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Friday, July 24, 2015

Entrepreneurial Statism

There’s no reason statism can’t be an entrepreneurial activity

The Uber driver who got designated as an “employee” by the California Labor Commission (even though she signed an agreement as an independent contractor) is starting a school to teach others how to use the state to coerce more money from companies like Uber and Lyft.

Barbara Ann Berwick drove with Uber for less than two months before quitting and later filing a case against the company with the state Labor Commission. She was awarded over $4,000 for expenses she incurred during her time as an “employee” of Uber.

Business Insider reports:

Berwick delivered a potentially huge blow to Uber when she was declared an employee, not an independent contractor, by the California Labor Commission in June.

She was awarded more than $4,000 for her employee expenses from the ride-hailing company.

Now she wants to teach other drivers how to do the same.

Berwick’s Rideshare School launched Tuesday and promises to teach “drivers from ridesharing services how to enforce their rights as employees and reclaim funds for driving expenses, overtime, and more.”

Berwick will charge $50 for the three-hour class, and will hold it twice a week at her home in San Francisco.

How is Berwick qualified to teach people to do this? Well,

because she’s a “seasoned litigator.” A search for her name returns 26 cases in San Francisco courts alone, and she can recite the address of the labor commission off the top of her head.

One wonders what the subjects of all those cases were. How many people find themselves involved in even a couple lawsuits in a lifetime? It’s hard to imagine it’s just bad luck. And how did she find time to do anything else — like, for instance, run her own business using independent contractors?

But she does seem to have the state’s regulatory apparatus pretty well wired. Now she’s going to teach others (for fun and profit) how to exploit the regulatory doctrine she helped invent to drive ridesharing companies in California into the ground.

There’s no reason statism can’t be an entrepreneurial activity, but, to say the least, it is an unusual career choice.

  • Daniel Bier is the executive editor of The Skeptical Libertarian.