The Boston Globe has the first of a three article series on taxi drivers in Boston. It’s probably what you expect, the owners are doing quite well but the actual drivers are not:

For the owners, there’s a steady stream of money, a vast amount of it cash. For each cab an owner rents for two shifts a day, 300 days a year, he earns about $60,000 annually.

“Regardless of how busy a day it is, regardless of how the work is . . . or whether there’s not enough passengers out there, [the owner] knows he’s going to get that shift fee from every driver, every 12 hours, rain, shine, whatever,’’ said attorney Shannon E. Liss-Riordan,  who has filed a class-action lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court challenging the independent contractor system.

In sharp contrast, it is not uncommon for drivers to spend nearly half their work day earning just enough money to break even. Some days they can’t even do that. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics puts an average Boston cabbie’s income at $27,000, just slightly lower than the city’s own estimate. With drivers often on the road for 60 hours a week or more, it can amount to minimum wage work — or less than that. Some sleep in their cars during shifts, or work 24 hours straight in what the drivers call “iron shifts.”

It’s an indictment of the current system and yet this is what caught my attention:

“It’s entirely run for the owners’ benefits,’’ said Edward Rogoff, a professor of management at Baruch College in New York who has studied the taxi industry for years. “The question is: Who does the system work for? And it works for these medallion owners. It’s a socialist system. It’s like Russian oligarchs.’’

This is the classic capitalist set-up where the people with money have all the power while the workers have none and so have to fight to make a living. I really don’t understand how Rogoff can believe this is socialist. And doesn’t he know that the Russian oligarchs came into being as the communist system was ending when the US and IMF pushed through privatization and shock therapy. The quick transfer of enterprises to private owners made some of them very rich, these are the Russian oligarchs–thus the oligarchs came into being when Russia stopped being communist.

Anyway, this is an important article–the type of muckraking article that’s needed to show how modern capitalists rig the system.

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