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The Almighty Buck Transportation

Senior Citizens Hit the Road For Uber 214

HughPickens.com writes: Elizabeth Olsen writes at the NYT that a growing number of older Americans are driving for Uber or its competitor Lyft to augment their retirement income. Older drivers are prized because they usually own their own cars, have adequate auto insurance and, according to insurance statistics, have fewer crashes. For most senior drivers, the biggest advantage is the extra income. Many of those who continue working after 65 do so because they would be too poor otherwise, according to a new report from the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute that found the current retirement system inadequate. But driving for a ride-booking service, some retirees said, also can offer more than money. For George Cameron, a 65-year-old former marine in Mechanicsville, Virginia, retirement was not all it cracked up to be. Chiefly, it was dull. "Although I've got a few community things I'm involved in," says Cameron, "I sit at home and listen to the news. And my wife says I'm getting too close to the dog."

Some drivers say it is a great chance to be independent and earn extra cash on their own schedule. Retirees are insulated from many of the shortcomings of the gig economy. But critics say Uber vastly exaggerates the amount of money a driver can make driving full-time. Its workers are contractors, and don't receive benefits. As with most gig economy work, there's no such thing as a career path. But many seniors don't need (second) careers. Not all of them need full-time work. Forty million of them already have health insurance through Medicare. Some say it is exploitation of older people who work as independent contractors, without any benefits, because their age means they have a harder time finding full-time employment. "You have to work close to 50 hours a week to survive," says Musse Bahta who says he has to spend more time on the road since Uber lowered the per-mile fare to $1.35.
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Senior Citizens Hit the Road For Uber

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  • I guess even an older man has certain needs...

  • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @07:38PM (#51358741)

    Some say it is exploitation of older people who work as independent contractors, without any benefits, because their age means they have a harder time finding full-time employment.

    Why can't a thing just be for some money on the side, or something one does to keep active, or prevent boredom? Why is it that every arrangement between two people that even remotely has the possibility of money changing hands must be a viable way to support a spouse and two children? Why is there always a crowd of people who think there should be no middle ground between volunteer work and a full-time job with a "living wage" as they like to call it? This is a perfect example of why there should be such a middle ground, without this BS about exploitation and victimization that always creeps in to these discussions.

    • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @07:48PM (#51358787)
      My retired father used to have a modest recycling operation that ran next to his trailer home. He would help a neighbor dismantle old vending machines to avoid expensive county dump fees, cleaning up and providing free wood for a retired neighbor to build chicken coops for sale and separating the metals to take to the recycling center. That's how he spent his free time and made $50 a month at the recycling center. Someone complained to the county and the county wasn't thrilled that someone was circumventing those expensive dump fees. So he was ordered to cease operations or face prosecution for running an illegal business from home.
      • Yeah, and I wanted to put a urinal in the stairwell of my parking garage.

        No dice - couldn't get a permit. Not ADA compliant because of the stairs, didn't pass health because no dividers, and there wasn't a sit-down for the ladies.

        So, no urinal.

        The bums still piss in the stairwell, however.
    • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @07:49PM (#51358789)

      Yeah, the "exploitation of older people" is such a bizarre argument that ignores everything else in the summary. After all, retirees are looking for part time work to augment their income. They don't need medical insurance, they don't need a 401K, they don't need paid vacation, they need a little extra $ in their pockets. The statement that giving a retiree exactly what he wants is "exploiting" him is absurd.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @08:21PM (#51358897)

        It's not about what he wants. It's what they think he should have.

        • by murdocj ( 543661 )

          No, it's what he wants... a part time job to supply some extra cash.

          • No, it's what other people think that they should have. The Seniors are working for Uber because it makes sense for them, and maximizes what they desire.

            Meanwhile, people think Uber are 'exploiting' Seniors because of 'reasons', such as not providing healthcare(already covered), doesn't have advancement(do seniors really need that?), etc...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        here we have class of people who have, for the most part, worked hard their entire lives.

        and they have shit. social security, medicare, and its not enough. no one will hire them.

        except a company that rewards them $50 after a 10 hour day driving hipster assholes from A to B

        you can call that a fair market trade if you want. i think its inhumane.

        • You call it inhumane, I call it sad but natural. Outside of a very few cases of sheer bad luck, I have yet to encounter a sad story that doesn't involve bad decisionmaking at some point leading up to it. Government isn't there to insulate you from the consequences of your own decisions, good or bad.
        • by Kohath ( 38547 )

          $50 a day easily pays for food and rent and other expenses by itself. Add the average monthly social security check ($1180) to that and you get more than $2000/month take home pay. That's not wealth, but it's not poverty either.

          I think its inhumane.

