Uber

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

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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.

NEXT: Steven Greenhut on Excessive Public Pay

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  1. You need rules about what’s an acceptable vehicle, who’s an acceptable driver, and what’s an acceptable way to pilot the vehicle.

    NO

    1. Without rules the roads would be anarchy! And who will build the roads then, Kristen?

      1. Somalians?

      2. Who will keep people from parking parallel to traffic?

          1. Food trucks parked perpendicularly in a public park, firing a machine gun while spinning around blindfolded!

            1. Twisted Metal was such a great game.

              1. Ever play Atomic Tanks?

      3. Without rules the roads would be anarchy India!

        Jus’ sayin’

    2. Curious what your reaction would be to a guy who crossed the center line and hit you head-on.

      Would it be more like:

      “It’s okay, guy. No rules, after all,” or

      “What the fuck? Stay on your side of the road, idiot!” ?

      1. I know, right? I’ve never gotten into an accident with a licensed driver, because licensing automatically guarantees safety and skill and mitigates recklessness and negligence!

        1. Where’d those goalposts go? They were here just a second ago!

      2. Well, how do they handle such things in “naked streets” towns?

  2. Okay. I’m going home to be with my family. The world is obviously ending quite soon.

  3. 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.”

    Personally, I’d be much more concerned about strangers offering a ride for free vs. strangers demanding money for the privilege. But since when has the trifling issue of incentives ever served to guide the paternalism of our benefactors?

    At least Yglesias seems to get it, kinda.

  4. I believe the relevant comparison is to a broken clock that is correct twice a day.

    1. More like an old leap year calendar.

      1. +28x/century.

        1. I thought it was 49x/200 years? (every four years except “odd” centuries)

          1. You’re probably right. I think I mistook the non-leap year cycle for leap years.

            In either case Yglesias has Krugman beat by a factor of ten at least.

  5. Saw an ad on TV for Silicon Valley Yellow Cab, which touts its new app and service — essentially a market-oriented reaction that probably wouldn’t have happened without competition from Uber. Supposedly same convenience but “insured” and “licensed” blah blah.

    But never mind, because the best line is the spokeswoman saying, with as much condescension as she can muster, that (unlike Uber) this isn’t “smartphone hitch-hiking.”

  6. Slate’s Yglesias Gets It Right on Uber, E-Hailing Regulation

    He’s drunk-blogging again. He’ll change his mind once he sobers up.

  7. 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 have to say that I disagree. I think that many, many people WANT to regulate EVERYTHING, but can’t think of an adequate pretext to do so in cases where no money is exchanged.

    The money exchange isn’t creating a psychological block; it’s creating a ready-made pretext to be offered as the exceptional fact that makes regulation OK.

    1. I have to say that I disagree. I think that many, many people WANT to regulate EVERYTHING,

      THIS!!!!!!!

      My now deceased elderly neighbor used to bang on about things that were or should be against the law she saw my kids doing. She liked my kids, and my daughter adored her. Yet, she would still flip out if she saw my daughter look at her bike sans helmet strapped on her head.

      1. My now deceased elderly neighbor used to bang on about things that were or should be against the law she saw my kids doing.

        The “there aught to be a law” generation.

        1. The greatest generation?

    2. No, I think there’s definitely some sort of money=unclean connection going on. See Dweebston’s comment above. By any rational standard, you should be more worried if a total stranger wants to give you a ride for free. But our stupid primitive tribal ancestor instincts tell use that sharing is good, so we should trust the guy who offers us a free ride, and not the one that wants us to pay him. We evolved to live in small tribal groups where we knew everyone, and we still havn’t adapted to live in large societies where another person’s reputation and motivations are unknown to us. We also evolved in an evironemnt where money was a disease vector as was exchange with outside tribes.

      1. So now we have the Constitution’s well known “except when money changes hands” clause.

        1. It’s commerce all the way down.

      2. I think our society is finally overcoming that atavistic sense “that sharing is good, so we should trust the guy who offers us a free ride.” If NYC and other cities can forbid people from giving free food to the homeless, then it should be child’s play for meddling local governments to make it illegal to offer, give, or take free rides from strangers (or for that matter from anyone not a member of your nuclear family).

