Sunday, April 10, 2011

Are We in Kansas, San Francisco, Or New York? The Colonization of San Francisco. By Cee Jay.

Cee Jay is a San Francisco taxi driver.

I wish to point out a number of fallacies about the use of bankcards being issued to San Francisco taxi drivers by the City’s taxi companies. 

Along the way, remember that our interest as drivers is first that of our own survival and then the company, not the reverse. Others may wish to convey that we as drivers, the City, and then the companies all have the same to lose or to gain. Were this so, wouldn’t we all have an equal amount of power in decision-making? 

Now let’s take the case of the bankcards that are being foisted upon us.  It is clear that we, the drivers, have the most to lose. For oftentimes these kinds of false assumptions belie moves that end up depriving even more so of the already us the already low amount that we earn.

Now, where are drivers in our top down system of taxi operations?  In this triad of driver, City, and company, each of the drivers actually stands alone, for or against the City, and their respective companies.  In other words, it’s saga of many ‘Davids’ usually against the duopoly of two gigantic ‘Golaiths’.  How any one could possibly see the balance of power any differently is quite astonishing, especially in this hard core capitalistic world in which we live.

Ever wondered why San Francisco, with respect to cabs, is always compared to New York City, even though it is immensely smaller?  The difference in the sizes of each city is the first fallacy in comparing the two together.  With respect to cabs, New York City has vast amounts more carrying capacity than San Francisco. Remember, too, that New York is a City that never sleeps.  In San Francisco, one sleeps, as cultivated, and civilized folks should.

Obviously this isn’t true for the drivers, who drive full-time and don’t sleep.  Or if they do sleep, that’s essentially all they do before they’re back to driving again.  But this is not true for the owners, and managers and city workers (people with real jobs).  They sleep.   Maybe they don’t know New York as well as they should because they’re too busy catching forty winks. Or is there some other, more rational, reason for wishing the two cities to be the same? I think so.

What I wish is for us to expand our minds and recognize the importance of not comparing New York to San Francisco.  Rumor has it that San Francisco was in fact created for New Yorkers, for them to have a place to go to sleep. There are times when, no matter how much one drives, hopes, wishes, or prays for rain, or passengers jumping into the boat and out, it ain’t going to happen. This is because of one simple reason: the fish ain’t there, because this is San Francisco, folks, alas, ain’t no New York (accent imagined), and will never be New York.  Sorry about that.

With this bankcard business, before you are hell bound to go along with it, sit down and ask yourself what’s actually in this for you, and for you and your passengers.  And where’s the true value? And then, ask not, what’s in it for the Goliaths.   I assure you they are big and bad enough to get along without you. 

Now, while you’re set in this classical pose of Rodin’s, “Thinker”, ask yourself some other questions, as they may ask in New York. You might ask yourself, ‘Self, what is a kickback?’  You might also need to revisit, this old classic:

Why, or why God (any god of your choosing), are limousines allowed to take my airport trips from the hotels? This, Lord, when I have children to clothe and to feed?

Can you imagine how much earnings that at least one of the Goliaths, the City, is depriving us of already, which as it seems to me, is obviously and patently illegal?

Who isn’t humiliated when a usually middle-aged adult male waits near a hotel doorman, many of them yelling at you to get lost, this after waiting and waiting, patiently, for hours and hours without end. No wonder why so many have so little respect for cab drivers.

Again you might also reflect here on the New York effect. For there are now more billionaires living in California than in New York. Perhaps among them are the very same damn Yankees (Forgive me lord, for I could not help myself) who are too good to pay their fair share of taxes.  However, they’re not too good to have their banking industry demand of you 5% for every swipe. Don’t forget, with the use of the bankcards big business and government can now better map on not only your earnings, but also your activities, without your consent!!! 

And since money, unlike people in one location, never sleeps while they hold it for you in their private lock box, in the meantime, they earn God knows how much interest over time.  And, because of the certainty of the cash flow, they leverage this for gains in the markets, because of the certainty of their income.

However speculative, one thing is quite clear, the issue is POWER, which in principle, is already ours because of the direct contact with the passengers/and voters.  But it is being usurped.

Passenger access to paying without your input, places you at a distance from them. They are free, for example, to tip or not to tip.  Most likely they will tip less. They have the controls. They are free, ever the more, to completely ignore you, and their surroundings.

Remember, ours, above all, is a service business. The more contact we have, the better the pay.

Now that it’s established that San Francisco is something other than New York, your earnings with the bankcards are going down along with your self-respect.  But before there was a decision made by the two Goliaths, wouldn’t it have been grand to first attempt to determine how much you’d stand to lose?

Whatever one might think, 5% on each bankcard swipe means a major reduction in your earnings.  And has been implemented with apparently no consideration whatsoever about what will become of your families.  Don’t think about yourself alone.

We really need to ask ourselves before it’s too late, (is it?), really what are these bankcards all about? On the one hand, we’re considered self-employed, while, on the other, were treated like employees (we are told what to do), but receive no such benefits as employees.  I don’t know about you, but I smell skunk.

It’s better to be either one or the other (1) an employee, and better to be one of the City of San Francisco, like other Muni workers, or (2) a true business.

Were we true businesses we would, and should, call our own shots, for example, whether or not it’s in our best interests, financial or otherwise, to take bank cards. Why should we make banks, and other foreigners, even more the richer at our own expense?  Not only will we suffer, but also our respective (wives/partners), dependents, our precious children, and so on.

If I were you folks, I would fight to reverse the increasing use of bankcards, until such time as a decision is reached more accurately as to whether or not we are being treated as employees.  That is where it seems all of this is headed. 

If we are business owners, what is our business needs to remain ours.

Paying a third party to seize control of your earnings, without a fight, is absolutely insane.  Sure some passengers will insist on using the bankcard. But, I bet you ten to one, that many, once they learn how you’re being forced to pay more (just to get paid like this), together with all the hoops involved, when gas is going up, and everything else, they will side with you. There’s no way anyone can say that more money will be generated without San Francisco increasing it’s population by ten-fold or whatever, to offset the 5% take on each swipe.

Where I’m from folks, they have a fancy word for what’s being done to you, and it’s called THEFT.

Money doesn’t trickle down… it trickles up. Take yours off the top. My suggestion is take the cash when it’s possible. Besides, the entire world of working folks will better off for it.  In the meantime, take a stand, have a plan. Unite!!!

Cee Jay

1 comment:

  1. Writing to meet deadline on my time is a strecth. Forgive me for commenting on my post.Could I have been clearer? Sure. and the piece better edited on my part. Sure. However, listen folks, for those who have to pay for the taxi ride, 'What comes around, goes around.' When prices go up for us adjustments must be to balance the ledger. What of this amount will come from the end-users? Since we all must somehow pay some share of the increase, this is why it's important for the public to speak up. The revenue generated by cabbies varies
    greatly. However, to be sure, 5%, for financiers that I've met in S.F., upon learning of this 5% demand are left speechless. One percent, a percent and a half maybe, but 5$. They don't know what to make of it. Most seem convinced that someone is taking more than is necessary.


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