          You should have more respect for people who work. They could be sitting at home doing nothing, collecting a check for helping no one. Instead they're helping people get where they need to go, and they're paying their own way in the process. Working helps your fellow man -- that'

          • Instead they're helping people get where they need to go, and they're paying their own way in the process. Working helps your fellow man -- that's why he's glad to pay you for your work. It's good.


            People seem to overlook the fact that when a voluntary trade happens that there are always two winners. Before any discussion happens it should be acknowledged that any interference has dubious utility, given that its hard to imagine society doing better than two winners through their interference.

        • Company paying a person for their work that both parties agree to voluntarily is 'inhumane'? Government using force this steal from one person to subsidise another is 'humane' though, right? Your logic is .... Well, you are surely a Sanders voter.

    • Why is it that every arrangement between two people that even remotely has the possibility of money changing hands must be a viable way to support a spouse and two children?

      Even the majority of the ghettos and Appalachia enjoy a standard of living that, by historic standards, is not poor. The average poor person in the industrialized world is considered a victim primarily because they don't have opportunities for leisure and middle class goods and services, not because they are living on the razor's edge.


    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @08:21PM (#51358899)
      but that doesn't mean there isn't one. There are lots and lots of people who just want to stop working at the age of 65. There are lots of people we really _need_ to stop working at the age of 65.

      The other problem is what these people do to wages. It's funny how discussions about supply and demand go out the window when we talk about wages and standard of living going _down_. The phrase you're looking for is "The hollowing out of the middle class". They're driving down wages for drivers, which in turn means folks who might have been happy making a modest living driving are now desperately trying to find a career that pays them enough for food/rent. A few of 'em make it in other professions, like computer tech. Then the computer tech's wages go down and a few of those end up pushed into becoming programmers and systems analysts, driving down those wages. Here's another good phrase: "Race to the bottom".

      This isn't the sharing economy. It's not the gig economy. It's the same old song and dance that happens when there's an over supply of labor without social programs to compensate. If you're one of the winners, bully for you. You got yours, fuck me (another popular phrase). But it's a winner take all economy. Like a lottery. Statistically if you're reading this you're not winning.
      • If there's an "oversupply of labor" (and I agree with you that there is, right now), the *solution* is to increase the number of jobs. The idea that "more social programs" is the correct counter-balance is part of why we can't seem to get out nation back out of this mess!

        • Except there is no oversupply of labor either. There is an undersupply. The H1B program proves it.
          • H1B programs, Mexican and Central American immigrants (both legal and not) coming to work the fields of California and the poultry factories of Oklahoma, unfilled openings for skilled machinists and welders in "rust belt" places like central Massachusetts, ads for entry-level and non-entry-level software and non-software engineers on the subway in Boston and NYC. At some point oil will pick up in North Dakota again, maybe next year, almost certainly within the next ten.

            There's work for everyone at any le
            • So you think it's right that people should have to move across the country from their family support structure? If there is anything this country should be trying to protect people from, that is it. Children that grow up with extended family around them are much better off.
              • I actually do think it's OK. I did it. My parents did it, and so did half of my extended family, and nearly all of my wife's family. My friends did it. My co-workers did it. Aforementioned immigrants do it.

                Do I think it would be nice to have that cushy job and stay close to roots? Of course. But there's really something much, much, much more wrong with a large number of job openings in City X and a large number of unemployed in City Y refusing to take them.
                • Well now we know why everyone in the US is so fucked up.
                  • Are you referring to the people who moved and got jobs or the people who demanded the jobs come to them and are collecting welfare?
                    • Ah yes because everyone who doesn't move MUST be collecting welfare. Interesting reality there.
                    • Interesting reality there.

                      Quite. It's called the real world, where you're either employed, unemployed and supported by someone who is, unemployed and not supported by someone who is, or independently wealthy.

                    • You missed out under-employed and screwed every which way.
                    • It's also not natural to live in constructed shelters, have written language, or live past 30, in historical terms, that is. I think I'll take my way over yours.
                    • by Flozzin ( 626330 )

                      One role of government is to provide its citizens with quality of life.

                      Well, maybe your ideal government does this. Mine protects me, but mostly stays out of my way. The US government was never set up to function like how you want it. It would need an overhaul, and really, it needs one anyway.

                    • Bur what are you doing to be 'worthy' of protection? You're certainly not protecting (or caring) about anyone else. This isn't just about paying taxes. This is about how societies treat others within them.
                • by mishehu ( 712452 )
                  I think Weird Al wrote a song about you... It's called "When I Was Your Age"... You did it and your family did it, and everything's peachy keen and there was never any opportunity cost to any decision made so it must be fitting for everybody in this country, or else they're lazy people scampering away from the Langoliers... Now are we going to get with the program and be a part of the Big Picture?
    • Fine, then limit it to 10 hours a week, because it is just a hobby.
      • I a problem with telling people how much time they are or are not allowed to spend doing something for no reason other than to satisfy one person's idea of how things should be.
      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Because arresting someone who works 12 hours instead of 10 prevents victimization? What if they work 14 hours? Chop off a hand?

