The Politicians' War on Uber

When politicians threaten to destroy innovative companies, they're threatening us all.


Hillary Clinton gave a speech warning that the new "sharing economy" of businesses such as the ride-hailing company Uber is "raising hard questions about workplace protections." 

Democrats hate what labor unions hate, and a taxi drivers' union hates Uber, too. Its NYC website proclaims, "Uber has the money. But we are the PEOPLE!" 

The taxi cartels, which provide inferior service and are micromanaged by government, don't like getting competition from efficient companies like Uber.

Clinton didn't mention Uber by name, but we don't have to wonder which company she meant. The New York Times reports that Clinton contacted Uber and told them her speech would threaten to "crack down" on companies that don't treat independent contractors as full employees. Apparently, Democrats think something's wrong if people are independent contractors.

But no driver is forced to work for Uber. People volunteer. They like the flexibility. They like getting more use out of their cars. It's win-win-win. Drivers earn money, customers save money while gaining convenience, and Uber makes money. Why does Clinton insist on interfering with that? 

Clinton's "social democrat" pal, New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio, wants to crack down on Uber by limiting how many drivers they may hire. Uber cleverly responded with an app—a "de Blasio option"—that shows people how much longer they'd have to wait if de Blasio gets his way. 

Good for Uber for fighting back. I wish more companies did. 

Federal Express didn't.  

FedEx Ground classified drivers as independent contractors. Again, drivers were willing to drive, FedEx Ground was willing to pay, and customers got packages faster and more reliably than they did from the U.S. Postal Service. 

But lawyers built a class action suit on behalf of FedEx drivers, saying they should be treated as employees, paying payroll tax, getting workman's compensation, receiving benefits. FedEx settled the case for $228 million and began abandoning its independent contractor system. 

Uber's use of independent drivers—who use their own cars—is now called analogous to FedEx's use of delivery drivers. 

That means Uber may soon have to treat its drivers as employees. Business analysts at ZenPayroll estimate that the changes will cost $209 million. We customers will pay for that, and we'll have fewer ride-share choices, too.

Lawsuits and politicians' attacks against one company have a chilling effect on others. The "independent contractor" assault will destroy all sorts of companies we'll never even know about because now they won't come into existence. 

Some of the entrepreneurs who dreamed of starting them will look at the additional costs, crunch the numbers and decide there's not enough profit potential to risk investing their money.

Who knows what odd but popular sharing-economy innovations aren't happening even now—ones we'd use and love—because businesspeople with great ideas are frightened by the Clintons, deBlasios and lawyers? 

In France, the old-fashioned cabbies rioted against Uber, blocking Uber cars and dropping rocks on them from a bridge. Instead of arresting rioters, the French government threatened to arrest Uber executives for breaking taxi rules. Once again, without even a new law directed specifically at Uber, the enemies of free choice got their way. Paris police have been ordered to forbid use of the Uber app. 

I disagree with Jeb Bush about many things, but he was right to praise Uber for "disrupting the old order" of business. 

The New York Times responded with a sarcastic piece pointing out that when Bush used an Uber car, the driver, Munir Algazaly, didn't recognize Bush. He said he plans to vote for Clinton, though Bush seemed like a "nice guy." Another site mocked Bush because he talked about "hailing" an Uber, not "hiring" one. Another pointed out that the car Bush rode in had a license plate holder that said "Fresh as F—" on it. Ha, ha.

But it's the sneering media who miss the point. Bush is smart to see serious benefits from "reputation" businesses like Uber. Politicians and lawyers who threaten to destroy such companies threaten us all. 


NEXT: Sandra Bland's Death in Jail: All For Not Putting out a Cigarette When Illegitimately Ordered to by Cop

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  1. Central Committee must control everything and one day will find a way to tax and regulate farts

    1. They already do:


    2. A luddite, a marxist, a politician, a union member, sociopathic imbecile, and a bureaucrat walk into a bar…….

  2. “… raising hard questions …” for statist leeches sucking the life out of an economy.

