So I was considering a post on Lyft and Uber over the last couple of days, just trying to organize my thoughts on it. See, I’ve been driving for Uber for a couple of months now, and it’s great. I make quite good money at it, the folks I drive around are always really nice and fun to chat with, and I can work around the demands of tending to the young ‘un with ease. It’s one of the best jobs I ever had, in truth.
My premise in pondering such a post was this: Lyft and Uber are perfect examples of the capitalist ideal at its very best. These companies have leveraged technological advances in a very creative fashion, conjuring a market from nowhere that satisfies a demand nobody even suspected might exist before. They compete with a tightly controlled taxi industry that is wholly at the mercy of government interference. State and/or local authority then steps in to pick winners and losers by putting its clumsy thumbs on the scale in government’s usual fashion: regulation, taxation, and licensing requirements that effectively restrict competition and inhibit innovation.
The fact that the ridesharing services are running rings around their government-strangled competition is made evident enough by the screaming from the taxicab companies about unfair competition and demands for the playing field to be leveled by forcing rideshare companies into the government’s less than tender embrace. Those objections aren’t without merit, to be sure. But only if you concede the premise that micromanagement of all economic activity is the proper role of government in the first place.
A lot of my riders have told me they never had bothered with taxis before; unlike NYC, cabs here are mostly a last resort for the desperate or hopelessly drunk. The cabs themselves are often dirty and poorly-maintained rattletraps, their drivers surly and unreliable, or so I’ve been told. Also unlike NYC, you can’t just hail one from the street. You call for one, and then you wait. And wait. And wait.
I’ve been anticipating with dread the day when government would at last begin to assert its right to meddle, which was inevitable—waddling roughly into the room to ruin everybody’s good thing with its usual greedy presumption. And, well, here it comes.
OAKLAND, Calif.—A local city council member is beginning to float the idea of taxing ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft as a possible way to raise millions of dollars and help pay for local public transportation and infrastructure improvements.
If the effort is successful, Oakland could become the first city in California—Uber and Lyft’s home state—to impose such a tax. However, it’s not clear whether Oakland or any other city in the Golden State has the authority to do so under current state rules.
Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan told the East Bay Express that she wants the city council to put forward a ballot measure that would tax such rides.
“The power to tax is a separate power regardless of whether or not you can regulate something,” said Kaplan in an interview with the alt-weekly. “They’re using our streets to do business, and we don’t currently have any revenue from it.”
Well, we can’t have THAT, now can we?
I don’t know how things are set up in the People’s Republic of California, but here in NC I’m required to pay taxes on: my vehicle registration; my driver’s license; the purchase of the vehicle itself; tires, maintenance, and repairs; every gallon of gasoline I buy; and the income I make when I’m working. Those taxes are not insignificant, even individually. Add ’em all up and they’re a long, long way from “don’t currently have any revenue from it,” thank you very much. And it still isn’t enough.
Thus does the ruination of yet another fledgling industry begin. It’s becoming hugely annoying to me when I hear some Proggie asswipe bitch about what an awful thing capitalism is, as if any such thing even existed anymore. It’s for sure and certain those types are no longer familiar enough with it to recognize it if it walked up and bit them on the ass.
Via Stephen, who says: “Your typical politician exhibits a level of greed which would make most businessmen blush.” Ain’t THAT the stinkin’ truth.