Sharing Economy

Libertarian Republican Candidate Proposes Federal Protections for Lyft, Uber, Etc.


Disruptive innovation causing traffic delays on the west side today.
Credit: Raido Kaldma / photo on flickr

Carl DeMaio, a libertarian Republican running to represent San Diego in Congress, is offering up a campaign proposal to use the strings the feds attach to funding to protect ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber from abusive regulations on the state level. His latest move comes hot on the heels of San Diego's Democratic state Assembly Rep. Ben Hueso getting snagged with a DUI just hours after voting for more restrictions for ridesharing services in the state.

Without referencing Hueso—whose brothers own a taxi company—directly, DeMaio still manages to stick a thumb in his eye when he says, "My proposal would prevent unfair monopolies by big cab companies with undue political influence and would ensure fair and open competition while giving individual consumer's freedom to decide which transportation service is best for them."

His proposed legislation would have three components:

  • Require any state or locality that accepts federal transit or transportation funding to allow ridesharing services to compete freely with traditional cab companies
  • Require any airport that receives federal funds to allow ridesharing services to drop off and pick up passengers
  • Instruct the Secretary of Transportation to report to Congress within 18 months on implementation and safety statistics of traditional cab companies versus ridesharing programs

Not sure how to feel about the anti-federalist angle. As awful as California is, should we really be looking to the federal government to save voters when they fail to hold state legislators accountable for the terrible decisions they make?

He is also angling his campaign clearly with millennials in mind, pointing out how popular the services are with the under-40 crowd. Read more here.

(Full disclosure: DeMaio is an independent contractor for the Reason Foundation research division's pension reform project.)

NEXT: Steven Greenhut on California Embracing Pension-Spiking Bonanza

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  1. Doesn’t the constitution already sort of give them federal protection?

    1. Sadly, freedom of association didn’t make it into the bill of rights. So, regulating things like this is certainly a legal thing for states and localities to do (unless it violates a lower constitution.)

      1. The government isn’t prohibited from denying me the right to allow whomever I want to get in my car? I need to brush up on my civics!

        1. Where in the US Constitution does it prohibit all levels of government from creating laws regulating how you use your car?

          I’m not saying you don’t have that right. I’m not saying that right shouldn’t be respected. I’m just saying there is no legal protection of that right in the US (or any other country).

        2. The rule of thumb is, is that if it involves money, you will be regulated in some way.

          So, sex between two people? YAY!

          Sex between two people…FOR MONEY?! BAN!

          Carpooling? YAY!

          Carpooling…FOR MONEY! BAN!

          1. Drugs?

            I think I found an exception…

            1. That’s going away too, gradually, like the sex thing.

        3. Once upon a time we had unenumerated rights while the government had enumerated and defined powers. Now it’s flipped. Government can do anything it wants unless it violates some narrowly defined rights.

          Especially if money is changing hands. That’s commerce. If they can’t control it then they ban it.

          1. If the privilieges and immunities part of the 14th amendment wasn’t completely ignored, a lot more federal action against stupid state business regulations could happen. But of course no one in government wants that.

      2. The language of 1st amendment clearly protects the right of the people to assemble.

        It does not have any exceptions. Two people should be able to assemble in an automobile for whatever purpose they want, and this right should be protected under 1A.

        Of course, the entire bill of rights, except perhaps for the 3rd amendment, is a dead letter. In the totalitarian opinions of the USSC interstate commerce powers trump everything, and interstate commerce is interpreted to cover just about everything.

        1. We have a right to assemble. We just have to ask permission first. And then if we get their permission, we must obey their commands. Freedom!

        2. That’s some really broad reading of the 1A. You’re extending the act of assembling to include any other act you do while assembled? I don’t think the Founders had that in mind. If they did then the Commerce Clause (for example) is directly contradicted by the 1A because it gives the government the power to restrict how individuals interact.

          1. That isn’t really true. The commerce clause gives the federal government the right to regulate commerce “among the several states.” This was intended to let the federal government stop states from interfering with trade, not to allow the federal government to interfere with trade between individuals. I know that ship sailed a long time ago and it ain’t coming back, but that was the actual purpose of the clause– not to allow govt to reach into anything and everything.

    2. No, unfortunately. Not since West Coast Hotel and Blaisdell.

    3. Except for the general welfare clause, the interstate commerce clause, and some technicalities about terms of office and so forth, the Constitution is a dead letter. The USG can do anything it wants and the USSC can torture constitutional language to mean anything it wants.

  2. On the federalism issue, deregulation is what the interstate commerce clause was created for. The framers anticipated the need for the federal government to prevent States from interfering with interstate commerce (i.e. a state mandating different sized railroad tracks as compared to neighboring states or taxing another state’s goods). While ridesharing isn’t necessarily interstate commerce, if the Feds limited their IC interference to deregulation, that would be half the battle.

