently, Mike Konczal made a splash with a piece in the Nation titled “Socialize Uber.” His argument was simple: most of the capital used by Uber — the cars, the auto insurance — is paid for by the workers. Yet the workers don’t get any of the profits. (Actually, Uber probably doesn’t make any profits yet, but it collects something like $2 billion a year from drivers; it then blows most of that on marketing and lobbying.)

So the obvious answer is right there in the title: socialize Uber. The company should be run as a worker cooperative. But a practical question still remains: how, as Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal asked on Konczal’s Facebook wall, would you go about turning Uber into a collective?

The simplest way, as I pointed out in response to Weisenthal’s query, would be for cities to adopt regulatory codes that only permit ride-sharing by worker-owned firms. Uber would then seamlessly become a software provider.

This sort of restriction isn’t unprecedented. Many states forbid corporations from engaging in certain kinds of farming; many exclude for-profit companies from certain kinds of gambling and credit counseling businesses; and federal restrictions on foreign ownership exist in a wide range of industries.

Read the full article at Jacobin


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