Saturday, October 21, 2017

Uncle Block's Bullshit Detection Service - Week in Review

This weeks edition is titled,

Breaking Wind

October 22, 2017.


  • Uber Drivers are being ripped off
  • Road Vandalism Leading to Traffic Chaos, Delays
  • Hamilton Bürgermeister Drug Connection

Uber Drivers are Being Ripped Off

What else is new?

Some would argue that the Uber phenomenon is how "free markets" work. I have dealt extensively with the spurious "free market" arguments in defence of Uber elsewhere so I will not re-hash them here.

What we have now, and Hamilton, Ontario, is a perfect example of this, a regulated market in which the rules have been changed to tilt the playing field in favour of profits for Uber and its wealthy investors.

The govenment of Hamilton has created a two-tiered taxi regulatory system. One set of rules for Uber. Another set of rules for everyone else.

From the beginning, I have stated that I would never drive a cab for Uber. Not only was I, perhaps, the only Uber applicant in Ontario that did not receive a "welcome" message from Uber, they even blocked me on Twitter.

I guess they didn't want other people to see what I had to say about them.

There has been a lot of debate amongst the non-exempt taxi drivers who queue up at Hamilton's Bus Terminal for fares, only to sit idle for hours at a time, while the Uber taxi company whizzes in and out scooping up the business they once had.

The debate often centers around whether Uber drivers are actually making any money by converting "assets they already own" (in Tim Hudak's famous words,) into cash. (the so-called, "sharing economy." I call it the "garage sale" economy.)

Think about it. The same slogan could be used by any pawn shop.

And while it might not be a bad idea to rent out your driveway while you are not using it, using your own car as a taxicab actually incurs costs. Significant costs.

As part of my exploration of the Uber phenomenon I have tried to put numbers around Uber driver earnings to determine whether they are actually making any money, as opposed to being treated as total suckers.

My tentative conclusion, up to this point, is that Uber drivers are being screwed. And they are not being screwed by Uber as much as they are being screwed by the politicians who caved in to Uber's demands for a two-tiered taxi bylaw system that is skewed in favour of Uber..

I have thrown some numbers together, based upon Uber's own published tarrif rate for Hamilton, Ontario.

Per minute $0.15
Per Km.$0.90
Booking fee $2.80
Minimum Fare $5.30
Cancellation fee $5.00

Sample Calculation

An Uber taxi ride from 30 Arkledun to 100 Main St. E.

Distance 1.1 Km

Minimum Fare via Uber

Base Fare $2.50
Booking fee $2.80
Per Km (1.1X.9) $0.99
Total Fare $6.29 not including time

Driver's Share

75% base fare $1.88
75% Km $0.74
Driver earns $2.62

Uber gets $3.67

Actual driver % 42.00%

General Estimates based on Km.

Note: For the purposes of this analysis I exclude any calculations for the $.15 per minute time charges. Therefore, my calculations represent the absolute minimum Uber taxi fare.

Distance (km) Booking fee Base fare Km. charge Total Fare Driver gets Uber gets Actual Driver % Actual Uber %
1 $2.80 $2.50 $0.90 $6.20 $2.55 $3.65 41.13% 58.87%
2 $2.80 $2.50 $1.80 $7.10 $3.23 $3.88 45.42% 54.58%
3 $2.80 $2.50 $2.70 $8.00 $3.90 $4.10 48.75% 51.25%
4 $2.80 $2.50 $3.60 $8.90 $4.58 $4.33 51.40% 48.60%
5 $2.80 $2.50 $4.50 $9.80 $5.25 $4.55 53.57% 46.43%
10 $2.80 $2.50 $9.00 $14.30 $8.63 $5.68 60.31% 39.69%
20 $2.80 $2.50 $18.00 $23.30 $15.38 $7.93 65.99% 34.01%
50 $2.80 $2.50 $45.00 $50.30 $35.63 $14.68 70.83% 29.17%
100 $2.80 $2.50 $90.00 $95.30 $69.38 $25.93 72.80% 27.20%

You have to wonder why so many Uber cabbies are willing to sign on to such a rotten deal.