        Why not just mind your own business instead?

        • I didn't say arrest them. Just turn off their account, for crying out loud. This is a technology company and not a taxi company, AFTER ALL.
          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            What if they don't want their account turned off? Someone's going to have to be arrested sometime if you want people to be forced to obey your rules rather than allowing them to make their own choices about their own lives.

            Or you could just learn to mind your own business, and then no one needs to get arrested, and people can work or not as they wish.

            • You know what, sometimes in life people have things done to them that they don't want for the sake of others. For example, I can't walk into a restaurant and start spitting into every one's food. It's called civilization.
              • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                You know what, sometimes in life people have things done to them that they don't want for the sake of others. For example, I can't walk into a restaurant and start spitting into every one's food. It's called civilization.

                Civilization is about arresting someone who spits in other people's food. Civilization is NOT about arresting someone for ordering extra mayo on their sandwich because you think mayo is yucky.

                Arresting someone for bullying the innocent is NOT the same as using the police to bully innocent people. Stop bullying innocent people.

                • Well that depends on whether society has got together and decided as one whether mayo should be outlawed or not. All I am saying is I am one person putting his hand up and saying that there should be laws regulating Uber. I am not saying these judgments I am making should be enforced because I alone think them. I'm willing to hold it to a vote. YOU are the ones saying that it should not be voted on, that anyone should be able to do anything they want if it is physically possible. I'm saying that isn't
            • Besides, I've been told that the uber system is flawless. That every driver has a picture and every stat about them, and they have a rating that is accurate and there is no way around it. and it's all for the good of the children.

              You know what, you sound like the type that supports the occupation in Oregon. People should just be able to burn 140 acre fires wherever they hell want and not be punished. Public land is every one's land, so if you want to take a building on it then you should be able to.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Because we must all understand that we need government micromanagement of everything everyone does, all the time, or else one of the bogeymen will victimize someone. It's people like you who make us all vulnerable to devastating predation by bogeymen.

    • It's the worst in financial papers that always have the need to explain a dip or rise in the market. Most times they just end up tying the move to some thing that sounds plausible but in all livelihood is just a shot in the dark.

  • and it there is a crash they can lose it all as there auto insurance will say that we don't cover uber drivers and you are on your own.

    • Or, ya know, you can call up your insurance company and get a policy that covers using your car for business and pay a little extra each month so you don't have to worry about exactly that.

      Not everything needs to be run like a chickenshit operation. You're allowed to cross your t's and dot your i's like a real boy.
      • And when I am a passenger getting into an Uber car, I can tell the people who are properly insured versus the ones that aren't...... how exactly?
        • Well, you can vote for officials who'll impose an insurance minimum on ride-sharing companies, but that's really beside the point since we were talking about the driver's liability in the event of a crash and not the passenger's. Try to follow along.
          • Existing laws probably cover that already. A driver has to be properly insured by law in most countries. If they take paying passengers, and their insurance doesn't allow this, they're not properly insured and for that reason in breach of the law.

            Uber protects at least the passenger by providing a back-up insurance when the driver has a passenger in the car. However that apparently doesn't cover the time the Uber driver is active as driver, but not carrying a passenger - e.g. when on the way to a pick-up -

  • by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @07:50PM (#51358797) Homepage Journal

    1. No sick days (I'm sick? Meh?)
    2. No vacation (Every day is a vacation day.)
    3. No holidays off (Yup, no MLK day off. I'm already home.)
    4. No "medical benefits" since I get Medicare anyway.*
    5. No FICA taken from my paycheck. (They send ME a check.)
    6. No "retirement" (Well, actually, I AM retired.)
    7. No committee meetings to discuss strategic plans.
    8. No free coffee.
    9. No office parties.
    10. No boss.

    So if I choose to work for Uber, I don't NEED no steenking benefits. I work when I want, pick up a few bucks. End of story. Please don't cry for me. I do not need your sympathy.

    *Medicare doesn't pay everything, 'tis true. So?

    • Don't forget:

      11. No kids on the lawn.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @08:31PM (#51358925)

      A friend of mine's dad retired with a good pension. He didn't really need any money but he got bored and wanted to maybe have a little more play money so he took a job doing equipment maintenance at a local potato chip (Frito Lay) plant. He liked it okay and he was actually making more money than he had before he retired. Being good at his job they started putting more and more on him and he was working almost every weekend overtime. His daughter was getting married so he told them he needed Saturday off for the wedding and they said no problem but then the day before the wedding they asked him if he could come in to work and then leave 2 hours before the wedding. He told them he didn't really need the job and he was working way more than he wanted anyway, so he quit.

