One of my favorite political stories comes from my friend Michelle Steel, an Orange County Supervisor and formerly a member of the State Board of Equalization in California (BOE). When on the BOE, which oversees much of the tax structure in California including sales tax, she served with Judy Chu who is now a Congresswoman (D-CA). In the eight years that Steel served on the BOE, she could only remember Chu voting in favor of the taxpayer once. But every time she went out somewhere with Chu, she would tell a story about her support for the taxpayers and tell about that one vote. Steel was forced to hear Chu prattle on innumerable times. So much for care about the common man from Democrats.
I bring this up because of the recent uproar about Uber and Lyft being challenged in many cities -- not only in the U.S. but in many cities across the world. Hillary Clinton has made negative (yet typically ambiguous) comments about the on-time economy. Certainly the left-wing mayor of New York City was a prime example of the anti-Uber crowd. He was supposedly defending the rights of the cabbies. I don’t believe it for a second. The Left used to care about the common man now just mouth platitudes and defend the rights of unionized workers who feed their coffers through union dues.
My experience with this comes first-hand through my wife. After Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor of Los Angeles, she received a call asking her to be on the Taxicab Commission for Los Angeles. They said they wanted a businesswoman on the commission. She asked what I thought about her accepting the appointment. I told her if we were in New York we could become rich from the graft approving medallions -- the system that limits the amount of taxis in NYC while driving up the entry into the business. There is no such graft system in Los Angeles, but she took the appointment anyway as a means to fulfill her civic duty. I soon learned not to tell anybody about her appointment because I would be harangued for ten minutes about the various problems they had with LA cabs.
I remember her going off to her first meeting. It was like our children’s first days of school. She was so bright-eyed and optimistic. She would come home from meetings all excited about the good work she was doing. She would tell me about the chair of the five-person commission who was a Republican and her new friend who was the mother of twin NBA basketball stars and vice-chair of the commission. She was making new friends and learning about what the commission did.
A lot of their work was dealing with problems of the drivers. They had to adjudicate disciplinary actions and other matters that directly affected the drivers. She learned how the drivers worked hard and made relatively small incomes for their efforts. Though the drivers were not always innocent, she was inclined to work in their favor as their livelihood was at stake. The wife became totally invested in the process and responsibility of supervising 2,400 taxicabs and their drivers.
But then some of the glow began to dim when she would tell me about the other two members of the commission. They were either left-wing lawyers or activists. She would complain how these two would consistently bloviate, dragging out meetings and always voting against the drivers. She would complain about how many times she did not even get the point of what they were saying as the two meandered with meaningless commentary – and then voted against the poor working stiff.
Then the vice-chair retired from the commission and things changed. A left-wing attorney was appointed to fill the fifth spot. Though my wife became vice-chair, there were now three left-of-center attorney/activists. They now had a majority with more long-winded statements, and my wife and the chair were consistently losing in any vote supporting the drivers. Gloom began to set in as the wife told me story after story of the challenges the drivers faced with little or no relief from the commission.
The final blow came when the chair retired from the commission. He was replaced by another left-wing attorney/activist. My wife ran for chair, but was out numbered 4-1 by the little cabal now in control of the commission. She continued going to meetings, but came home with a look of despair. Now she had to listen to four people blabbering and the same results were happening – the drivers would always lose. We spoke about it and we mutually decided it was no longer worth the pain.
The old economy puts the fate of workers in the hands of government wonks. Most capitalists are too busy making a living so it leaves matters to left-wing government advocates. The new economy puts the decisions back in the hands of the most important person – the customer (you). Instead of having a commission telling you whether your driver is any good, the market tells you how good your driver is and you can look it up on the Internet. Whether you are happy or unhappy with your ride, you get to tell the next person what you think. Try to complain to a cab company!
There is a reason people are using Lyft and Uber. They like it. The hate the old system now that they know there is an alternative. But Democrats and the Left want control because control is power and money. It does not matter whether it is better for the customer or the service provider or competition – control and power are what is important.
When you hear Democrats speaking about how they are protecting you from big, powerful forces, they don’t care about us average schmoos. They just think they know better thus forgetting the common man. Go see Judy Chu and hear about her one vote for the taxpayer and then ask her to tell more stories. Their actions belie their words. I have stated for a long time the only thing progressive about these people is their desire to progressively, take more of your money, and progressively restrict your freedom. This is another prime example.