Conservatives in Action: or how I learned to love Uber


#61

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 I get in the back of a stranger’s car?

I mean, hundreds of women are sexually assaulted every year in London in unlicensed minicabs. It’s not some nebulous risk. There’s a reason we have a licensing regime and it’s not just protectionism.


#62

Then why don’t you just not use those services?


#63

I don’t. But the point is, it’s not remotely unreasonable to want to be sure that someone isn’t a sex offender before getting in the back of their car, or allowing them to invite people into it.


#64

And Uber and Lyft do their own background checks.

If you don’t trust them, then you don’t need to use them. Use some other service.

But there is no benefit to you pushing your decision upon other consumers.


#65

Other than public safety, sure.

This isn’t about the Austin thing. It’s about the proposition I was responding to that there’s no need for background checks at all, we should just take our chances.


#66

I guess I’m generally of the opinion that as adults, we can make informed decisions about the risks we want to take.


#67

Which is a fine principle in the abstract. I’m just not sure that allowing taxi firms to compete on propensity for customer rape is a triumph of consumer choice, any more than allowing car makers to compete on seatbelt failure rates would be. I’m also dubious how informed most people are going to be about individual firms’ background check policies and records, especially at 2 in the morning after a night on the lash. I mean, there are hundreds of minicab companies in London alone.


#68

Yeah, this. We draw lines where we don’t expect people to be perfectly informed and rational consumers all the time. I can’t choose to go with a cheaper but unlicensed contractor to put an addition on my house, to choose a random example out of literally hundreds.

Regulation isn’t always evil, though if that’s your first principle I can see how libertarianism could infect your worldview.


#69

I have to say that’s a pretty compelling argument, Ginger Yellow. I’m often on Timex’s side with many of these issues (government regulation vs. free market selection). However, this is one of those circumstances where it seems that makes a little more sense.


#70

I think the interesting argument with Uber is that because it’s cheaper, more convenient and perhaps more culturally acceptable (?) that they should be allowed to ignore the restrictions and registrations that government and industry have previously set up. On the other hand, those government and industry regulations have failed to modernize and perform acceptably (in many cases) for years.

I know many people who love Uber, and even one guy who drives for them. I see Uber more as a consumer revolt than anything else.


#71

I really like that way of looking at it. Hadn’t ever quite thought of it that way before, but you’re absolutely right.


#72

People like Uber because it is a cheaper better experience than alternatives. Customers have more power and choice.

Taxis lose on choice which is why they want govt regs to block Uber.


#73

But don’t you think there are consumers who use Uber who would never think of using other unregulated services? I don’t use taxis very often so I don’t really care. But I will admit that your average taxi ride is not necessarily a pleasant experience.


#74

A few points here.

First, why should I have to go through additional regulation, based on the notion that some criminal MAY drive a cab? I’m not a criminal. There is no significant statistical chance of me being a criminal. So you want to add burdensome regulation, simply because you are afraid that someone may have committed a crime in the past?

And you laugh about the notion of competition driving background checks, despite the fact that it actually worked, and resulted in both Uber and Lyft doing exactly that. The market demand forced then to do that. The problem with cities like Austin assessing in their own requirements, is that every city started doing their own regulations, which are totally different. Uber actually tried to get Texas to make a SouthView statewide law regulating it, so that it could be manageable, but it was blocked. But as it stands, the market actually resulted in the companies implementing their own background check process.

Beyond that, there are strong reasons to question whether the state rub backgrounds checks are actually effective. In Austin, Uber found multiple municipally permitted taxi drivers who had records that actually prohibited them from being Uber drivers, including assault, sexualized assault, and DWI convictions. So the idea that the state can do this stuff better is not really substantiated anyway.

In London, we’re not really taking about Uber and Lyft, but rather just individual unlicensed drivers. All if ubers’s drivers in London, for instance, are actually fully licensed as drivers. But even so, the idea that crime is confined to the unlicensed minicabs isn’t actually true. The large numbers of crimes reported in London for cab drivers actually also cover licensed cab drivers.


#75

Things like this are why regulations exist in the first place. The problem is not too much regulation.


#76

The interesting thing about Uber and Lyft is that they’re global. A bad story about a crazy Uber driver in NY affects their business in London. In comparison, cab companies are extremely local. There’s very little consistency there or frankly even a lot of incentive to self-regulate. Their own business interests are, arguably, the best form of regulation in our information society.

Regulation is, like many things, a matter of degree. Regulation is not, per se, always good or always bad. Austin is perfectly in its rights to pass their regulations. Uber/Lyft are, in turn, perfectly in their rights to get out of that market.


#77

Regulation is, like many things, a matter of degree. Regulation is not, per se, always good or always bad. Austin is perfectly in its rights to pass their regulations. Uber/Lyft are, in turn, perfectly in their rights to get out of that market.

This is, ultimately, the truth of the situation.

What sucks, is that a bunch of folks who liked using uber and lyft are screwed now.


#78

First, why should I have to go through additional regulation, based on the notion that some criminal MAY drive a cab? I’m not a criminal. There is no significant statistical chance of me being a criminal. So you want to add burdensome regulation, simply because you are afraid that someone may have committed a crime in the past?

I really don’t understand the argument being made here. It’s true of almost any regulation - it’s not aimed at the good actors, but the bad actors. And it’s really not a major burden, as evidenced by the fact that tens of thousands of drivers actually do it here, including Uber.

The problem with cities like Austin assessing in their own requirements, is that every city started doing their own regulations, which are totally different. Uber actually tried to get Texas to make a SouthView statewide law regulating it, so that it could be manageable, but it was blocked. But as it stands, the market actually resulted in the companies implementing their own background check process.

Sure, I don’t think it should be city-by-city either, it should in principle be a national thing (though I’ve no idea if that would in practice be feasible in the US). If it’s a public safety issue, that’s true no matter where you are. Like I say, I’m arguing against a no-licensing policy, not in favour of Austin’s.

In London, we’re not really taking about Uber and Lyft, but rather just individual unlicensed drivers. All if ubers’s drivers in London, for instance, are actually fully licensed as drivers. But even so, the idea that crime is confined to the unlicensed minicabs isn’t actually true. The large numbers of crimes reported in London for cab drivers actually also cover licensed cab drivers.

Agreed, though there were some stats leaked recently that broke out unlicensed cabs, and it does seem the risks are much higher and enforcement harder. And that’s all I’m asking for, really, that Uber drivers et al be licensed like every other minicab firm. They should compete on their technology, their pricing and their service, not on ability to skirt the law.


#79

I really don’t understand the argument being made here. It’s true of almost any regulation - it’s not aimed at the good actors, but the bad actors. And it’s really not a major burden, as evidenced by the fact that tens of thousands of drivers actually do it here, including Uber.

But in the case of Uber and Lyft, they are acting on their own in order to become more attractive options for their customers.

But in the case we’re talking about here, it’s a bunch of individual municipalities who are all making their own individual regulations, none of which have an indication that they are better than what the private sector is doing on its own. It just happens to be that the method of their regulation is more disruptive to the new business models.

Agreed, though there were some stats leaked recently that broke out unlicensed cabs, and it does seem the risks are much higher and enforcement harder. And that’s all I’m asking for, really, that Uber drivers et al be licensed like every other minicab firm. They should compete on their technology, their pricing and their service, not on ability to skirt the law.

But they are competing on their technology and service. Not being licensed isn’t actually giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace, because the licensing restrictions are generally trivial for an established cab company to deal with, since they have centralized processing for all their drivers. The reason why Uber was crushing the local cab companies in Austin is twofold:

  1. Their service was better, in seemingly every way.
  2. Actual cabs in Austin are restricted in number by the city. There are only like 500+ cabs allowed in the city. Yellow Cab owns like 400 of them, with two other companies owning smaller numbers. But demand in the city is greater than that number.

Ultimately though, in regard to the city’s regulations, I think that you’re falling prey to an unsubstantiated belief that regulations actually achieve their stated goals. That such regulations will actually make things safer. But I’m not sure that’s really the case, certainly when compared to the companies’ own background checks. Perhaps when compared to zero background checks, but the market worked for that… press about bad drivers hurt Uber’s business, so they responded by doing background checks.

I just don’t think that the government is necessary to intervene in this case.


#80

The government didn’t intervene, the people of Austin did when Uber and Lyft wouldn’t compromise in any way with what seemed and seem like reasonable requests, even if it doesn’t fit into their business model. Some nimble young company will be started tomorrow that will happily do what Uber and Lyft refused to do, and they will own Austin. Go capitalism.