  • I'm glad they finally started calling it what it is- a ride-booking service. This entire it is ride sharing even though the concept of paying for a ride counters the sharing was sort of driving me nuts.

    As for the seniors, more power to them. Just watch how much you earn else it starts detracting from your social security payments. At least talk with someone and plan out if that would be beneficial or not for you. There is a record seeing how most this is done through a third party so not reporting the incom

    • I don't think they can take away from your benefits if you are retired (as opposed to disability). I've worked with a couple of people who were retired and I'm sure they were bringing home over $100k (their pre-retirement salary) in addition to SS and one or two pensions.

      "I'm a triple dipper" joked one guy I worked with, and that wasn't including hat he was making part time at the company. Sadly for him it didn't last long.

      • I just looked into it a bit more. It appears that you can start drawing your social security before you reach full retirement age (62) which is where the deductions come from. After you reach 67 or whatever the age is (depending on when you were born), there is no limit or reduction. I just remembered my father being concerned about that and didn't realize it was only if you take benefits early.

        http://money.usnews.com/money/... [usnews.com]

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @09:03PM (#51359069)
    Will my Uber driver's profile indicate whether my driver can see to the end of the hood or not, before I get in the vehicle?
    • This is an unfair generalization about seniors. I happen to be a senior, and when my eyesight started to deteriorate I voluntarily stopped driving because I didn't want to get hurt or hurt someone else. I am by far not the only one to be responsible about this.

      • I'm very sorry if I have offended you in any way. It's just that my grandfather had very bad cataracts, and no one wanted to drive with him because he was almost running people over. It took the entire family to fight him in court to have his license taken away. I have another relative who made the same responsible choice as you, and it is a very wise one. I did not mean to make a generalization about senior drivers, I was merely speaking from personal experience.
        • When I developed cataracts, I was seriously considering stopping driving at night. Then, they ripened enough to be removed. Not only did my night vision come back, I went from being intensely nearsighted to being slightly farsighted and night driving isn't an issue any longer. From what you write, it's a shame that this wasn't an option for your grandfather.
          • I was very young when this all happened and I can't really say how it all went down. I just remember that it was a big problem. There was a lot of stubbornness and toxic personalities thrown into the mix and I'm sure it wasn't dealt with in a totally rational way.

            But the point is, now we are giving these people a financial incentive to keep driving, it will happen.
    • Will my Uber driver's profile indicate whether my driver can see to the end of the hood or not, before I get in the vehicle?

      Yes, quick answer is "every driver". Being able to see the end of the hood is a pre-requisite for having a driver's license which is something that Uber checks before signing up drivers.

      • Haha... They ask me if I need glasses every year, that's it. That's the test. I had one eye test when I got my license at 16 and that was it.
        • How old are you? After a certain age in my state you need medical clearance for a driver's license. Heck I'm in my 30s and I had to get a medical form.

          • I'm well above 30. Well above.

            You people supporting Uber are all over the place. You don't trust the government to regulate taxis, but you do trust them to test the health and fitness of drivers and the safety of vehicles. Make up your mind.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @11:54PM (#51359601)

    Older drivers are prized because they usually own their own cars, have adequate auto insurance and, according to insurance statistics, have fewer crashes.

    Fewer crashes because they are on the road less often?

    Male drivers 65+ average 10,000 miles on the road a year. That is about 9,000 miles less than males aged 35-54. Average Annual Miles per Driver by Age Group [dot.gov] [Feb 2015]

    • Bottom line is insurance rates. Teens and 20 somethings are high. Seniors are low, I've been driving for 50 years and have seen everything. You haven't.

      Deal with it.

    • Fewer crashes because they are on the road less often?

      Oh do not look at things so narrow mindedly. This is an incredibly complex topic requiring comparing many stats in many different ways. Such as looking at the population health distribution, the driving times, the risk patterns (CDC actually gives several glowing report on older drivers who are far less likely to take any kind of risk, including knowing when they are impaired or when conditions are dangerous, the same article also mentioned the risks only start getting high at 85 years+, only a good 20 year

  • Few people in any industry have career paths any more, and the further time marches on the more that becomes the case. In the US we have convinced ourselves that putting power in the hands of the employers is the right thing to do, and we keep making that choice every time we get a chance. If it means most people born after 1960 won't ever get to retire the way their parents did, so be it.
    • Keep believing that and you won't ever have a career path or retirement.

      • And a career will come just from belief that one is out there?

        The simple fact is that companies seldom hire for career positions any more. The very notion of career is quickly becoming obsolete. Companies expect to be able to treat employees as a disposable commodity, because we have allowed them to do so for some time now. When most of the workers are barely scraping by, their ability to save money for retirement is plummeting as well.
  • Does that " adequate auto insurance" work for a commercial driver? Does that cost less than what a traditional taxi driver pays?

    Just one of the many ways Uber/Lyft sidesteps 'the rules'.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein