Level The Playing Field

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The Parisian taxi drivers are partly protesting against economic regulations in cities where taxi drivers have to pay for expensive medallions while Uber drivers do not. But, in a larger sense, they’re actually protesting against our increased impatience. We don’t have time to wait for a cab, because someone around the corner is willing to do the same job more cheaply. Our phones make us more productive while we wait, and yet we don’t ever want to wait. As individuals, taxi drivers are stuck: their industry is controlled by outdated regulation and now they face ruthless free-market competition. Meanwhile, the habits and the expectations of their customers are changing—people are voting with their wallets and with their time. And that’s not something that protests in the streets, whether in Paris or Nottinghamshire, are likely to change.

My bold in the quote above - I 100 percent disagree with that thought. Always good to see articles trying to explain the other side of the anti Uber crusades that are happening all over the world. I am particularly watching developments in London - and though London clashes aren’t yet causing London to be burning … the underlying issues are the same. But that highlighted part of the text is just plain wrong - if not to say stupid. Walk out onto the streets of London - you can get a cab - most times. Sure there are occasions when it is tougher - that’s what surge pricing brings to the party - I like that. What I object to is Uber is blatantly breaking the law - and spineless politicians in certain countries … I’m looking at you Cameroon and Boris - do nothing to protect the livelihoods of people. My belief is that cabbies the world over simply want a level playing field. The medallions and taxes and fierce legislation that they operate under is what prevents them from competing. Either free them from those shackles - or make Uber play to the same rules - or class them as mini cabs - that taxis in London have competed with quite happily for years. By the way - if you are in London and want to support Taxis - but still want the ‘instant gratification’ experience - try Hailo or Get Taxi or a mini cab version Kabbee - and guess what they not only play by the rules - but are much more to do with ‘the sharing economy’ than Uber ever will be. Meanwhile in this whole debate, I am often reminded of how Amazon got its start … by working a loop hole in tax law - where they bypassed the issue of sales tax for years - until legislation finally caught up. Too late for a large number of small businesses that were driven into the ground. FedEx and UPS got their start by governments preventing their own postal services from offering similar services - and we know what state the Post Office and USPS is in today. And one more example … Ever wonder why BT doesn’t have a mobile phone service ? Oh wait - they did - it was called O2 - and the government forced them to divest themselves of the business - and now O2 is owned by Telephonica - the Spanish equivalent of BT - and as I write this might now be owned by Hutchison Whampoa. In short order, the commercial businesses simply take the high profit part of the business away .. and so the rot sets in. In every single case these businesses have essentially destroyed public service businesses and our governments ( the people that supposedly represent us) have allowed them to do so - by refusing to allow the existing entities to compete. In all fairness, they worked loopholes - and the Government let them. In Uber’s case they are often breaking the law. And this time the government does nothing. For once - lets do this right.

[ Source : The New Yorker ]

July 6, 2015