September 21st, 2018


Why governments want to run Uber off the road

Ron Hart

By Ron Hart

Published December 12, 2014

Why governments want to run Uber off the road
The ridesharing company Uber was recently valued at $40 billion for providing a valuable service to Americans. Now, if only the company can dodge government interference.

When I was just out of grad school, broke and working in New York City, four buddies and I split an apartment in Brooklyn – before Brooklyn was cool – and we used gypsy cabs to take us home late at night. If traditional Yellow Cabs would even go to our neighborhood, the fares would be twice that charged by our guy, Raul. His motto was, “We will go anywhere; we ain’t Yellow.”

I have always had a soft spot for hardworking immigrants pursuing the American Dream. Raul was reliable and affordable. There is nothing more American than a foreign taxi driver.

Even back then, it was clear to me, 22 years old and living in New York City, that certain things are expensive because they are government-regulated: cable, health care, energy, education, etc. Costs rise, and value declines whenever the visible and sticky fingers of government are involved. When the “invisible hand” of the free market is allowed to operate unfettered, costs go down, and value increases.

Ever wonder why your cable bill is so high, and the service is so lousy? Just look at how much your cable company spends on lobbyists and on political contributions to those who “regulate” them. Politicians get paid for their protection so cable and cab companies can gouge the public.

Instead of calling a fixed-rate, local cab company and hoping it does not send a felon in a 20-year-old, nasty car that he probably lives in, you can use your cellphone to e-hail an eager-to-please Uber owner/operator of a nice town car or SUV. There is no tipping, you rate the driver immediately on your phone, and he is paid accordingly.

New York cabbies drive dangerously. Few taxis seem to have shock absorbers, and they smell. When I was in town during Fashion Week, my taxi driver kept introducing his new fragrance.

How could an honest city council member oppose Uber and similar rideshare outfits? They provide a great service and create countless first-time business owner-drivers.

Uber is so good that some local governments want no part of it. Elected officials will always yield to their self-interests by taking money from the special interests who pay them for favors, such as protecting existing taxi companies. They do so at the expense of the consumers and voters.

What is unfolding now with Uber is the itching attempt by big, urban (aka Democratic) governments to run the service out of business. Government bureaucrats looked at the rideshare business and realized that something was wrong with it: They were not getting a cut. Too much value was going to the customer!

Governments like to dip their beaks everywhere. You can rent a car on Hotwire for $19 a day. Government taxes and fees can total about as much as the car rental charges, and for what? Hertz or Dollar, for example, bought the car (paid taxes), registered it (paid taxes), got the car to the airport, booked my reservation, delivered the car, etc. Then they rental companies pay additional city, state and federal taxes on their profits.

Government makes more per gallon on your gasoline (about 59 cents) than the “greedy oil companies” (8 cents). The only thing “green” about liberals is the money they expect to take from us.

The impetus for what became the aggressive New York police choking death of 350-pound Eric Garner was his selling of untaxed cigarettes. He was targeted because government wants its outrageous $5.85 tax per pack. Al Sharpton, the frequent guest of the White House because he supports the Obama administration, owes $4.5 million in taxes, the New York Times reported. Government thugs jacked up Eric Garner over $5.85, but not Sharpton over $4.5 million.

If you think there is not a cabal of government and the cab companies it “regulates,” look no further than New York City. Why are there no trains to Manhattan from any of the surrounding airports? You have to take cabs, and nothing is done to encourage cab sharing to the city. In New York, the only time a cab is “shared” is when it breaks down, and one New Yorker takes the hubcaps while another steals the tires.

Even the credit card tipping system in New York taxis is rigged: Tips start at 20 percent and only go higher. Prices are fixed, and there is little competition.

“Limousine liberals” like “Nanny” Pelosi and Harry Reid are chauffeured around Washington, so they don’t have to worry about cabs or their cost. We pay. They probably would not get picked up anyway, because cabbies tend to refuse rides to passengers who are likely to rob them.