Slate's Yglesias Gets It Right on Uber, E-Hailing Regulation


I've jabbed at Slate's Matthew Yglesias in the past over things like his uncomprehending and unreasoned hostility toward gold-as-money, but when he's right, he's right, getting exactly to the point on the supposed desperate need to regulate such smartphone-app hired ride hailing services as Uber:

The regulatory issue around Uber is whether the rules governing rides-for-hire need to be drastically different than the rules governing driving-yourself-around.

….my answer is always the same: Of course there are significant public safety concerns about people driving vans. But the concerns are essentially the same whether it's a delivery van or a dollar van. You need rules about what's an acceptable vehicle, who's an acceptable driver, and what's an acceptable way to pilot the vehicle.

But you don't need rules that specifically discriminate against rides for hire. The right way to think about this panoply of rules is that it's all part of a regulatory structure designed to make single passenger automobile traffic and one-car-per-adult the normative American lifestyles. Anything you want to do around driving yourself is presumptively legal, and anything you want to do around hiring someone else to drive you is presumptively illegal. That's a worldview that's bad for the environment, bad for cities, bad for the poor, bad for many classes of physically impaired people, and all-in-all bad for America. But by all means, regulate cars-for-hire. Just regulate them the same way you regulate the other cars.

This is not necessarily endorsing his particular vision of what regulations are appropriate for private drivers, which he goes on about in his article, just the point that drivers for hire don't need any more regulation than drivers not for hire.

Not that Yglesias would be the one to notice this, but Ayn Rand was on to something in noting there is a psychological block and objection to anything people perceive as done to earn money that haunts and warps too many Americans' ability to make intelligent judgements involving what behaviors do or don't need to be "regulated."

As cartoonist Chester Brown argued in his graphic memoir Paying For It, if people can wrap their heads around the fact that you should be able to choose who to have sex with for free, why shouldn't you be able to choose who you have sex with for money?

I wrote here on California's regulatory regime on the likes of Uber and Lyft back in October.