  8. Yglesias is right, but for the wrong reasons, and he doesn’t get exactly to the point. Whether these rules are bad for the environment, or the poor, or cities, or whether they promote a single person per car lifestyle is entirely tangential.

    The problem is that they discriminate amoung drivers for reasons that have nothing to do with the safety of the driver or the riders or anyone else.

    Yglesias’ first line is right, the laws discriminate against rides for hire. But what Yglasias doesn’t do is say that disriminating is wrong, he says that the discrimination has bad effects. He’s arging that THIS kind of discrimination is bad because HE doesn’t like the effects it has – it has adverse effects on cities, the poor, the environment, and it discourages carpooling.

    Reading the above paragraphs, it’s not hard to imagine he would be all in favor of discriminating against single-rider vehicles, say mandatory taxi-hiring, if he thought it would have good effects on the poor, or the environment, or just discouraged people from being all individualistic by driving their own cars around.

    1. Exactly. Even a libertarian (well, most of us) can accept regulations that make sense and are there for public safety. Regulations that protect an unnecessary monopoly, that the government unnecessarily granted, from innovative competition have no legitimate purpose.

      1. Any regulations that aren’t tied directly to liability for harms done to others have no legitimate purpose.

        1. Which is the theoretical basis for drivers licenses and financial liability requirements (primarily insurance).

    2. Yglesias is right, but for the wrong reasons, and he doesn’t get exactly to the point. Whether these rules are bad for the environment, or the poor, or cities, or whether they promote a single person per car lifestyle is entirely tangential.

      No Yglesias is correct (although you are to wrt the larger issue of freedom). What he is straining and unable to say is that the regulations against ride share create an inefficient allocation of resources. Specifically fuel consumption and capital dedicated to transportation.

      1. Fair enough. It’s the eternal tension between the deontological and utilitarian approaches to libertarianism.

    3. Yglesias is right, but for the wrong reasons, and he doesn’t get exactly to the point.

      The only reason he’s right is that it affects him. Yglesias never learned how to drive, so cheaper car services help him. He only cares about himself.

  9. I RTFA and Yggles seems to get it about 100% wrong.

  10. I used Uber for a weekend of debauchery. Our driver joined us for dinner, overruling our restaurant choice in favor of his own, and talked nonstop, making us an hour late for the party being thrown in our honor. I don’t have a point really.

    1. you are who I thought you were, that’s for sure.

      1. Were you there that evening? Which one were you?

    2. Um…what?

      Was the guy armed? How did he manage to kidnap you?

      I can’t imagine being passive enough to allow some random guy to browbeat me into joining his dinner party.

      A hot chick…different matter. If I called Uber and hot chick was the driver and she said, “We’re driving to Afghanistan via the Bering Strait!” I would probably say yes.

      1. I can’t imagine being passive enough to allow some random guy to browbeat me into joining his dinner party.

        I’d imagine it’s pretty easy to be that passive when you depend on the State to make all your choices for you.

      2. What I said was true but omitted several details. He was my friend’s regular driver, being sort of attached to the bar he frequents. The driver was invited to dine but took charge after that. We could have spoken up but the restaurant choice was not actually a bad alternative.

        1. thanks. you were looking like a puss until you explained why your cabbie runs your life.

          1. Why don’t you go bitch at those people who let Jesus take the wheel. Talk about hazard.

            1. Jesus quite often takes the wheel when I’m in my local cab. Sometimes it’s Beto, Juan, or Francisco… Calling him a hazard is quite racist.

        2. What I said was true but omitted several details.

          A half truth is a whole lie. In this case, it also makes you look like an even bigger nimrod than usual.

      3. You would regrettably have to inform her that the Bering Strait landbridge no longer exists. Because TEH GLOBAL WARMINGZ (circa 40,000 B.C.E.)!

        1. Yes, but I would not inform her of that until we hit Alaska.

          Because that would take a few days. (Wink wink nudge nudge) Amirite? Amirite or what?

          Of course, by the time we got to Alaska the more successful my nudgery the higher the chance that I would just let her drive us into the Strait, because hot.

      4. If I called Uber and hot chick was the driver and she said, “We’re driving to Afghanistan via the Bering Strait!” I would probably say yes.