"We connect riders with drivers," Uber Toronto general manager Ian Black told CTV News. "They're simply using our technology to connect."

Okay. So that explains the $2.80 booking fee. So once connected, where does Uber get off in claiming a further 25% of the drivers earnings?

Clearly, there is something very stinky going on in the land of über alles.

Other Uber News

Sadly, the impact of Hamilton's pro-Uber tilting of the playing field is driving veteran drivers away from the non-exempt taxi sector. Their replacements are just as bad as the Uber drivers. As taxi driver quality ratchets downward, people will perceive Uber as superior.

Why I like taxis better than Uber: Teitel

I give it three to five years before Hamilton's non-exempt taxi brokerages, Hamilton Cab and Blue Line, are reduced to something like Yellow Cab was before it was absorbed.

Uber will have acquired most of the ODSP, hospital, school, and business contracts. I'm surprised they have not already done this.

The non-exempt taxi brokerages will each be reduced to about thirty or forty cabs in their fleets, serving mostly prostitutes, drug adicts, the homeless, the mentally ill, some impecunious seniors and disabled people, and anyone else who lacks a smartphone and "credit card privilege."

The trends are unmistakable. The market has been rigged.

Don't blame Uber. They are just one of many taxi brokerages trying to get one over on the competition. It's always been a cut-throat business.

Blame the politicians for their cowardice, lack of insight, and/or negligence.

Uber should be laughing all the way to the bank.

Parking Problem on Hunter St.

A few years ago, a concerned Hamilton citizen wrote a letter to the Spec. complaining about all of the idle taxis parked at the meters on Hunter St. east of John St.

Of course, as members of the public tend to do, he blamed this annoyance on the taxi drivers, rather than City Hall. Had he been perhaps a little more economically literate, he would have been asking why there was such a vast surplus of taxis in Hamilton, indeed, why were so many cabs sitting idle instead of doing what taxicabs are supposed to be doing.... which is, driving people around?

But it was obvious from the text of his complaint, that he was more like the typical, government-educated, Canadian, who simply reacts to current sensory stimulii, like a cat or a dog or a housefly would, without any questioning of what might have preceded, or caused, this state of affairs.

Anyway, it's somewhat delicious irony to observe of late, that it is not only non-exempt taxicabs that are using up all of the parking spots on Hunter St. E. They have now been joined by a growing number of Uber cabs!

There are almost no spaces left for other members of the public to park.

And of course, you know who will get the blame the next time someone complains? Not the privileged Uber cabs. They are hardly visible, even the few that have the stickers in the windows. Nope. It will be the clearly-marked, non-exempt taxicabs that get the blame.


Uber Now Juicing Drivers Who Bribe Dispatch

For anyone unfamiliar with the terminology, in the taxi business "juicing" is the almost ubiquitous practice whereby dispatchers show favouritism toward certain drivers in the allocation of trip orders. The favoured drivers are unfairly given the more lucrative runs to airports and out of town destinations, while the non-favoured drivers are left with the short grocery trips and fold-up wheelchair, etc. trips that tend to be shorter, more time-consuming runs.

Sometimes the drivers being "juiced" are family, or personal friends of the dispatchers. At other times, the dispatchers will accept bribes in the form of cash, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, (sex?) and such from certain drivers in exchange for the juice.

Well, lo and behold, Uber is now experimenting with embedding the ancient juicing practice into it's alledgedly "innovative" business model.

Meet your new taxi broker, same as the old taxi broker. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Uber asks drivers to pay $115 for a shot at extra Halloween earnings

Also of interest:

From 27 March 2017,

This Uber Story Made James O'Brien "Sick To His Stomach"

Vandals Attack Bay St.

