You may have heard of this trendy new form of transportation called ‘ride sharing’. The endless possibilities of the internet, enabled by a capitalist free market, have provided us with yet another convenient and easy to use service. Need to get somewhere? Whip out your phone and press a button, and someone shows up at your exact location to take you elsewhere for a predetermined price. Most of you probably just call it Uber. You can read about how Uber came to be on their website.
No, seriously. Do it. It’s a cool story.
As the company become more popular, it evolved into not only a potential service for the average Joe, but also a job; one that can be done anywhere at any time. If your home is in need of some extra cash or your family a secondary income, you can become an Uber driver on the side.
As a driver you get to set your rates and your hours, effectively acting as your own boss. You’re essentially starting a business with no need for start-up capital, no brick and mortar store, and barely any paperwork. It really is uber cool (hey oh, I get it now!) and incredibly empowering to any motivated individual.
Its freedom, baby.
The app connects people by their needs and good nature in a way that traditional yellow taxi companies are having trouble keeping up with.
The question I’m proposing is in regard to that last tidbit. Taxis falling by the way side; is that a bad thing? Are we to shed tears for traditional yellow cabs falling behind and likely going out of business? Beyond shedding tears, should someone step in and slow down Uber’s progress because it’s been deemed unfair to the taxis? The state of Massachusetts thinks so.
Oh sure, anyone would sympathize with someone losing their job, don’t misunderstand. But this has always been the natural cycle of a free market where consumer’s demand that products be improved over time. These demands are not directly made through elections or petitions of any kind, but rather with the choices we make aggregated over time.
When a million people set out to buy a widget and the majority of them, after assessing the value of each one to their own life, choose to buy widget #1, then Widget #1, Inc gets a boost in revenue and reinvests that capital to improve the product and distribute it to a million more people. The advent of the internet has made this accelerate at exponential rates because now consumers can buy their stuff from home instead of a store, reducing companies overhead.
This could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
Uber is what progress looks like, along with Netflix revolutionizing the media industry, Apple revolutionizing personal communication, and countless other freaking awesome products that we all enjoy on a day to day basis. Just imagine what awesome company will give Uber a run for its money in ten years, improving our standard of living even more with their better mouse trap.
So why does the Massachusetts government feel the need to step in and impose a new fee on each ride sharing transaction, one that I’m sure will never go up (wink wink, right?).
The answer is simple really.
Massachusetts is doing what big government does best: controlling people and picking winners and losers. You see, taxi cab companies have been around a long time. They have unions who actively cozy up to big government politicians in exchange for favor. After all, why should anyone have to compete in a market under the same rules as everyone else when it’s easier to just funnel donations to the right people in power?
It would have been an entirely reasonable response to Uber for the taxi companies to develop their own ride-sharing program. Companies adapt to new technologies and competition all the time.
Look at AT&T. Their name is American Telephone & Telegraph. That means zilch in the twenty-first century, but their company is worth $250 billion because they adapted to the market’s demands.
Who among us would have opposed Henry Ford manufacturing cars because it buried the horse buggy tycoons (of which I can name none…)? Who among us have recently taken a moment of silence to remember those chorded phones and bulky answering machines that have been lost to dusty attics and yard sales?
Personally, I’m comfortable and excited that taxis are headed to the island of unwanted products, not because it’s bad for them, but because the reason is good for all of us.
What I truly don’t understand is how government can behave this way and yet continue to get re-elected? Government is as the energizer commercial goes; it just keeps growing and growing and growing and growing. It does very little to serve us, it’s current primary purpose being to confiscate money from one group and redistribute to another in the name of fairness.
Government has grown so large, operating so far beyond its original scope and Constitutional duties, that it has the power and authority to control our daily lives. It’s a paradox of human nature. We love Uber, Netflix, iPhones, and more, all products of the private sector, and yet millions of us are content supporting a government who is happy to stand as a gate keeper to their success because they know better what’s good for us than we do.
It’s maddening. I hope the pendulum swings towards the side of liberty sooner rather than later.