Conservatives in Action: or how I learned to love Uber


Mostly because of the lack of transparency and auditability of the background checks, I would assume.


Legit, but it starts to get into the same area as “why not just let consumers research their own doctors?”

Now obviously, cab drivers != doctors, but the same argument about the state being able to manage risk way better than an individual actor applies.


I lived in Austin from 91-97. Most of that was getting my degree from UT but then I worked there for about 2 years after that.

Austin sucks. The traffic is insane for the city size. It was irritating 20 years ago, its way worse now. I have lived and worked in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio and Austin is by far the worst when it comes to traffic. Not to say that traffic in Austin is necessarily worse than Dallas or Houston during rush hour but in Austin its fucking all the time.

I have two step sons that live there and I fucking hate having to visit them. Uber and Lyft were a boon to the city, as they are to any city because cabs suck and Uber and Lyft are just objectively better than cabs. Its hilarious to me that voters essentially voted both companies out. It is a classic case of cutting of your nose to spite your face. The Mayor and the city council overplayed their hand.

That said I do think it is curious that both companies are choosing to stop service there based on what amounts to a $40 fingerprint background check. They spent an insane amount of money campaigning for “Prop 1”. An amount that would have paid for like 200K background checks. I am sure they are looking at this longterm…but the whole situation has to be frustrating for the people that used Uber and Lyft in Austin.


Are you sure about? It seems that the requirement was already in place e for taxi companies, except now it looks at a national registry, not just a Texas one. I guess that sinks your argument doesn’t it? If uber can’t compete on a level playing field, than that is capitalism in action.


I believe that there was a requirement for background checks added in for taxis to the code in 2014.


So, 2 years ago? Sounds like reasonable requirements for people working in the public sphere in a very broad way. Looks to me like Uber and others are being annoyed that the rules apply to them. And other ride share companies will probably make up the difference.


I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder. I personally care that (a) a cabbie/Uber driver has a valid driver’s license and (b) their vehicle passes the local safety inspections and © … um, that’s just about it.

I don’t really care what their past was like or whether the police have a sample of their DNA or what their Myers-Briggs test results were or whether they have a healthy relationship with their fathers.


I’m concerned that I’m in the seat with a serial rapist. I guess to each his own (so far, the ‘background’ check by Uber has been far from perfect, and I don’t trust them not to cut corners when it suits them).


I’m not so worried about the serial rapist, if they aren’t incarcerated then society has said it’s okay for them to be out in public. I am deeply concerned about the complete lack of Voight Kampff testing nationwide by both Uber and Lyft.


A Voight Kampff test must be mandatory with the proposed legislation. I’ve also done finger printing, various background checks, and (of course) drug testing for jobs, before. It’s not all that onerous, but I’m guessing there’s more going on here. Does anyone know what else is involved?


Those sorts of discriminator practices must be stopped! You replicantist make me sick!


Not necessarily, if they haven’t been caught and fingerprinted yet, they would still be anonymous to the law.


A fair amt of UBER drivers are part-time that work a few hours a week. UBER is a supplement not their man source of income. Establishing a more costly finger printing service as well as other red tape means that supply of drivers available to Uber will fall. People won’t want to deal with the hassle so several of the part time drivers won’t see it as worth while.

This regulation puts a greater deal of burden on Uber/drivers. This burden starts to disrupt part of the UBER biz model and makes UBER at more risk for the next phase of taxi/labor cartel playbook. Uber needs to keep employees at a certain arms length or the company b/c responsible for a whole host of other labor laws which would destroy the business model. The CA lawsuits against Uber are the end game, which destroys the innovation/gig economy sector.

This is also pretty clear example of public choice theory. Regulation that seems harmless and can be passed is then used to choke out competition. It’s why lobbying at fed/state level is growing so fast. I always, always love the happy store of the new company that grows and tries something new…and then its maturity and realizes it has to hire a ton of lobbyists(govt. affairs). It’s an annual politico story. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Uber…


You might want to add passenger liability insurance to that short list. It would be nice to know that if the Uber driver caused an accident injuring you (or killing you) that you (or your beneficiary) were covered.