    1. I’ve wondered how states get away with taxing another state’s goods. Because they do. It’s called a “use tax.” For example if I go to neighboring New Hampshire which doesn’t have a sales tax, buy something, and take it back home where there is a sales tax, I’m legally required to report the purchase and pay sales taxes on it. Or if I purchase something that has a sales tax that is lower than in my state, then I’m legally required to pay the difference. Same with online purchases.

      1. Those taxes are ok because no one ever pays them.

        1. For a while Maine and Mass. were trying to get some NH retailers to collect their stupid taxes for them. I don’t think that got very far.

          1. Well, every state got Amazon to collect their taxes for them. So the war has already been lost.

            1. I have yet to pay any tax on Amazon.

          2. Town Fair Tire, as I recall. It didn’t get very far because the NH state government retaliated by passing a law making it illegal to share customer data with MA tax collectors. The MA state supreme court also held that the burden to report MA taxes falls on individuals and not on the out of state business itself.

        2. Which turns into felony tax fraud when you sign your state tax return without noting and paying owed use tax.

          1. So then the country is full of felons.

            1. Every pot smoker who owns a gun is a felon.

  3. I may have missed it, but has Reason covered the libertarian candidate for governor in Florida, Adrian Wyllie? He’s polling around 10% and might even do better than that. Scott’s not particularly well-liked, and Crist is loathed by many.

    Also, no news on another Florida candidate (for a local county commission seat), Macho Liberti? Who sadly failed to win. I mean, that’s a libertarian name, even if he’s not really a libertarian (he may be–I don’t really know).

    1. Lot’s of libertarians poll around 10% right up to an election. Polls always lie about the level of support for libertarians.

      1. True, but it’s high for a Florida gubernatorial race.

        Besides, MACHO LIBERTI!

        1. Good point. The elderly are not known for being permissive or open-minded. Sea change!

      2. I don’t think it’s necessarily a lie. Many people support libertarians until it’s time to actually vote, when they realize the libertarian has no chance of winning. Who wants to vote for a loser? Especially if voting for the loser may put a Progressive into office by siphoning votes from a less-evil Republican.

        1. True. If you know you’re going to get an evil statist, it feels better to get the evil statist you voted for, rather than one you didn’t vote for.

          1. I’m not so sure. As I note below, if you vote for an evil statist who get’s elected, you are partly responsible for the evil things they do in office.

            1. I was being sarcasmic.

        2. I’d think voting for a loser would be a more popular option. I insist on it. That way whatever happens is not your fault. Voting for someone who might win is dangerous.

          1. Ah, but it is your fault. In a close race, a vote for a libertarian is a vote that could have gone to a Republican, which amounts to a vote for a Progressive.

            So by voting for a loser libertarian, you ensure a victory for the Progressive.

            Personally I vote my conscience. If someone wants to spin it as a vote for a Democrat, well they can go fuck themselves.

            1. Yeah, that’s about where I’m at too.

              The “not may fault” part is mostly a joke I use to annoy people who insist that you had to vote for Obama (because war on women or some such) even though they have hated pretty much everything he has done.

            2. Wait, but doesn’t that mean every vote for the Republican is a vote that could have gone for the Libertarian? So, maybe if those damned Republicans would just get with the program, stop voting for their spoiler candidates, and vote Libertarian, we’d stop having to live with the progressives winning the elections.

              1. That’s how I prefer to look at it.

                And not just republicans. There are still a few liberals who aren’t full on socialists and who want actual personal freedom. They should be voting libertarian too.

          2. I almost always vote for the LP candidate, when that’s an option, but this time I might consider voting for Scott, because I think Crist would be a horrific disaster. He’s clearly running for the benefit of the plaintiffs’ bar, which is among one of the greater evils in this country. Besides, he fucking sucked as governor before.

            1. Would Crist really be that much different than Scott, though? It’s like Obama and Romney. We knew Obama was going to be terrible, but not that much worse than Romney. Probably imperceptibly worse than Romney. So screw it. Here’s a vote for GayJay.

              1. Yeah. That whole Repeal and Replace thing is what turned me off from Romney. Once you remove cancer, you don’t replace it. So GayJay got my vote.

              2. Crist is horrific and has an agenda to rape and murder Florida for some crazed plaintiffs’ attorneys. We have enough trouble with insurers as it is without some additional bullshit going on in Tallahassee.

      3. I’m not sure the polls actually lie. If libertarian respondents are like myself and most libertarians I know, when election day finally rolls around, a large fraction don’t bother voting because it really is pointless.

  4. OT: The lede is buried in this link, but it mentions an affordable housing project which costs $440,000 per home.

    Despite the site’s odd name, it is entirely SFW.