        That’s a nice land bridge you’ve got there. Did you know my ancestors came this way?

  11. I don’t have a point really.

    Same as it ever was.

    1. I think his point is that he voted for Obama.

    2. Meh. If Tony stuck to tales of drunken debauchery instead of stating his opinions, I’d like him a lot better.

      1. If only Obama were a drunken debaucher, instead of a serial progenitor of bad ideas.

  12. ***SPOILERS***

    Some pics from the set and… what the heck GOT season 4 fight scene is this? It’s off in so many ways that it can’t be the trial fight.
    http://www.flickeringmyth.com/…..hotos.html

    1. oh no I forgot that horrendous show was coming back again.

      1. So I’m not the only one that completely missed the GOT craze?

        1. Nope. I had some friends insist I watch a few episodes, and it was all talking talking talking gratuitous* sex and a vagina here and there.

          * – not that I’m a prude but come on man you’re obviously just trying to grab ratings. youporn is still a thing for most people, so stick to the plot**

          ** there is no plot in Game of Thrones

          1. ** there is no plot in Game of Thrones

            The books have a different problem, many plots, only one solution GRRM knows for a thorny plot problem. Kill everyone.

            1. Which seems to be nature’s solution to plot problems too.

              If anything, GRRM hasn’t killed enough people lately.

          2. There is a plot. It just takes several weeks to advance.

            1. And the season is 10 weeks long, so next year, maybe?

            2. You idiots obviously haven’t watched or read the series. Anyone who could watch the events unfolding and say the story doesn’t progress is insane. Red Wedding, anyone?

          3. there is no plot in Game of Thrones

            You might want to consider turning on that ‘brain’ thing of yours.

        2. Nope. The only thing I know about the show is that some young woman says she is going to take what is rightfully hers, with fire and blood.

          1. And who are we to stop her? I’d join up.

          2. She takes baths, too. Very important point not to be missed.

            1. But only if the baths are rightfully hers with fire and blood, right?

              Suum cuique; I prefer to take what’s rightfully mine with wasabi, or chocolate, as the case may be.

      2. I tried and failed to read the book, so the show is off my radar too.

        1. I tried and failed to read the book

          Me too, I think I made it about 200 pages before I gave up.

    2. Jesus. Why didn’t they just get Dinklage to play Gregor’s part, too? Does that sissy even lift?

      1. 6’9″ 420#

        I’m just hoping these pics are a setup and they dub an english voice into his helm.

      2. To be fair, it’s pretty hard to find an actor over 8 feet tall like the Mountain is in the books

    3. When is S3 coming out on iTunes?!?!

    4. I think it is the trial fight…

      SPOILERS:

      The Mountain kills an innocent bystander in the crowd during the fight, so this fits. Unfortunately it seems the showrunners are sticking to their “armor/helmets are stupid” philosophy and having him fight shirtless, which is fucking ridiculous for a KNIGHT

      1. The formal duels that come to mind have featured full armor though no helms: Bronn/dead knight & Hound/Dondarrian. Unless Gregor decides to tear off his breastplate in the middle of the fight for some reason, I doubt these photos are from the RV duel.

  13. I’m a big Uber fan and generally agree with the meme that opposition is generally generated by entrenched interests attempting to maintain the status quo. Having said that, I have a problem getting past the insurance issue. Yeah, I realize that Uber and Lyft have $1 million excess liability policies, but that’s a backstop if the drivers primary insurance doesn’t pay. I suspect most of the town cars and SUVs sent by Uber have commercial insurance but I’m also pretty sure that most of the Uberx and Lyft cars don’t. The personal insurance that most of these guys carry is going to deny coverage in the event of injury which means you have to fall back on the excess policies. To get there you will most likely need a lawyer and time. Not the most optimal of circumstances if you have a broken leg and hospital bills to pay while you’re unable to work.

    By all means let them prosper and disrupt,just make sure they can cover their mistakes when they inevitably happen.

    1. By all means let them prosper and disrupt,just make sure they can cover their mistakes when they inevitably happen.

      So sue them when they get in an accident with you. What’s the problem?

  14. Another reason I gave to the fund drive.

    The poor bastards at Reason read Yglesias so I never have to.

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