Open thread for night owls: Koch Bros. and Uber want to demolish public transit

Chip Gibbons at In These Times writes—What Uber and the Koch Brothers Have in Common: A Plan to Destroy Public Transit:

At first glance, the rideshare corporation Uber couldn’t appear more different than conservative oil-mogul billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch. Uber has hired numerous former Democratic Party campaign managers and lobbyists and the company’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has publicly criticized the Trump administration, including over the travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries. The Kochs, meanwhile, have gained a reputation for bankrolling the Republican Party.

Yet Uber—the Silicon Valley startup-gone-public—shares at least one goal with the most prominent funders of modern conservatism: the destruction of America’s public transit.

While polarization in the United States is on the rise when it comes to metrics like party affiliation and media consumption, there’s a frightening level of agreement in corporate America, regardless of party loyalty. Examining where both Uber and the Koch brothers agree exposes the consensus hiding beneath the surface of our current political gridlock. Yes, rideshare corporations and oil tycoons share a financial interest in a car-centric future. But both also lobby for corporate tax cuts, deregulation and fewer rights and protections for workers. Both also envision a society with weakened or nonexistent public goods, part of a 40-year privatization trend that’s touched everything from public education to water access. From this vantage point, government is, in fact, getting things done and solving problems—just for corporate America rather than poor and working people.

A close look at the growing war on public transit reveals the planks of this corporate consensus.

In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Uber’s executives claim to see a “massive market opportunity” in the estimated 4.4 trillion miles traveled each year by people using public transit across 175 countries. The company continues to heavily subsidize per-ride costs to inflate its value to investors and undercut existing options, despite bleeding billions of dollars. “Uber is effectively a middleman for a money transfer from venture-capital (VC) firms to consumers,” writes James P. Sutton in National Review. Simply put, effectively supplanting the taxi industry wasn’t enough: Uber plans on undercutting public transit to finally turn a profit.

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At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—The Many Democratic Parties: 

It is no secret that I am a proponent of a politics of contrast for Dems, a Lincoln 1860 strategy. I am also a proponent of a Big Tent Dem Party. Are these two ideas mutually exclusive? I think not.

For example, while I am skeptical of a short-term strategy that can deliver significant wins for Dems in the South, the medium- and long-term offer opportunities. But I think they come from the devolution strategy that Howard Dean is trying to execute, creating strong state Democratic parties that control their own local message. National branding still requires a national message and, more importantly, negative branding of the Republicans. […] [W]e can win in PURPLE states. We can find a message that works in purple AND blue. And, to be frank, it is basically a negative message about the extremists that run the GOP. It is Lincoln 1860.

But that is not to say that multiple local messages are not also necessary. 

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin notes Trump‘s sailing against headwinds, because suburbs & women. Also: racism. Trump denies blame for violence, but dozens of cases cite him as motive. What was that thing the Russians blew up? What put the Moscow in “Moscow Mitch?”

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