New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be the last nanny statist to come a cropper in a fight with Uber.
De Blasio wanted to cap the number of Uber vehicles by requiring the company to seek City Hall’s permission each time it upgraded its smartphone app. His capitulation last week should serve as a cautionary tale for other big-government advocates. As I write in The Australian this morning:
De Blasio used every lame argument in the progressive handbook to make the case for regulation. Uber was a corporate behemoth trying to dictate to government; it relied on a predatory business model that cheated workers of their benefits; Uber would undermine the quota system for disability-friendly vehicles; regulation protects consumers from overcharging.Uber would discourage “low-carbon and multi-modal options” (bike riding and walking in layman’s terms) and would increase dependency on fossil fuels.
De Blasio and his coercive arguments were on a hiding to nothing against a company that delivers safe and reliable transport through voluntary co-operation, the essence of the free market. Uber is winning because it is quicker, more reliable, more convenient, more personable and often cheaper than a regulated taxi.
The ultimate reproof for the regulatory state is that Uber is safer. Customers know their driver’s name, phone number and the vehicle’s make, model and registration…
The driver collects no cash and can rest assured that in the event of any unpleasantness Uber has their name, address and credit card details. Passengers may still be drunks, but at least they are not random drunks.
The result is that Uber has broken the taxi driving glass ceiling. In Australia more than 10 per cent of Uber drivers are women, the company reports, and the number is increasing every month. That’s more than double the proportion of women who reported driving cars for a living in Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra in the 2011 census.
In the end, the biggest disruption from Uber is not that unleashed on the regulated taxi industry but on the idea of regulation itself…
DISRUPTING THE REGULATORS