UBER Points To The Dysfunctionality And Distortions That Excessive Regulation And Legalism Can Bring To The Market.
It should be obvious by now that what UBER represents is what some segments of the cab business might look like if they were free from the excessive interference of local government. Cab companies would have adopted new technology years ago if it weren’t for the drag created by local regulation. Meters and fares, for example, have to be approved in many jurisdictions so that if a cab company wanted to use an app to calculate fares that change would be subject to the approval or disapproval of local officials. Most local officials are never happy about anything that they can’t control and a lot of the disruption caused by UBER is impacting local control and turf dynamics.
The problem of poorly run cab companies is like the problem of other bad businesses: without a means of publicly shaming bad behavior or having laws that enforce various kinds of compliance they won’t change. Finding just the right balance between regulation and free enterprise requires that the dynamics of free enterprise are understood and adverted to as an engine of change. Understanding that too much regulation kills initiative and that too little legislation may encourage bad behavior — both corporate and private — is based on an understanding of human nature that sees that human beings are driven, for the most part, by the pursuit of advantage and self-interest. Often times these pursuits are unprincipled. Corporations, for example, often forget that giving back to the communities they prosper from is more than just engaging in public relations stunts. Likewise, public officials who forget that their job is to serve, not just the public but the greater good, usually miss the boat in terms of understanding what legislation serves that greater good and what legislation might negatively impact it.
Legislation, in this respect, is an art that understands that individual and corporate self-interest balanced against public interest has to be carefully considered in terms of consequence. The two-tiered system now in effect between UBER and the Livery industry is obviously flawed but without adverting to larger principles, the legal dog and pony show still doesn’t get to the bottom of the problem. Government works best when it is the moral custodian of the public good but without a clear understanding of what the public good might consist of there will be no end to the nonsense.
The distortion of language that can occur over some of these legal issues is a real problem. Once meaning get shredded by an excessive differentiation and disconnecting of cause and effect, real discourse becomes impossible. The idea that UBER vehicles in London, for example, don’t have taximeters because the fare is calculated outside of the UK on US servers is, simply, absurd and could only take place in a forum of legal thinking divorced from common sense. As Bill Clinton once famously said, “It depends on what you mean by is.”
As a small cab company owner, I support UBER because of what UBER represents: free enterprise that is in principle free — not just nominally free. Forgetting that economic freedom is one of the great drivers of innovation in America is dangerous when coupled with socialist-leaning ideologies that seem to have a deep suspicion of individual achievement or the ability of human beings to make virtuous choices without government assistance.