Mayor de Blasio is escalating his war on a user-friendly transportation company whose dramatic success is upending a yellow-cab industry that has long been his close political ally.
Don’t be fooled by the mayor’s attempts — on the previous pages of the Daily News — to spin his crusade as a progressive, pro-worker, pro-accessibility, anti-congestion imperative.
De Blasio’s broadside is just an attempt to pave the path for the City Council, led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — also a beneficiary of the yellow industry — to stifle Uber’s growth. [from the New York Daily News, 7/19/15]
Most people mistakenly assume that government intervention in the economy is for the sake of “the common good.”
The New York City government’s attack on the hugely successful personalized car rental company Uber illustrates — for the 10,932nd time — how untrue this is.
Governments are supposed to protect citizens in only one way: to keep them free from violent and fraudulent criminals.
Is Uber guilty of a crime? No. Nor is that the accusation.
These politicians are undoubtedly protecting their cronies. They decry self-interest in Uber, and others, when they succeed at making a profit. They’re not so down on profit when it comes to the financial and power rewards they seek and gain from their politically protected interest groups.
It’s worse than that, however. Politicians and those who support their efforts are trying to cut an upstart, successful company down to size. It’s not their cronies they wish to protect so much as success, innovation, and the honest profits that result from such achievement that they wish to destroy. It’s not the helpless and the vulnerable they wish to assist; it’s the capable, the competent and the strong they wish to bring down.
What’s happening is that Uber is hugely successful, posing a threat (via competition) to New York city’s cab companies. The mayor and other members of the New York City government seek to protect those cab companies by throttling, impeding or otherwise undercutting Uber.
It happens all the time. It happens every day. Every time it happens, it’s wrong. People should see this for what it is.
In a democracy, as opposed to a dictatorship, a politician like de Blasio has one enormous weapon: guilt.
He won’t come out and admit that he’s protecting his friends (and donors) in the cabbie industry. Nor will he acknowledge all the throttling of the cab industry the New York City government has imposed over the years, making cabs be in line not with consumers so much as the political wants and needs of the government.
Instead, he pulls out guilt. For example, de Blasio says that riders need “honest rates and security against surge-pricing schemes that look an awful lot like price-gouging.”
What’s “price-gouging”? Basically, he’s saying that Uber is charging “too much.” But how much is too much? Nobody is being forced to pay for their car service. As a private business, they’re naturally going to charge the most they can, based on what consumers are able and willing to pay.
By what moral right — or economic standard, either — does the New York city mayor and government step in and say, “That’s too high a price. We’ll make you charge less”? Uber rose to prominence precisely because it offered a service people wanted, for which people were willing to pay these supposedly “too high” prices.
Defenders of de Blasio’s actions also point to the needs of the handicapped. If it’s the handicapped you’re concerned about, a free marketplace which seeks to maximize profits for businesses will do more to directly (or indirectly) help the handicapped than any arbitrary power-wielding politician could ever hope to do. Any benefits that have come to the handicapped are thanks to the profit-seeking and knowledge-loving innovation of the private sector, and certainly no thanks to bureaucrats biding their time in unaccountable government offices. More than that, you don’t help handicapped persons by making life impossible for the majority who are not disabled. Uber has not made life worse for the handicapped, merely by existing.
Bringing up the handicapped is simply a way to foster guilt. “Oh, my. De Blasio says that if I support Uber’s right to exist, I’m against the handicapped. What will my friends think of me? Does that make me a bad person? Oh, my!” This is the kind of inner mentality that legalized thugs like de Blasio (and most politicians, in both parties) count on for getting their way.
Admirable, enlightened and progressive, you call it? You must be kidding.
A website attempting to stop De Blasio [http://petition.uber.org/nyc/] states the following:
Here’s what you need to know — the Council’s proposal (Bill 842) is bad for riders, drivers and New York City:
Riders would experience less reliable service in the form of longer wait times and higher prices…
…Drivers would experience a significant decrease in earning potential — 10,000 expected new jobs would evaporate, and countless New Yorkers who have come to rely on the Uber platform for income would face an uncertain future.
…The Council’s proposal would cap the number of new vehicles associated with Uber to 201 in all of New York City for an entire year, under the guise of studying traffic congestion. Of the 25 other transportation studies listed on the City’s website, not one required a simultaneous freeze on the subject being studied.
It’s important to understand that this is not merely about transportation in New York City. It’s about the right of private businesses to prosper, and make a profit, anywhere — regardless of what the service or product is, how much its providers charge, or where that product or service is offered.
Perhaps the greatest fallacy and evasion in marketplace hampering is the idea that it’s “helping the public.” In a case of fraud or objectively proven malfeasance, the public does need help. But the public does not need “help” when it willingly pays for a product or service, and is pleased enough with the product or service to pay more than some politician, city council (or federal government) personally thinks is “too high.”
We wonder why the economy no longer grows like it once did — 1-2 percent a year if we’re lucky (when real economies grow 4-8 percent a year), and only that much if we ignore relevant employment data, such as people who give up on working altogether. We wonder why there’s not as much new or innovative coming out of America as in previous decades, to say nothing of the massively inventive eras of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There’s a reason for it. The reason is that we throttle innovation, profit, free enterprise and ingenuity every chance we get. We permit, and some of us actively encourage, our elected officials to do it.
“The people” that moronic twits like Mayor de Blasio represent are the very same consumers and customers willingly and voluntarily paying money to a service provider they deem superior to the politicians’ cronies. It’s not a local issue between cab drivers and an up and coming car rental company. It’s about economic freedom, private property, and individual sovereignty over one’s own mind, dollars and judgment.
Everyone should care about those things, and not let bully politicians stand in our way.
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