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Progressives For Cronyism; Ridesharing Edition

Posted by V the K at 7:02 am - April 15, 2014.
Filed under: Crony Capitalism Consequences

Surprised Jeff didn’t have this one. Technology has enabled people who need rides to connect with people who have rides to offer through services like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber. The taxicab companies are not happy about these interlopers. In a Free Market, the taxicab companies would have to up their game in order to hold onto their customers; i.e. offer better services and/or better prices… cabs that don’t smell like the floor of a dive bar’s bathroom, drivers with a higher level of courtesy than a rap star’s bodyguards. But in the modern “progressive” political economy, it’s easier just to get their bought-and-paid-for politicians to shut the competition down and claim it’s for the Common Good.

In Philadelphia, the city has confiscated the automobiles of people participating in Sidecar’s ridesharing service.  In Austin TX, these services have been banned outright at the behest of… of course … taxicab companies. Minneapolis is requiring ride-sharers to register and be licensed as taxi drivers (an expensive, time-consuming process subject to the whims of bureaucracy). Efforts are underway in NYC, DC, Atlanta, and other large socialist-run cities to ban the services entirely.

It is also bothersome to the bureaucrats that the ratings systems provided by consumers offer a higher assurance of driver quality than the paperwork of a thousand bureaucrats.

Ask yourself: Would you rather ride with a driver who has been rated by other passengers, with that rating posted on your cell phone and monitored continuously by a company with a stake in maintaining consumer confidence, or one who has been cleared by some local political appointee who might, just might, see approval of a driver as a source of income?

You also don’t have to worry about a Somali cabdriver refusing to give you a ride because your guide dog is forbidden according to his Mohammedan religion.

Demagogues will always find some reason to oppose the free market; “public safety” or “protecting jobs.” When Progressives rail against “unbridled capitalism,” they are railing against the innovation, efficiency, and higher standard of service that comes from free market competition. And what they are advocating instead is bureaucracy, cronyism, and stagnation.



  1. I’m surprised the Minneapolis model isn’t being embraced: instead of banning the services that people want, co-opt them and unionize the employees. Y’know, control.

    Comment by Ignatius — April 15, 2014 @ 9:19 am - April 15, 2014

  2. I work for Lyft, so I have some inside experience with this. In Columbus, Ohio, the city council is pretty open to us, and not open to the cab companies (there are at least 10 in the city, so, it’s harder for them to shut anyone else out without cutting their own throat).

    The way to get cities to embrace rideshares is really simple: bring up the fact that cabbies are reluctant to take anything but cash. They will claim that it’s because of the surcharge they have to pay when you use plastic. Frankly, that is bull. The real reason is cash can be made to disappear from one’s income. That way neither the feds, the state, nor the city, can tax it.

    Lyft, for one, does ALL transactions via plastic. The driver doesn’t have to handle the payment at all. In Columbus, cabbies are trying to get rideshares to go through the same screening and inspections they do. Lyft drivers do, and the records are there for the asking, as far as screening goes. Inspections? Red herring. The cabs aren’t inspected either, so that argument is bogus.

    Rideshares are not getting into New York City. Nor is it needed, when subways and buses are as frequent and inexpensive as they are. Plus all the cabs are effectively owned by the city.

    Comment by Craig Smith — April 15, 2014 @ 9:59 am - April 15, 2014

  3. That is interesting information, Craig. Thanks.

    Comment by V the K — April 15, 2014 @ 10:42 am - April 15, 2014

  4. Timely topic, I see. Taxi monopolies need to be broken, especially when riders are subject to the whim of primitive, foreign, adverse cultural influences of immigrant drivers.

    Comment by Marc Winger — April 15, 2014 @ 11:59 am - April 15, 2014

  5. I can see why Big Taxi needs to be protected, especially in places like NYC where cab emblems cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are rarely available. If the city is only giving out so many cab licenses per year and at an inordinately inflated price, cabbies will be outraged if after shelling out all this money to a corrupt, big city gubamint, their pool of riders goes down. Democrats hurt the working stiff, yet they keep voting for these bozos.

    Comment by runningrn — April 15, 2014 @ 12:09 pm - April 15, 2014

  6. V, well said!

    “Surprised Jeff didn’t have this one” – Well, I’m surprised that Jeff doesn’t get to a lot of things. 😉

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 15, 2014 @ 1:20 pm - April 15, 2014

  7. I like to use the ridesharing services vs taxi cabs as teachable moments to my liberal friends. They LOVE these services, hate cab drivers and everytime a city tries to shut them down, I can point and go “That’s big government for you!”

    Leftists might want to let these slide, otherwise they risk pissing off their young voters.

    Comment by Chris H — April 15, 2014 @ 1:57 pm - April 15, 2014

  8. Additional information about Lyft:

    While it is entirely possible that a Lyft driver may refuse to take you for religious reasons, that gets reflected on their scores as a driver, and Lyft may decide to terminate its contract with you if too many riders complain.

    Yeah, every single lyft, the driver rates the passenger, and the passenger rates the driver. If either falls too low, they are cut from the service. A driver who refuses to take certain passengers eventually loses his contract, and a passenger who is obnoxious and rude eventually finds that all lyft drivers are busy.

    Comment by Craig Smith — April 15, 2014 @ 5:45 pm - April 15, 2014

  9. This is a great post (as well as Craig’s comments).

    From what I can see thus far, ride-sharing is an affordable way for people to get around the city.

    Comment by Cinesnatch — April 16, 2014 @ 11:47 am - April 16, 2014

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