  3. Young people love Uber. Maybe they will just fall into line behind the establishment Democrats, but it certainly strikes me as unbelievably tone deaf and politically insane for Clinton and others to come out against the sharing economy.

    1. On the bright side, if the establishment Dems like Shillary fuck up the sharing economy bad enough maybe at least some of those young people will start to see the light. I wouldn’t expect them to all turn into hard core libertarians, but maybe they’ll at least learn something about the nature of government economic interventions.

    2. Regardless of the politics of this I find almost everything about this unreal. Those who are attacking Uber as a threat to all the cozy govt-created cartel are showing themselves. Those who are obsessing about Uber as some substitute threat to all the OTHER cozy govt-created cartels are blowing smoke. And those who really think that Uber is some leading-edge innovation that is prima facie evidence that entrepreneurialism is still alive and well in America are – deluded.

      The ‘sharing economy’ is only the future if the future is shrinking. That may well be the future of America – but let’s not kid ourselves. If that is the future, ‘innovation’ isn’t gonna do squat when it comes to dealing with the social conflicts that are gonna arise with a shrinking pie. And unfortunately I think there is an underlying propaganda theme here – divert peoples attention to Uber and maybe people will forget that the freaking pie is shrinking.

      1. Innovation is the *only* thing that’s gonna help deal with social conflicts and a shrinking pie – more of the same ol’ same ol’ certainly isn’t going to help.

      2. And those who really think that Uber is some leading-edge innovation that is prima facie evidence that entrepreneurialism is still alive and well in America are – deluded.

        Was thinking something like that too.

        That the rise of the so-called ‘sharing economy’ symptomizes the diseased state of the mainstream economy. A dismal situation where the only feasible innovations left are those attempting to do end runs around the regulatory morass occlusive to other market possibilities.

        Basically if one wants to predict the future shape of US/Western market behavior, examine black/grey market activities characteristic to command economies (such as the nalevo in the former USSR). And then imagine how we’ll use tech to carry out those ends.

  4. This is also a good example of how unions *could* work. If Uber drivers really do think they are getting a raw deal as individuals and want to band together to increase their bargaining power, they should be able to do so. But Uber should be equally as able to say that they only want to work with non-union independent contractors. Let them negotiate it out on equal footing without the government getting involved to tip the scales one way or another.

    Also, if Uber is really that bad and it’s drivers were really that unhappy, Lyft or some other competitor could always move in and lure all the drivers away.

    But I strongly suspect actual Uber drivers aren’t all that unhappy, and that this is coming down from the taxi cartels and a small number of Uber drivers. And if the taxis and their political cronies are successful, 20 years from now people will, without any awareness, say things like “Uber must have been doing something wrong, otherwise we would never have forced them to treat their drivers as employees. These laws were passed for a reason!!!”

    1. If Uber drivers were unhappy, then they would drive for Lyft or another Taxi company.

      I honestly don’t understand how people can think that all these drivers were forced into working for Uber.

      1. Yeah, if Uber drivers were unhappy they could, you know, not be Uber drivers…

    2. Uber is far from a perfect for the drivers (I am one), but it is a damn shot better than taxis. Taxis make you pay to work, control what you make, are as corrupt as can be, and protected by government. In my town both cab companies have never had a price that is 1 penny different, and even meet to talk about rates, yet there is no talk of price fixing. Lyft isn’t in a lot of markets yet because sadly Uber isn’t fighting for lack of regulations or open markets, they are fighting for Uber.

    3. Yep. Unions, and other types of collective bargaining by workers, are very libertarian. Government subsidies of unions are not. Uber drivers can stand up for themselves.