As the week passed, reports started to trickle in about Hamilton's Bay St. The usually smooth-running, One-Way street had been seriously disrupted. Drivers complained of having to stop at every signalled intersection for periods of unnecessary idling, and of drivers honking their horns and yelling at each other in anger. One driver reported seeing a motorist exiting his vehicle to kick an adjacent car. Apparently, vandals had reduced the road to a single passable lane.

I wondered who could be behind this disruption in civilized automobile travel. Could it be ANTIFA? BLM? ISIS?

So I decided to investigate the problem myself. Imagine my surprise to discover that the instigator of all of this chaos and ire were none other than the government of the City of Hamilton.

The worst part of the street is the area adjacent to City Hall. In my minds eye, I can imagine the politicians watching from the windows and snickering amongst themselves as they admire their handiwork. "Look at those freaking idiots. They actually think we are trying to save the planet!"

It reminds me of one of the pranks my friends and I used to pull back when we were about twelve. Garth Street south of Mohawk Road had not yet been paved. Construction had started on the new houses south and west of Mohawk and Garth. We started out by putting these one-by-one strips of wood we found in the work sites across the road. We would hide in the half-built homes and giggle as we watched the south-bound cars drive over these things. When that got boring we resorted to laying two-by-fours across the road, or by blocking the road with those construction barriers with the kerosene lanterns.

We knew that if we got caught, we would have been in deep shit. We might even find ourselves being interogated by the notorious G.L. C**per, the strap-happy warden of the public institutions we were mandated to attend. At the time, it would never have occured to us to argue in our defense that we were merely trying to make Garth Street more "pedestrian friendly" by experimenting with "visionary" "complete streets" ideologies.

I thought of sending an urgent request to our Prime Minister for some disaster relief, but then I realized that he is just another enthusiastic supporter of the whole scam. I realized I would probably have a better chance if I were to Tweet an aid request to @realDonaldTrump.

On Saturday afternoon (Oct. 21, 2017,) I decided to visit the disaster zone to survey the damage. Keep in mind that my report was filmed on a Saturday afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. The situation will, no doubt, be much, much worse during those times when Hamilton's adults are trying to get to work.

Oh, just a last minute thought for you to ponder as you watch the report. Prior to designating the left lane as a "No Driving" area, my habit has always been to shift to the left lane to leave as much room as possible between my car and the cars parked on the right. I felt a slight discomfort as I drove down this road this afternoon, but I did not immediately identify the source of my discomfort,

until now, as I review the video. I wanted to shift into the left lane but could not.

The idea behind this maneuver is to minimize the possibility of hitting a child, or other pedestrian, who might suddenly come darting out from between the parked cars. Now that cars have been banned from using the left lane, this minor safety precaution is no longer available. (This BS is supposed to make the streets safer? Doesn't it really suggest to you that the people behind this BS are really a bunch of bone-heads?)

Here is my report:

Hamilton's Bürgermeister Implicated in Drug Trafficking Ring

A few years ago I was driving an elderly woman home in my taxi. During the ride she said to me, "I didn't know councilor Lloyd Ferguson was in the taxi business!" (EEWWW! - how icky.) I could tell by the tone of her remark that the councilor had been demoted in her mind from his position of prior respectability to something akin to skid row alcoholic covered in vomit as a result of this shocking (to her) revelation.

Today, I can't help but wonder if the nice old lady is still alive, how she would react to the news that Hamilton's Bürgermeister is a kingpin in one of the local drug trafficking rings. I think the news could be fatal to the poor woman.

Breaking Wind


This week's conclusion from Uncle Block's Bullshit Detection Report for the week ending October 21, 2017 is this:

Attention members of the public. Your political representatives are shitting all over you and telling you that you should like the smell.

Gerald Celente distills it:

Some background into the root causes of the rampant removal of road space in Hamilton as part of the continuing effort to de-normalize private vehicle ownership. That is one of the early steps.

Step 2

Denormalize the Western standard of living.


  1. I'm a bit confused? Why can't Blue Line set up the same system as Uber and undercut Uber??

    1. Well, for one thing, if they had tried that BEFORE Uber came along, the city would have shut them down so fast that their heads would spin.


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