From what I read, the issue isn’t necessarily cost. It’s the “red tape” part that you mention that really kills their model. Their model is driven by making it relatively easy to become a driver, almost to the point where it is impulsive. I think they need you to make your first $ quickly, to give you the carrot of being one of their drivers.

This website ( lays out the easy steps of being a driver, including the speed of a background check. Anything that would significantly extend that flow (e.g., having to go to a certified fingerprinting place, waiting the weeks for the results to come back), really screws with their model.

I think Uber, unlike cab companies expect relatively high turnover of their drivers, as people’s specific time and financial circumstances make driving more or less attractive for the vastly part-time drivers that make up their core drivers. Barriers to entry matter more than they do for cab companies.


I understand the philosophy behind not wanting this. Really, I do. However, if that’s all there is then the reality of the burden may not be as large as people are making it out to be. If it’s just finger prints and the associated FBI background check, in my neck of the woods that’s a wait in line at the DMV and $25. Many companies who require it reimburse you for the expense if they hire/retain you, although I would imagine that’s not a practice that Uber would be interested in for numerous reasons. Also, I can see this as a slippery slope situation where competitors would want to squeeze Uber/Lyft in more creative ways.


The issue to me though is that for the entirety of the history of the industry, it wasn’t deemed necessary.

And then, suddenly when rides sharing shows up, NOW it’s a reasonable regulation?

Nah, it’s not really necessary. It was pushed purely because it negatively impacts ride sharing disproportionately compared to traditional cab companies.

It’s like requiring IDs to view. It’s not an unreasonable requirement. The idea of needing to prove you are a legitimate viewer isn’t unreasonable on its face.

But the point of those laws, is because that seemingly reasonable requirement has a disproportionate impact on different groups of people.

The background check stuff is essentially constructed in exactly the same manner, with the same type of intentional strategy driving it’s creation.

And ultimately, it is not really necessary at all. 99.99% of drivers aren’t criminals of any sort… just like taxi drivers didn’t routinely murder people for the decades before they had fingerprinting. Why would you need to have it proven to you that they aren’t criminals? When did we stop working the assumption that pretty much no one is a criminal? When did we start needing to have someone prove that they weren’t a criminal before getting into their cab?

I think a lot of this comes down to this nanny state mentality that we are developing, where we are seemingly always afraid of everything and everyone. Despite the fact that violent crime is at historically low levels.


If your narrative is that 2 years ago, the council created these regulations so that sometime in late 2016, Uber and Lift would have suffer through a background check, and be hurt, while it wouldn’t affect local industry, than I have to say, that sounds a little crazy. I’m looking around for confirmation of that 2014 date your threw out there, and I’m not really seeing anything like it. All I’m seeing is that a local community wanted to set a bar for drivers, and wanted Uber and Lift to meet those same criteria.

Outside of that, your about why it might now be necessary, when it historically might not have been (again, I can corroborate this 2014 year, so for all I know that has been the law of Austin for Centuries), could it be, because the number of people joining this industry has ballooned recently? Is it really odd that when an industry takes off, more people have questions or concerns about it? The sudden ease of access of Drones have caused a new set of regulations being set up, and enthusiasts are annoyed, but its the scenario. When cars came on the scene, it took a while for laws about driving to come around. Technology is always ahead of legislation, but its ludicrous to image as a reason not to put some regulations in place.

You claim it affects them disproportionately, but how? Their bottom line? Their business model? Maybe they should have a better business model, because their competitors seem to be doing fine and maybe should charge the value of their services, instead of trying to undercut others. It’s capitalism, if they can’t hack it, then like a good business, they should vanish and allow better companies to take over.

I think that’s the problem with the right is that they can’t understand that business are their at the behest of the public, and the public owes them nothing. They get to make money, but that doesn’t give them a free pass.

This is democracy in action, where a community decided against a large industry. That it’s Uber or Lift makes it a tougher story for some people, but if this headline had been about Comcast, or Verizon, and communities regulating them, I wonder how you would feel then?