  5. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

    1. I’ll bet they paid you as an independent contractor. You better contact Clinton and get her on the case!!!

    2. Just one from my collection for folks like you…


  6. If this kind of thing comes up in a debate, all Hillary needs to say is “Uber isn’t treating its workers fairly,” or “Uber is taking advantage of people’s need to find work and giving them substandard conditions” and that will basically settle the issue for millions of people listening.

    #pessimism #cynicism

    1. Sadly you’re probably right. It’s not pessimistic or cynical to recognize reality.

    2. You were always my fave Hulk.

  7. Funny I was a cab driver for years, and a current Uber driver. I am an independent contractor either which way! As a cab driver I had to pay a government monopoly 415 dollars a week for the privilege to work, and if the company chose to backdoor orders that should have been mine, I had no way to legally prove it, and still had to pay up.

    1. Every taxi driver in the US is an independent contractor. Declaring Uber/Lyft drivers as employees certainly will invite taxi drivers to file for employee status.

      This is going to be fun.

      1. So you are saying a bunch of union thugs are short sighted? Say it’s not so!

        What I don’t get in all of this are the part time contractors. Many people who drive for Uber do so for less than 30 hours a week, often quite a bit less. How can these people be classified as employees if they only drive for 15 hours a week?

        1. um, because defining ’employees’ by the number of hours per week they work is completely arbitrary. 40? why not 35? 30? 25? There’s no rational reason for the choice of the number. It’s just convenient and arbitrary and it lets people who like to control other people do it legally.

      2. Wow, I love unintended consequences that actually bite the bad guys in the butt.
        And this one is so simple in one step.
        If Uber drivers must be considered employees, then all the existing taxi drivers will also have to be — with all the extra costs associated to pay for employees, including employees comp, health insurance, minimum wages, and whatever other plethora of obligations that come with hiring employees, then the very same taxi company guild with have shot themselves in the foot.

        The fact is, although they bellow public law protection for the drivers and protection for the public, it is transparent that they want protection of undeserved and extorted profits that they force out of the public and drivers.

        Let’s see how enthusiastic the company owners will be when taxi drivers class-action them into forcing employee status.

  8. If Uber’s opportunity for drivers is a bad deal, then drivers will do something else. The Democrats and others against Uber and similar companies mostly understand this, so I believe they will focus on scare tactics aimed at the public, suggesting that drivers are not properly trained or screened, don’t have adequate insurance, don’t have their vehicles properly maintained (those brakes will fail!), etc.

    1. don’t have their vehicles properly maintained

      Which is laughable given the state of the average cab.

    2. this sort of braindead drivel is mostly what I’ve heard against Uber. But these cars are the personal vehicles of their owners who take good care of them. I’ve seen the derelictus wrecks of the big boy cab companies. Plain and simple, this whole kerfuffle is big government seeing something going on that is not totally under their thumb, and moving to put it there. Clinton is NOT out for the common good, she feeds the elite power mongers.

  9. Democrats hate what labor unions hate, and a taxi drivers’ union hates Uber, too…

    In France, the old-fashioned cabbies rioted against Uber, blocking Uber cars and dropping rocks on them from a bridge.

    Mimsy: Hey I got an idea! Why don’t you guys just make your cars cleaner and nicer, and try to be better to your customers so that you can compete with Handicar’s popularity in the marketplace?

    Nathan: Just ignore my friend. He’s mentally disabled.

    1. Damn it Mimsy!

    2. Loki, if a French group thinks something is terrible, you’ve just got to know it’s a great idea!
      Look at history.

  10. The problem with forcing all Uber drivers to be employees instead of contractors will dramatically reduce the number of drivers who only drive to fill in the gaps when they feel like it. As with minimum wage, not every job is filled by a full time person supporting a family of 4.

    For example, I recently took an Uber from Charlotte’s airport. The driver was actually a former military guy that worked at the airport and just got off of his shift and decided to take a fare on his way home for the day. So, because he felt like it, he was able to make $20 on his commute home basically.

    Requiring all drivers to be employees mean taking money out of this guy’s pocket for no reason other than FYTW.

