07.01.2019

UBER TÖTET - UBER KILLS



EIGHT DEAD TAXI DRIVERS ARE ENOUGH – RESIST!



DANILO CASTILLO, KENNY CHOW, ROY KIM, FAUSTO LUNA, NICANOR OCHISOR, ALFREDO PEREZ, ABDUL SALEH AND DOUGLAS SHIFTER: EIGHT DEAD - THIS IS ENOUGH!

"I refuse to live as a slave – I would rather die." wrote New York livery cab driver Douglas Shifter on February 5, 2018 in his farewell letter. Afterwards, the 62-year-old parked his car at the steps of New York’s City Hall and put a bullet in his head.

Between January and early December 2018, a total of eight professional New York drivers took their own lives. The last taxi driver to commit suicide in 2018 was Roy Kim. Eight dead drivers in New York alone – in one year.

In his poem "On Violence," Bertolt Brecht writes: "The rushing river they call violent/But the riverbed that constricts it/No one calls violent." The clearly violent National Socialist Underground (NSU) killed ten people in seven years. But is it not also violent when people are deprived of their livelihood? As Douglas Shifter puts it: "I've been working 100 to 120 hours every week for more than 14 years, yet I can’t manage to feed my family."

Danilo Castillo, Kenny Chow, Roy Kim, Fausto Luna, Nicanor Ochisor, Alfredo Perez, Abdul Saleh and Douglas Shifter could still be on the road in New York right now. And I wouldn’t be writing about them if I weren’t directly affected. As long as the suffering was elsewhere, be it New York or Athens, I thought, like you, that it had nothing to do with me. Bangladesh was always somewhere else - until it knocked on my door. And even if you’re already poor today, Bangladesh could be waiting outside your door tomorrow. Nietzsche already knew this: "A person often does not know how rich he is, until he learns from experience what rich men play the thief on him.”

Personally, I find being bullshitted as I’m being impoverished worse than impoverishment itself. For example, Uber’s “professional drivers” – who don’t have to take the geography exam required of every Berlin taxi driver – are supposedly able to do their job better than I do mine. However, these “professional drivers” all drive with GPS because they don’t have any knowledge of the Berlin streets. Driving with a GPS is exactly what we cab drivers used to make fun of: "I to drive - you to say." But today it should be: "You to say - I to drive" because without the GPS telling them where to go, these "professional drivers" with zero local knowledge can’t go anywhere.

I don’t use a GPS. I drive with a street atlas. To rely on a GPS is to lose your sense of direction. Someone who doesn’t even know the general direction of their destination, or who needs a GPS to get to Brandenburg Gate, is not a professional, but simply an idiot. I use my head when I drive. I can think for myself. I can only recommend this to everyone.

The farewell letter from New York colleague Douglas Shifter ended with the words, "Resist!" In Germany as well as the United States, fewer and fewer people are able to make a decent living from their work. They live in a little Bangladesh in our midst. However, they aren’t as stupid as they’re made out to be. On the contrary. They see through the game, for example the fairytale that there’s a shortage of skilled workers in Germany. In the taxi industry, skilled workers like me are being actively pushed aside in order to pay auxiliary workers slave wages.

You can impoverish me, but you can’t take away my dignity – and above all, you can’t take away my knowledge. Even if it’s not appreciated, and for good reason – for only those who know nothing must believe everything. My knowledge is all in my head, so I can burn my street atlas with no reservations. And you should also keep your knowledge in your head. Let nothing dissuade you, and – resist!

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