Pedal Taxis and soft-pedaling the entire world of “independent contractors” | Street Jazz

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pedal Taxis and soft-pedaling the entire world of “independent contractors”

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 10:21 AM

If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all. - comedian Joey Adams

Am I the only one who feels a little creepy when I read about the “human-powered pedicabs” about to hit the streets of the New York City of the Ozarks? Even watching them in the movies gives me an uneasy feeling, as it always seems inhumane, and the brutal truth is that - at least in third world countries - the employees come from lives of extreme poverty, and are almost literally worked into the ground.

But - but - it’s a “green” job! Yeah, the kind of job that makes one green with revulsion, I suppose.

But it’s the whole notion of “independent contractors” that is of real concern - not only in this instance, but across the entire United States. The Fayetteville City Council was wise to at least insist that the company in question have actual employees, rather than the dreaded independent contractor label.

Why, you may be asking, berserk reader. After all, a rose by any name still has the same damn thorns. Well, not exactly. According the website

Companies don't have to withhold federal, state and Social Security (FICA) taxes, or pay unemployment or workers' compensation insurance for independent contractors. They also don't need to offer benefits like paid sick leave, vacation, health insurance and stock options, as they do to attract and retain employees. In fact, companies don't have to offer much of anything to independent contractors, except that for which they've agreed by contract (independent contractor agreement). That saves tons of paperwork and big bucks, giving dishonest companies lots of incentive to cheat independent contractors of their rights.

The cheaters (and naive) misclassify workers as independent contractors, but still attempt to control them as employees. In doing so, they reap the benefits of both worlds, while depriving independent contractors of the very reason they became independent contractors in the first place: to be their own bosses.

The city’s rationale was that any citizen too damn lazy to walk and therefore felt the need for a pedicab might have difficulty collecting damages if they were injured as a result of their epic journey.

I don’t much care about that.

I’m much more concerned about the health care benefits - if any - of the employees of this enterprise. I wish that someone had thought to ask about that.


Whoa! Wait a minute!

One company will only charge $1 per ride, plus tips. Another company which hopes to come in will get revenue only from tips?

Don’t even think about asking for a living wage, kids.


Quote of the Day

This great and powerful force- the accumulated wealth of the United States- has taken over all the functions of Government, Congress, the issue of money, and banking and the army and navy in order to have a band of mercenaries to do their bidding and protect their stolen property. - Senator Richard Pettigrew - Triumphant Plutocracy - Published, January 1, 1922.

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