2015 August 02 Sunday
Uber Under Regulatory Assault In California

Regulators care less about outcomes than process.

Notably, complaints about Uber typically aren’t coming from customers, and even among the firm’s drivers, crusades like Berwick’s are rare. In fact, what’s striking about the various campaigns against ride-sharing is their reliance on paperwork and credentialing instead of outcomes. The CPUC, for example, doesn’t assert that Uber is harming actual handicapped people, only that the company has failed to produce paperwork that proves the absence of harm. Similarly, the cab companies’ speech-related lawsuit—which focuses on safety claims made in Uber ads—does not claim that traditional taxis are safer than Uber rides. The plaintiffs assert instead that cab drivers are subjected to more paperwork than Uber drivers.

Then cab drivers should be subjected to less paperwork and regulation.

Government puts its requirements above the revealed preferences of customers.

The anti-Uber campaign’s reluctance to assess outcomes is understandable, given the public’s strong revealed preference for the company. Interest groups can complain, but drivers and customers continue to vote for Uber with their time and money. In a free country or a sane state, a clear market decision in favor of a business would be the end of the discussion. But Uber is increasingly under pressure to furnish evidence that its model works in theory as well as in practice.

Will the choking effect of the regulatory Leviathan continue to rise in the United States? I think the forces arrayed against it are weaker than the Leviathan (with very big banks as an obvious exception).

I do not see how to prevent the decline of the West. The continued progress of Moore's Law has allowed productivity increases in many areas. But the Moore's Law boosts in productivity are partially outweighed by the growth in the Leviathan's interference.

Since the Republican Party is in the process of becoming road kill to immigration (with a great deal of help from Republican elites) we can't hope for a conservative backlash against the regulatory state. While Uber is visible and wealthy enough to do battle against its regulator enemies a great many other companies are never founded because regulators make their founding impossible. We lose a great deal of opportunity because of this.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 August 02 11:30 AM 

painlord2k said at August 4, 2015 10:26 AM:

Uber is the Napster of transport.
They kill Uber? They get Gnutella, eDonkey, BitTorrent and worse.
It is not technologically impossible, nor difficult. It just require some effort in developing the right software solution.
Like with Bitcoin.

Nick said at August 6, 2015 6:32 AM:

@painlord2k I don't see the analogy. Transportation isn't intellectual property. A friend recently tried to make the case that Uber is skirting the regulations that the taxi industry is subject to, which were developed over generations for good reason, such as brake checks. I'd like to see some hard data first showing the rates of Uber-involved accidents versus taxis. I've never been in an accident while in a taxi or Uber, but I think both types of drivers have exhibited dangerous behaviors in their own ways. The former driving like maniacs, and the latter being glued to the GPS on their smartphone. For now I'll trust the company that people vote for with their wallets versus the crusty monopoly that prevents Uber drivers from picking up at San Francisco International.

Big Bill said at August 12, 2015 11:36 AM:

Uber was busted for not gathering free statistics for the SJW to use to put Uber out of business as 'wayciss'. Same-same with police departments, fire departments, schools, etc. If you are a SJW and you do not have the money to hire lawyers and paralegals to sue and do discovery #documents, records, email, accounting, phone messages, etc.# to prove your case, then you get your SJW bureaucrat buddies to make a rule that the Bad Guys must gather bunches of data, organize it, and periodically hand it over for free.

Many times this data-gathering requirement is embedded in some 'consent decree' when #for example# an unarmed A student black football player gets shot by the cops and his family sues the city.

If you are a state or city agency addicted to the federal teat already, the solution is easy: just make next year's block grant conditional on more statistical reports, like Obama is doing to push his new regional housing program to merge cities and suburbs.

The bottom line is that Uber serves hip, young whites and Asians, unlike gypsy cabs. A pretty young girl can select her car and driver using a bunch of filters that #let's be honest# insure that she gets a nice safe car driven by some sweet inoffensive white beta college boy. There is no easy way to investigate this white 'waycism' except by Uber collecting and collating statistics and handing them over for free.

A young black man can sue a NYC cabbie #or get the Taxi and Limo Commission to pull his hack license# if the black man flags down a cab and the cabbie refuses to pick him up at 2am in Times Square and take him to a dark back street in Harlem #thank you, Danny Glover!#. But who can he sue just because he requests a ride to Harlem and no Uber driver volunteers? No one. That is why Uber must be shut down. But the SJWs cannot afford to sue Uber as 'wayciss' until they have a pile of free Uber statistics to pore over, analyze, and make their case.

Big Bill said at August 12, 2015 12:08 PM:

So the question is how to restructure the Uber business model to avoid the 'wayciss' taint. Maybe have a cabby selection website/server/company that does nothing more than offer a form for gathering cabby info and serve it up. They aren't discriminatory, since all they get is basic info+picture and they let anyone fill out a form and access the database. Then create another website/server/company that tracks vehicles and accepts web requests for drivers. They aren't discriminatory since all they do is match a trip requester to a driver. Then set up a website/server/company to handle the credit card charges. They don't discriminate since they will process travel charges for anybody going anywhere. And then setup a webapp/server/company that merely integrates these disparate, unrelated services/companies in a nice iPhone interface.

This sort of corporate segmentation by function is what happened in the movie/music business: tons of companies provide searchable data about movies/music, tons of companies provide anonymous data storage, tons of companies provide downloading software, but they are all independent #unlike MP3.com and Napster.com#. This makes it much, much harder to prove illegal copyright infringement.

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