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Shorter Uber: “Gentlemen, To Evil!”

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The more one knows about Uber, the more shocking its corporate culture and behavior becomes. It needs more drivers with decent cars. So what is its solution? Offer drivers sub-prime loans for cars at high interest rates!

To solve that problem, the company has raised $1 billion to start Xchange Leasing, a sub-prime lender with the sole purpose of getting poor people into new cars so they can drive for the ride-hailing service.

If you’ve got a license and are willing to drive, Uber will hook you up with a new car, no matter how bad your credit. To make sure you make your payments, though, Uber will automatically deduct them weekly from what you earn as a driver. If you don’t drive enough, or you fail to make your lease payment, Xchange has folks to take the car back.

As for the terms, well, here’s what Mark Williams, a lecturer at Boston University’s business school told Bloomberg News: “The terms, the way they’re proposed, are predatory and are very much driven toward profiting off drivers.”

Uber, which is now valued at $62.5 billion, can only make money if tens of thousands of people sign up as drivers. That’s because 50 percent of Uber drivers quit after just six months.

Xchange wants to address that by striking deals with automakers and Wall Street backers to lease 100,000 cars to new Uber drivers. Uber says they are providing a pathway for poor people to buy a new car.

Unfortunately, Xchange Leasing sounds more like a payday-loan racket built into a company store. The lease increases the company’s control over the driver, who Uber still insists is nothing more than an “independent” contractor.

How is someone independent when Uber controls access to customers, sets the billing rates, demands a minimum number of hours and owns the car and the predatory lease on it?

I can think of another way Uber could find good cars. The company could buy the cars itself. But no, of course not, because Uber’s entire model is built upon outsourcing all risk and obligation onto the drivers while maintaining control over anything that makes profit.

Meanwhile, David Plouffe’s post-Obama career is as yucky as anyone could imagine. See, Uber has just received a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia? I know, what could possibly go wrong. What would a company built entirely on forcing workers to take all the risks need all that money for? To create a global monopoly. What did Plouffe have to do with this? He the one who put it all together. Plouffe is basically the public face of Uber now. Of course, I wonder if there is anyone in Saudi Arabia who isn’t allowed to be an Uber driver and who must rely on ride services because they can’t drive? Oh yeah, women.

The deal between the only country in the world that bans female drivers and Silicon Valley’s ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. may be as unusual as it is convenient. What’s sure is that it’s caused outrage among many Saudi women.

They are angry that Uber’s new $US 3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund not only means the government directly profits from the ban, but also it effectively – in their view – endorses the country’s no-women-behind-the-wheel policy. The investment is part of the ultra-conservative Gulf country’s steps toward making money from things other than oil.

But it raised hackles on social media, where the hashtag hashtag سعوديات_يعلن_مقاطعه_اوبر# (Saudi women announce Uber boycott) gained traction, and women posted pictures showing them deleting Uber apps from their phones.

Uber has operated in Riyadh? since 2014, and along with another service, Careem, is popular with Saudi women, who have sought the right to drive for more than two decades. They are forced to pay chauffeurs, most of them foreigners, or rely on male members of the family to drive them.

“They’re investing in our pain, in our suffering,” Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s historian who teaches at Qatar University, said in an interview from Doha. “This institutionalizes women’s inferiority and dependency, and it turns women into an object of investment.”

Sounds like a chance to rake in the cash!

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