Secret Things You Can Do in Asia, the Cheapest Apartments on the Internet, and 3500 Bonus American Miles

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Another one – hold a Siberian tiger cub in Harbin, China. We stopped at the Siberian tiger preserve (largest in the world) there this month and had the treat of holding a 40 day old cub….who gets to do that?

  2. As I’ve said before, uber needs to pay fair wages and provide benefits. Good for de Blasio.

  3. Gene, according to a recent Time magazine article, the salary of NYC Uber drivers — after factoring in all costs and expenses — ‘is at least on par with that of a normal cab driver, and potentially more…the vast majority of Uber drivers—78%—are satisfied working for the company.’

  4. Oh, come on, SPC. It should be obvious that a omnipotent politician like DeBlasio has a much better understanding of what constitutes a “fair wage” for an Uber driver than, say, actual Uber drivers. How could you possibly think otherwise? And of course because he is a noble and disinterested public servant, he is exercising his judgment solely in the public interest and not trying to benefit cab companies that donated to his campaign or anything of that sort.

  5. i call BS on the European and Asian experiences Wendy is advertising. I know plenty of people in California with sick mansions and crazy properties. They don’t give tours for a fee. Something is not adding up.

  6. @Gene so it is better to prevent drivers from entering the industry, ensuring that they’re stuck with their current level of wages rather than what they believe will improve their standard of living?

  7. @Stvr, I’ve actually done some of the special experiences mentioned on Wendy Perrin’s site, and I assure you, they are for real. (And generally VERY costly.) Haven’t you ever heard of “land rich, cash poor”? It’s not uncommon for people from old families to inherit huge, costly-to-maintain estates and/or stately homes, but almost no money. And the taxes eat them alive!

  8. Those of you dismissing what NYC is doing: it’s worth considering the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they might sincerely be doing this because of a reason other a protectionist desire to stop thousands of people having well-paying jobs.

    There are other things at play here: insurance, unionization, status as employees/contractors, the danger of swapping a public monopoly for a private monopoly, Uber’s demonstrable history of contempt for public safety and diligence at avoiding liability or responsibility for its employees, congestion, etc., etc., etc.

    Oh yes, there’s also the fact that these are *not* well-paying jobs. Uber’s claim that the median UberX driver earns 90k/year has been comprehensively debunked. (To be fair to Uber, you can earn 90k if you work 27 hours per day, 365 days per year.)

    And there’s also the fact that this is happening all over the world, so any pro-Uber arguments that boil down to “the NYC taxi commision has de Blasio in its pocket” should consider that.

  9. Uber may be using creative accounting to come up with that 90K figure, but the funny thing about capitalism is that if enough Uber drivers think their earnings are too low they will stop driving for Uber and find other jobs. Ironically, fewer drivers could lead to more surge pricing, which in turn means more $ for those drivers that do stick with the company. Or Uber will raise the amount it pays its drivers to keep them.

    As long as Uber can provide me clean cars with fair fares, driven by friendly people with clean criminal and driving records who are sober at the time I get in the car, I’m all for it.

  10. I’ve met at least 4 uber drivers personally who make 80K+ on the platform. So it happens. And my unscientific survey of 200+ rides, almost all drivers are happy to have the work.

  11. Nik, is that 80K gross, or is it net income before taxes, or net after taxes? Uber drivers have to pay all costs for operating their vehicles, plus any other expenses (such as commercial liability insurance), so I’m guessing the net is quite a bit less than the gross. And then (as independent contractors) they have to pay both halves of the employment taxes (i.e., self-employment tax = Social Security & Medicare tax), plus income tax.

    Also, how many hours do they work in order to earn at that level? My guess would be that it is far more than “normal” (~40 hrs./week).

  12. Annual salaries as an Uber driver are the wrong measure. For most, it’s a part-time gig that allows flexibility. I’m certain that people that work only during peak times are doing well — enough that I’d consider it if I had a more suitable car (and I have one of those 90k+ real jobs).

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