“Disruption and disruptive innovation” “Disruptive technology” “Great disruptive thinkers” “Disruptions and disruptors” “Disrupting, disrupting, disrupting” “And we love the word disrupt, don’t we?” Disrupt! The word on your boss’s insufferable LinkedIn profile, next to the picture of him and his Tesla. Disrupt is a tech buzzword for “making things better.” And as tech companies undermine major industries and take over public services, we have to ask: Are they making things better? Are they saving us from an economy and a government that don’t work for most people, or is their success a sign that the worst is yet to come? It might be time to disrupt … the disrupting. Every year, tech becomes more and more part of our lives – from what we buy, to where we stay on vacation, to which stranger with too much cologne on we allow to drive us home at night. His name’s Chuck and I gave him 5 stars, ’cause he let me crack the window to fumigate. The steady encroachment of tech reminds me of what it must have been like when we first discovered fire. At first, it made life a lot easier: warming up your cave, cooking your food. But then one day you wake up and your whole family is covered in it and you’re like, “This is a little overwhelming.” But tech is cool! And that’s a plus when you want to distract news anchors from the potential downsides of, say, 7-11 delivering you food by drone. “The world’s largest convenience store chain revealed yesterday that is has delivered items to 77 customers in Reno, Nevada. You know what? I can order a Slurpee from the 7-11 near my parents’ house! From my parents’ house! – (MAN): Too much government regulation … – I used to walk to the 7-11! – (JOE): You don’t have to anymore. -(MIKA): Yeah! Wow. And that’s how you make the news all about yourself. Next up, we’ll mention California’s drought and Mika will tell a story about beating her brother in a squirt gun fight in 1974. And tech companies don’t just sell us on convenience and cool, but also the idea that there’s nothing wrong with disrupting the market. Because innovation is progress. Like Harmony, the talking sex robot. Progress. And innovation always leads to better results … right? “A new report out now says Airbnb is driving up rental prices and housing availability in New York City.” “Airbnb is playing a role in exacerbating the housing crisis that’s already going on here in Los Angeles.” “Nearly three-quarters of Airbnb’s listings between 2010 and 2014 were essentially illegal hotels.” “Ride-sharing vehicles averaging more than 170,000 trips in the city each weekday.” “Several drivers have banded together in a class action lawsuit against the company claiming Uber misclassified them as independent contractors and owes them money for expenses like gas and vehicle maintenance.” “Uber claimed their background checks were sufficient. But nearly 100 drivers were found to have failed the checks, with drivers who committed fraud, assault, DUIs and even possessed fake IDs.” OK, but what about the free gum. Huh? And the little waters? But the bigger impact of tech companies isn’t just that they’re disrupting retail, taxi and hotel industries, public transportation, labor rights or the housing market. It’s that they’re undermining them. Take New York City, the one place that arguably didn’t need ride-hailing apps with the amount of yellow cabs, car services and a subway system where you can watch men dislocate their shoulders for like a buck. In just the last four years, the number of for-hire vehicles operating in New York City more than doubled, and almost two-thirds of them are now Uber cars. As a rider trying to get uptown quickly, that sucks, unless your favorite pastime is watching pedestrians beat you. Ooh, look at that one go. She’s got a cane! But imagine being a driver. Like Doug Schifter. Schifter had been a limo driver since the ’80s. And in early February, he shot and killed himself outside City Hall in Manhattan in what seemed to be an act of exasperation at the industry he built a career in. In a Facebook post, he said he could no longer make ends meet, even when working 100 hours a week. On top of that, he felt let down by New York City’s politicians for failing to regulate, and corporate execs for not caring. And his sentiments are echoed by taxicab drivers too. “Asafo Addai has been driving for 27 years. And he says thanks to Uber, he now has nothing to show for it. ‘I don’t have a life. I work 12 hours a day. I pretty much work just to survive.’ ” OK. But Uber says they give drivers flexibility: Take the day off … or … pay rent. Disrupt. All right, let’s ask tech. Listen to former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick justify his work: “We look at all of the cities and we know that the transportation systems there are just not they’re not serving everybody’s needs. Even here in New York, with a great mass transit system, there’s still 2.5 million cars going over those bridges every day. We just believe we can help the city do better.” “By building another bridge and donating to the MTA. [laughs] I’m just playing, we’re adding more cars and making tons of dough!” Still, Kalanick, although an unmitigated douchebag, is unfortunately not wrong. Because many mass transit systems, including the New York Subway, are sorely neglected. It’s so bad that Pizza Rat was the best thing to happen to the New York subway in decades. I’m surprised the MTA didn’t just make it its mascot. But fixing what the government hasn’t is something Big Tech constantly claims it does. Politicians have failed you, the economy has failed you. And rather than change it, tech says they’re here to help. “I was pretty much just struggling to make ends meet.” “In and out of work.” “I couldn’t pay my mortgage.” “I was having a lot of difficulty.” “When I finally came to Uber, it was probably the best thing that’s happened.” “Airbnb can give us an extra income to help us survive a little bit better.” “In the past decade wages have pretty much stayed the same while costs have gone up.” “Driver with Uber, and put a dollar sign in front of your odometer. Like this guy:” “Technically, I’m a cook.” Yeah, technically he’s a cook but since there’s no stability in the restaurant industry, he’s gotta drive drunk 23-year-olds around and hope they don’t puke in his car. Now sure, renting your place on Airbnb or driving for ride-hail companies might be solid temporary fixes. But when they go unregulated, these precarious jobs don’t become the disruption in the market, they make precarious jobs the rule of the market. Which is how you get a worsening of the housing crisis and the destruction of taxis, and the reason you can’t stay in your childhood bedroom when you go home for Thanksgiving because it’s now a “suburban oasis.” Really, Mom?! At a time when we have more income inequality than since before the Great Depression, the services these apps provide are overwhelmingly being used by people who are wealthier, making you wonder if these companies are helping to close the income gap, or prying it wide open. Tech isn’t here to help you survive the vampire bite of capitalism – it’s here to find new space on your neck. And of course, since Big Tech is so gallantly stepping in to profit off of the government and our economy’s failures, it only makes sense that one company is trying to tackle the biggest failure of them all. “Amazon is at it again, and this could be a game changer for healthcare. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase are forming an independent healthcare company for its employees.” Great idea! ‘Cause there’s no reason to think that the employees you overwork and underpay would be undercared for by your healthcare. By the way, you’re not a health care company! How much you wanna bet Amazon’s coverage is just to cover people in bubble wrap. “And you can pop some of those bubbles to distract you from the pain!” Disrupt healthcare!!!! [dub-step music] But just because these companies want to own more and more of our lives doesn’t mean they should be able to. Which brings us to the “R” word, the word that makes every Fox News host shudder. Regulation. Listen to how this conservative pundit argues against regulating the unfettered use of drones. “You’re asking the government to get involved and to be the one to regulate what’s going on about technology? I agree with you, I don’t want them flying on my head. But I’m gonna get a helmet. I have little kids, they love the drones, there’s nothing you can do about it.” Yeah, get a helmet! That’s what being an American is all about, having needless workarounds for easily regulatable tragedies, I got my drone helmet, my acid rain helmet, my stray bullet helmet, my rape helmet, my oil spill in the drinking water helmet, and my night on the town helmet. Sup. But despite the legions of lobbyists hired by tech companies to fight laws restricting them, cities and states have started to regulate. Cities like London, Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit and Vancouver have been placing taxes and restrictions on short-term rental services like Airbnb. Berlin was able to bring back 8,000 housing units to the market. And ride-hailing services have been limited, taxed and subjected to more oversight in states like Michigan, Massachusetts and Texas, which will help raise driver wages, reduce traffic and bring more money to those states. Because not all disruption is a bad thing. Uber and Lyft probably prevent a lot of driving drunk, and one time I stayed in a treehouse in Nashville. It was awesome. But maybe it’s time to rethink how tech isn’t fixing our real problems. Instead, it’s a bandaid falling off the gaping wound left by the thing we should disrupt most of all: that vampire called capitalism. Thanks again for watching Newsbroke, I’m Francesca Fiorentini, follow me on Twitter. And please share this video with your network to give them a more thorough picture of the effects of the apps they might be using everyday. And also will you please go to our review page and give us a 5-star review on Facebook Watch? Because the trolls … they come out. “This is my fact helmet and you’re wearing a shirt that says feminist and I feel threatened. One star.” So thank you for giving us a review, and we’ll see you next week.