    1. At those prices this project better be on the moon.

      1. North Philadelphia.

        1. I’d rather live on the moon.

  5. Not sure how to feel about the anti-federalist angle.

    Here’s an angle:

    When confronted with an expansion of the state, the libertarian position is to oppose it, and when an opportunity arises to contract the state, the libertarian position will endorse it. When an opportunity to use the state as it is now constituted to expand individual liberty arises, the libertarian position should endorse it as well.

    Federalism per se is not inherently libertarian. Anything that advances individual liberty as libertarians understand it (not the bogus, contrived distortions held by progressives) should be favored by libertarians.

    1. I’m always puzzled by libertarians who argue against the SC having the power to strike down laws. Seems like one of the few good things that the federal government does. There should be a lot more of that.

      1. I’m always puzzled by libertarians who argue against the SC having the power to strike down laws.

        Who makes that argument? I mean, I thought striking down laws was their job. Checks and balances and all that.

        1. I think I’ve seen John do it when he’s in Red Tony mode.

          1. You mean, days that end in Y.

        2. I can’t recall names, but regulars here have made comments about that from time to time. The power to strike down laws is not explicitly in the constitution. But what the fuck else is the Supreme Court good for when it comes to checks and balances? I think some people think it giver the court too much power relative to the other branches.

          1. I can’t recall names, but regulars here have made comments about that from time to time. The power to strike down laws is not explicitly in the constitution.

            It isn’t. The power of judicial review is nowhere in the Constitution. It is one that John Marshall seized for the court (Marbury v. Madison) through some creative Constitutional reading and the introduction of various delegates from the Constitutional Convention.

            1. Doesn’t seem like much of a stretch, though. The constitution is also law which courts have to properly apply. Since it is the supreme law, if other laws conflict with it, a supreme court (or any court really) would be pretty useless unless it could determine that the constitution has precedence over other laws.

              1. Certain pointyheaded law people have argued that Supreme Court, as a co-equal branch of the same federal government, has no power to dictate to the other two how the Constitution is to be interpreted and that it is for each branch to determine and apply the Constitution to the best of that branch’s understanding.

                1. Partially correct:

                  Marbury v. Madison is completely outside the Constitution. The Supreme Court made up judicial review (for better or worse). My reading of the Founders leads me to believe that the reviewers of the laws for Constitutionality would be the people, not a branch of govt.

  6. I’m pretty happy to have the federal government force states to regulate things less.
    If all the federal government did was provide a basic national defense, make commerce more free between states and strike down state laws that inhibit personal and economic freedom, that would be OK with me.

  7. The google+ button is broken. How am I supposed to be one of the three people who click on it now?

  8. Not sure how to feel about the anti-federalist angle. As awful as California is, should we really be looking to the federal government to save voters when they fail to hold state legislators accountable for the terrible decisions they make?

    No. Escaping from federal interference is even more difficult than escaping from state interference.

    1. This. It’s also much harder to change federal law than state or local laws.

    2. So, there’s a problem with interference of the interfering states by the feds, because we can always just move to another less interfering state?

      This seems a bit at odds with the idea of maximizing individual rights. The idea that each state can screw us out of our liberty and we should whack-a-mole our way to the last remaining bastion of liberty, until it too becomes excessively restrictive doesn’t seem very appealing to me.

      Any interference which prevents interference with INDIVIDUALS should be welcomed, regardless of the framers intent. 50 tyrannies of varying degrees should not be the goal.

      The constitution has already proven inadequate at protecting our liberty. Forfeiting an opportunity to salvage some individual liberty, merely to protect an already proven ineffective theoretical protection seems silly.

      1. The idea that each state can screw us out of our liberty and we should whack-a-mole our way to the last remaining bastion of liberty,

        But that’s not the effect, statism requires lots of things generally unique to central governments. One of the big ones is the ability to inflate your way out of trouble. States don’t have that ability. Taxation would be a much bigger issue in states. Currently, the fed collects a shit ton of taxes and distributes it to the states, in many ways they have a captive population. But if the difference in tax rates between states was 40% instead of 5% there would be more incentive to keep taxes low to retain and attract residents and business. Any state that expanded government too much would shortly collapse as money escapes to friendlier places. There is also the economy of scale issue with the WOD and other federal laws. They could be prohibitively expensive at a state or local level.

      2. So, there’s a problem with interference of the interfering states by the feds, because we can always just move to another less interfering state?

        No. Because it’s easier to change state laws than federal laws.

  9. Ben Hueso is the guy who made the bizarre accusations against Demaio.

  10. should we really be looking to the federal government to save voters when they fail to hold state legislators accountable for the terrible decisions they make?

    Would you feel any differently if a state or states legalized slavery or banned speech?

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