I’m writing to note that, while I really appreciated Mike Konczal’s fantastic piece “Socialize Uber” [Dec. 29], which advocates the restructuring of app-based ride-sharing along worker co-op lines, the title is misleading. In common usage, “socialize Uber” suggests that the state should take ownership of and run the service. However, what Konczal advocates is not that, but instead the reorganization of Uber-esque services along cooperative lines, which is “mutualization,” not “socialization.” Unfortunately, the mistitling of this wonderful and important piece in a way that invokes the bureaucratic disasters of the Cold War era undermines the article’s ability to reach a critical mass of people in a moment when its message very much needs to be heard.
I say this as a form of encouragement, not as snark: the Uber and Lyft apps are not rocket science. An enterprising anarchist or communalist who knows how to code apps can create a national ride-share cooperative tomorrow. Yeah, the servers, the insurance, a small staff and some advertising will cost a comparatively small amount of money, but start in New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles and expand outward as the budget allows. This can be done today. Why wait for the rulers of the Neoliberal Empire to change? Do it now. I don’t know why smartphone technology and the Internet have not already led to multiple worker co-ops. I can see eldercare co-ops, nursing co-ops, package-delivery co-ops… on and on. Let’s make our own revolution.
I thought this was an excellent piece about how to make the “sharing” in the so-called sharing economy real. It probably overstates the ease of making the transition, especially since Uber would fight any “disruption” with every dirty billion at its disposal. But the core idea is great.
What a Mensch!
Thanks for Tom Hayden’s moving tribute to Mario Savio [“Remembering Mario Savio,” Dec. 29]. The one thing I missed reading in the piece was any discussion of the last campaign Savio worked on—the one to defeat California’s Proposition 209 [which sought to ban affirmative action]. We lost that one, along with affirmative action in the state, just days before Savio died of a heart attack at age 53. As a longtime feminist and antiracist activist, I saw the depth of his commitment to all of our intersecting struggles. When other white men of our generation in the anti–Prop 209 campaign appeared stung by the criticism of their racism, Savio stood out once again as the mensch who got it. Humble and nondefensive, he remained an ally for so many of us to the last.