The “I support the current thing” meme is popular among sarcastic people on social media. Image: Google images
Suddenly, it’s very hip to be down on Uber.
I probably shouldn’t say “suddenly,” because visionaries and thinkers like Hubert Horan and Cory Doctorow have been documenting for a decade the bezzle that is Uber. Anyone with eyes to see and 15 minutes experience in business could have told riders, investors and politicians that there were not excess billions of dollars being earned by Taxi industry members. The idea that suddenly ground transportation could support not only drivers and owners but also thousands of technical staff, international advertising campaigns and glitzy head office towers would have gotten you laughed out of the garage.
This summer, with the release of “The Uber Files” there has been a flurry of attention to all things Taxi and Uber. Perhaps I should say “Anti-Uber,” because suddenly the fact that Uber is an unprofitable business model which exploits drivers, gouges customers and has been a safety risk from the start has dawned upon the consciousness of the globe.
For example, in July, the Toronto Star took the unusual step of publishing two of my Taxi News columns, “Don’t close the Uber Files“ and “How Toronto’s accessible service was blown up by Uber.” That was great.
Some of the stories, like Kam Phung’s sadly amazing Ph.D thesis on Stigma in the Taxi industry “When Stigma does not transfer” seem to be an honest, professional, intelligent look at the dilemma in which Taxi drivers found themselves, and why.
Others are more dubious and worthy of scepticism. For example, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s seemingly-offhanded remarks in a CBC interview that his biggest regret was the Uber vote at Council:
“You know, Jill, you’ve seen all the articles about how bad Uber was, is,” Minnan-Wong said, apparently referring to the recently released Uber Files, “and all the nonsense that went on, back in the day when we approved them.
“When we did that, we crushed the taxi industry, and we crushed their families.
“When you’re deputy mayor, you’re obliged to support the mayor’s agenda, which I did,” he excused himself. “You know sometimes there’s going to be a level of disagreement, but as the deputy mayor, that’s part of the assignment when you get the appointment.
“But I was I was very uncomfortable with it. In fact, I refused to meet with Uber at the time, because I knew they were liars. But because I was deputy mayor, I had to vote for this. If I were to do it all over again, I would not have I would have not have voted to allow Uber into the city of Toronto.”
How uncomfortable was Minnan-Wong with legalizing Uber, actually? His words and his behaviour were so egregious that I filed a complaint with Toronto Integrity Commissioner (which, like all Taxi industry complaints to the Integrity Commissioner, went no where).
Minnan-Wong actually went on the CBC in 2016 and complained that Toronto needed Uber because Taxis were “terrible,” “smelly and stinky,” “not in very good shape” and “a terrible ride.” In later news coverage he called Taxi owners “parasites” and then posted this personal insult to two women who have dedicated their entire lives to the industry.
OK, that was then and this is now. Minnan-Wong didn’t want to vote to legalize Uber; he HAD to because it was the Mayor’s Agenda and he was Deputy Mayor. So obviously, he had no choice in the matter. He just HAD to vote to “crush the Taxi industry, and crush their families.”
How much does Minnan-Wong regret his past behaviour (pro-Uber) and how much does he now Support the Current Thing (reading the Uber Files and being Anti-Uber)?
Well, I was so excited when I heard that he now regrets his 2016 vote that I wrote and called his office to ask for his help: Taxi News is planning a press conference in August, and could use his help booking the Councillor’s Lounge for the event. Would Denzil’s office sponsor the Lounge for us?
We haven’t heard back from him yet, but I’m sure we will. I just hope it happens soon, before the next Current Thing takes over.
Elon Musk’s take on the “I support the current thing” meme lit up the internet for a short while. Image: Twitter