Tag Archives: louisiana

Louisiana Case Study of Delivery App Scams

New Orleans        A funny thing happened to platform capitalism and its predatory business model in Louisiana of all places making the experience there a case in point.  Being Louisiana, the fact that somehow booze triggered the revelation almost makes the story too good to be true.

Once upon a time, just minutes ago it seems, there was a Lake Charles, Louisiana based company making waves in the app-delivery space called Waitr.  One of their salespeople, a regular customer at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, or so he claimed, hounded us for a meeting as the company first tried to sign up restaurants in the New Orleans area.  Waitr argued it was different.  It would charge a flat fee for a delivery, five bucks.  It would prevent restaurants from charging extra for products to be delivered.  They would pay minimum wage and the workers would be their own employees.  We didn’t bite, but about 800 locations in metropolitan New Orleans did, at least according to the company.

Louisiana being Louisiana, it helps to be homegrown and being homegrown means that Waitr understood that politics was part of the grease in making its delivery system work, especially if they could corner a part of the market.  The legislature had debated allowing liquor deliveries in a recent session.  This isn’t as unusual in a state (and city) that allows drive-in window daiquiri sales and allows open containers everywhere.  The bill failed, so they put together a committee to study it for the next session, and this time Waitr had a seat at the table.  With an eye to leveling its own playing field, Waitr got them to require that any delivery service classified the workers as employees, as they did then, not as independent contractors.  The state rep who carried the bill described that requirement as “the linchpin” in the passage of the bill.  This also of course blocked Uber, Instacart and other third-party app companies from hauling booze to the thirsty by ripping off their workers.

In a stunning revelation covered in The Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate, the major regional grocery chain, Rouses, “is expanding into the delivery market but isn’t able to make a profit under the current alcohol delivery laws, which require using hourly wage employees.”  In other words, if the company has to at least guarantee a minimum wage, a measly $7.25 in Louisiana per hour, it doesn’t work.  For the business model to work, there has to be a worker rip-off.

Meanwhile Waitr, the company whose fingerprints were all over the law, is not one of the 50 companies licensed to make deliveries.   The company went public and then was bought out.  All 2300 employees were laid off and told to reapply as independent contractors.  They now charge restaurants 15 to 25% as a service fee as well as for any credit card transaction, but still bar the restaurant from charging separate prices for delivery items, as they do routinely in New York City.

The precarious and predatory nature of app-based delivery services and their enablers seems beyond debate.

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We’re So Sorry About Louisiana’s Senator John Neely Kennedy

New Orleans      Those of us who live in Louisiana or care about the role of the state and its people in public affairs are just as sorry as we can be every time our junior Senator John Kennedy tries to take the stage with cameras running to provide the sordid sideshow commentary about the impeachment, the President, or almost anything else.  When Ronald Reagan or Sony Bono were elected to federal offices, it was clear voters, right or wrong, were pulling the lever for entertainers who had become politicians.  Somehow Louisianans who voted for Kennedy, right or wrong, thought they were voting for a seasoned politician to represent the state’s interest in Washington and now discover we’ve humiliated ourselves as he’s decided to act as some kind of cross between country bumpkin, horse’s butt, and total dufus.

He thinks he’s a quipster and comedian of some sort tossing out one-liners here and there appropriate for nothing.  We knew this was coming when he said he would rather drink weed killer than support Obamacare, and he didn’t stop even when many roared, “Please!”  As the Bayou Brief reviewed his act,

It’s part of a carefully, albeit mysteriously, calculated image to portray a well-educated professional politician as a cracker barrel philosopher; a character straight out of the long-running teevee show, “Hee-Haw.” In short, our senator and former state treasurer thinks he’s Grandpa Jones only without the banjo and the droopy mustache:.

Stephanie Grace, a columnist for the local paper in New Orleans in a rarity, stepped out of her comfort zone recently and zinged Kennedy for trying to act the “class clown,” and worse for being a dupe or a shill for the President’s widely discredited Russian coverup fantasy that Ukraine rather than the Kremlin was behind all of the 2016 monkey-business and election interference.  As Grace writes,

…he is a shape-shifter, a worldly scion of Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Oxford who adopts an aw-shucks demeanor on television, and a former moderate Democrat who put his finger to the wind and tacked hard to the right.

Worse, with impeachment soon heading for the US Senate, who is going hold the hook that pulls Kennedy and his act off the stage so serious business can be conducted?

We’ve been there and done that before, but Huey Long was an original, and that was last century.  He was also a brilliant politician with his finger on the pulse of peoples’ pain and aspirations.  Those were different times.  There’s no going back.

In 2019, there’s no traction in being a cornpone, country hick in a state like Louisiana trying to move forward rather than backward.  Lil’ Abner’s Dogpatch is hardly making it in Arkansas, and only Dolly Parton can be the impresario of Dollywood, but if John Neely Kennedy wants to audition for a part in some atavistic Louisiana hayride role, he should get on with it, rather than practicing that shtick in Congress. The people of Louisiana and America, frankly, deserve better than a comedy act when it comes to dealing with the current tragedy of our government.

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