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Americans Skeptical About Tech, Funding For Broadband Maps, Court Classifies Uber and Lyft Drivers as Employees

Elijah Labby

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Photo of Uber app by Quote Catalogue used with permission

Americans are skeptical that technological growth is an issue that will positively impact national policy, James Pethokoukis wrote in an American Enterprise Institute blog post on Tuesday.

He argued that neither right-leaning nor left-leaning politicians and constituents are willing to embrace the role of future-oriented tech policy.

“On the right, there’s an unhelpful economic nostalgia for the pre-Information Age economy of the 1950s and 1960s,” he wrote. “On the left, too much of its environmentalism embraces scarcity rather than abundance.”

Neither side seems to believe that the benefits of such future-looking policy outweigh its perceived downsides, Pethokoukis continued, and politicians from each respective party should embrace the strategy.

“Neither left nor right are explicitly championing the idea that faster technological progress, innovation-driven productivity and economic growth need to be a national priority which deeply informs policy,” Pethokoukis wrote. “…At the same time, leaders should provide explanation and vision as to why such a goal will enrich American society.”

Additional congressional funding of FCC broadband mapping efforts necessary, says Free State Foundation

Congress should provide additional funding to the Federal Communications Commission, argued the Free State Foundation on Tuesday.

The FSF suggested pulling the funds from the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act, which they argued would contribute to hastened broadband rollout efforts.

“Congress should promptly fund modernized broadband coverage mapping efforts by the FCC to identify unserved areas and target them for broadband service subsidies,” they said.

FSF also suggested that the FCC should implement the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and a proposed 5G Fund, as well as ensuring that such funds do not contribute to overfunding in areas already sufficiently covered.

“Prompt action is needed to help prevent the pandemic-related harm to infrastructure investment and network buildout efforts,” they said. “Congress and the Commission should follow through on several pending proposals to remove regulatory barriers to investment and to help ensure reasonable and timely deployment of broadband Internet services to all Americans.”

California judge rules that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees

A California judge has ruled that Uber and Lyft must reclassify their drivers as employees, affording them benefits not given to contract workers, Axios reported.

The companies are resisting the move. An Uber spokesperson criticized the decision, saying that “the vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law."

“When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression,” he continued.

However, earlier this week, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called for a universal fund to which all gig economy companies would be compelled to contribute. The proposed fund would then provide benefits for their workers.

“I’m proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off,” he said. “...All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps.”

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