As to the nanny state, I don’t have much of an argument. It’s not something I’ve noticed. What I have noticed is large corporations lobbying and throwing their weight around, and in this one time period, them losing.


Is it really odd that when an industry takes off, more people have questions or concerns about it? The sudden ease of access of Drones have caused a new set of regulations being set up, and enthusiasts are annoyed, but its the scenario.

But no, it’s not really the same thing at all.

Fifteen years ago, how many privately owned drones were there? Virtually ZERO. They were not things you encountered, at all, ever. Certainly not with anything like the capabilities today.

But taxis? Pretty much the exact same thing for the past, what, hundred years? It had not been a small industry for ages. The idea that only now, despite having a widespread industry that basically every person interested with at some point, have we realized this pressing need to do detailed background checks on taxi drivers?

No man, that doesn’t make sense. Because it’s NOT necessary. Because they are just driving you around. The idea that there is some huge group of drivers abusing their customers is silly.

The reality is this, tons of taxi drivers have been abusing their customers for ages, but not in an illegal way. They have just been shitty at doing their jobs. And seriously, every damn person here knows it. We have all been in a cab and had them day they can only take cash. But then when you don’t have cash they can take a credit card. And the fact that they are shitty is exactly why Uber had become so successful. Despite often costing more, the experience is better for consumers. THAT IS WHY THEY USE IT.

Seriously, you don’t freaking need the government to be involved in every god damn decision you make in your entire fucking life for God’s sake. If you don’t think Uber is safe enough for you, then don’t use them. If enough people agree, then they will be forced to deal with it. Hell, in this case, they already freaking did exactly that. But the government doesn’t add anything to the equation.

In terms of the date this went into effect, I read it fairly recently that the law as it applied to normal taxis was about a year old (the article was from 2015). I’ll see if I can find it again, but it’s hard since there are a mountain of articles about the new stuff now.

In terms of whether it’s crazy to think out was part of some larger plan to drive out the ride sharing companies? No man, it really isn’t, because that was about when the ride sharing companies were catching on and digging into the traditional taxi companies market share in a huge way.

What’s really silly here, is that taxi companies totally could just complete, by freaking being less shitty at their jobs, but instead they abuse this political cronyism to try and get laws and regulations made.

What I have noticed is large corporations lobbying and throwing their weight around, and in this one time period, them losing.

Again, I’m not sure why I have to keep pointing this out…

The guys who are winning are OTHER CORPORATIONS. They are the established taxi companies. They are the ones directly funding these new regulations being made.

That it’s Uber or Lift makes it a tougher story for some people, but if this headline had been about Comcast, or Verizon, and communities regulating them, I wonder how you would feel then?

This has already happened. The taxi companies are the Comcast, or Verizon. Uber is like Netflux, or the other new upstart content providers.

The idea that somehow the established taxi companies who have abused monopolistic conditions for decades are the poor underdogs, and big bad Uber is the evil corporation, is silly.


Drones have always been around, it’s just prior to the ease of use, they were called Remote Controlled Airplanes and helicopters. Man those guys are pissed that drones ruined everything since now even old school remote controlled airplanes follow under the new regulations, even though there were so few of them before, and had so few incidents. Sounds familiar, right? Indeed.

Anyway, I haven’t found any evidence of your conspiracy of new rules set up to shut Uber and Lyft down that were originally only applied to the Taxis Companies instead of everyone, and then later applied to Uber and Lyft.

It seems that taxis cabs are under a lot of strict regulation though, some good (having handicap capabilies) and some bad (price regulation) and some rather common ones (background checks). I have found this great article from TechCrunch about background checks that might be interesting. It links a lot of different sources

The bottom line, is that this seems like reasonable regulations that were in place prior to Lyft and Uber and there is no reason not to apply them to those and other corporations. It’s not over reach, it’s not the nanny state, it’s a municipal making a decision and having the support of its citizens. In the end, isn’t that what a democracy is all about?