Adapt, or perish. Mr. Schifter chose the latter. It was dramatic, but was it effective?
As a business, when the market–NO–when the PUBLIC speaks(your customers)…YOU LISTEN. YOU ADJUST and SERVE. That’s if you want to stay in business.
Of course, the liberal media will glom onto the “race to the bottom” narrative and completely not address the real, over-arching socio-economical issue here. Name another industry that has faced this kind of massive paradigm shift. ???………….I’ll give you two, actually. The record industry and the newspaper industry. Note that neither of these industries chose mass suicide as the remedy to their new economic position. And those already in this industry who shifted with it or out of it, are either doing well or at least surviving. Which is more than we can say for Mr. Schifter. Heck, in the case of the record industry, some are even doing better. Just look at the billions of dollars in production costs saved by not having to producing as many physical CDs and packaging. Suicide, in any situation is a big loser’s cop-out. You’re basically admitting that you don’t have what it takes to make it. It’s the very definition of the self-fulfilling prophecy of a self unfulfilled.
Never before in the course of human history have so many industries been touched, adversely or auspiciously by the seemingly cold hand of technology. In fact, technology is the sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter fruit of our biological evolution, and as so, is as immutable and unconcerned with what we want and prefer as the universe itself.
So to portray those who follow it’s charge and benefit from its fruits as a result of serving market trends(read: “what the public wants”) as just simply villainous or unethical capitalists, is to be luddite. The lion’s share of technologies ever created have eventually given-way to objectively better ones over the course of human history. And will continue to do so. To have prevented the adoption of any one of them may have altered the course of human history and, more importantly, human progress. Not to say that progress is always objectively good, but one would be hard-pressed to argue against technological improvements in the field of medicine.
At 18:00 of this segment of the February 7th, 2018 installment of Democracy Now, program Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Driver’s Alliance states: “There is no alternative for them”. Well, she could argue that there is no specific alternative that will keep New York taxi drivers’ employed in a similar capacity, doing the same work, for commensurate pay, but she CAN NOT argue that there just simply are no alternatives for people whose line of work isn’t as lucrative is it once was, because THERE ARE other lines of work. (see the eggs in a basket analogy below). One of the most basic laws of the universe is adaptation. He who does not adapt, does not go on.
Now whatever you think about companies like companies like Über and Lyft’s attitude to the existing labor laws, you have to admit that they are only responding to the market. Which begs the question, why didn’t the taxi industry see this coming? And wy didn’t they adapt when they saw it changing? Because what does the market respond to? The market responds to what people want. Whether it be technologically driven or not. One cannot sell a product to someone who does not want to buy it. Period. Or in the case of citizen-sourced ride-sharing, a more affordable alternative to the product with minimal differentiation in the experience of using the product. A new product with a negligible difference from an older more expensive product will outsell the old product every time.
SO what’s the Lesson here? One: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Two: Take precautions that keep your basket in the best shape. Three: Get and stay getting AS MANY and OF AS MANY kinds of good new fresh eggs as you can. This way you don’t fret over losing any one, or even a couple of one particular type of egg.
It’s easy to see the good stockholder’s methodology in the above analogy. It’s not by accident that this is the preferred method for investment.
It’s rather ironic that Mr. Schifter, rest his soul, characterized his situation as “(being) a slave working for chump change”. One could draw almost a direct correlation between Mr. Schifter’s predicament and the slave labor of the south when the Cotton Gin was introduced in 1793. Not to equate Mr. Schifter’s choice of profession with the forced “indentured servitude” of African Americans around the turn of the century in America, but the salient similarities still apply here:
“While it took a single slave about ten hours to separate a single pound of fiber from the seeds, a team of two or three slaves using a cotton gin could produce around fifty pounds of cotton in just one day. The number of slaves rose in concert with the increase in cotton production, increasing from around 700,000 in 1790 to around 3.2 million in 1850. By 1860, black slave labor from the American South was providing two-thirds of the world’s supply of cotton, and up to 80% of the crucial British market. The cotton gin thus “transformed cotton as a crop and the American South into the globe’s first agricultural powerhouse”.
As a business, when the public speaks, YOU LISTEN, YOU ADJUST and YOU SERVE. That’s if you want to stay in business. Though, you may have to innovate and diversify and accept less of a profit. If not, there ARE alternatives. Adapt.