    1. no reason other than FYTW

      Which is the only reason the government needs anymore. Used to they’d at least have to try to claim “commerce clause”. Now they don’t even have to bother with that. It’s a brave shitty new world.

    2. “The problem with forcing all Uber drivers to be employees instead of contractors will dramatically reduce the number of drivers…”

      A feature, not a bug.

      1. Or in a few more words, Unions, Governments, Bureaucracies and Liberals HATE Competition.

    3. Requiring as many people as possible to be considered employees is how the government keeps money flowing in, all year long.
      That’s why your taxes, even if you get a bunch back, are withheld from your check, every week(?).
      If everyone could be considered an independent contractor, Uncle Sam would only get a shit-pot full of cash in April and nothing for the rest of the year.
      They don’t want that.

      Not a lot of REASONing going on, here.

      1. Requiring as many people as possible to be considered employees is how the government keeps money flowing in, all year long.

        No such thing as taxes on capital gains, I guess.

        That’s why your taxes, even if you get a bunch back, are withheld from your check, every week(?).

        If people are getting a bunch back anyway, how does being an independent contractor change the tax dynamic as you claim?

        If everyone could be considered an independent contractor, Uncle Sam would only get a shit-pot full of cash in April and nothing for the rest of the year.

        So the hell what? Does Uncle Sam have to spend it all when it receives it in April? It can’t earmark what it steals receives in April to various spending programs throughout the year?

        They don’t want that.

        Why should I care what self-interested government officials want?

        Not a lot of REASONing going on, here.


  11. Politicians and pundits making fun of Uber are like guys sitting in their horsecarts back at the turn of the last century, laughing at those crazy people with their noisy, crazy “horseless carriages.”

  12. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

    1. ^ Independent contractor.

  13. The thing I find interesting is that the government has been controlling business for years, most people have not been aware just how much becuase most people don’t start businesses.

    Uber and companies like this are highlighting this quagmire of regulation…

    Wheather people pay attention is the question…

    1. Exactly. Government regulations impact all businesses. Uber, local food trucks, and immigrants aren’t special – we should all be free from the yoke.

  14. Clinton is getting shit from all sides for doing this though. I’m surprised.

  15. Uber doesn’t allow its drivers or passengers to carry firearms even if local law allows it. Until that policy changes, Uber can go fuck itself.

    1. well, we know of at least two who do/did. Saved a few lives. Maybe theyre no longer driving for Uber, I don’t know, but they’re still alve… and so are some other innocents. If I wanted to drive for Uber, I’d just carry. It would never be an issue until something happened.. at which point I’d be happy to be alive and not driving for Uber, than dead and not criving for Uber.

  16. Uber is ramrodded by Goldman Sachs. Fueled by the Federal Reserve.

    It seems strange to me that Reason would be a cheerleader for these guys.

    If Uber was a good way to build a business name one driver who has two cars.

    Uber was meant to prey on the unknowledgable. Divers and Journalist who won’t dig for information.

    1. You’ve convinced me with your command of the English language.

    2. Plenty of Uber drivers run more than one car. You should probably keep digging for that information.

  17. Here’s an analogy:
    You go to Costco and buy a bunch of hot dogs and buns, prepare them and take them to the ballpark and sell them.
    The ones the vendors at the park sell are WAY more expensive, because they have to pay fees to be able to sell, there.
    So, it’s OK for you to come in and undercut them?
    What Uber does is selling hot dogs without having to pay the venue for the various benefits that accrue with being able to sell to that audience.
    If you want to turn the service of providing taxis, in a large city, over to a free-for-all system, then do so, but it is unfair to make one set of providers have to live by one set of rules and others to have none.
    Not so sure Uber conforms to the NAP.

    1. And you are everything that is wrong with this country.

      The taxi companies WANT to have to pay the fucking fees. For the express purpose of keeping others out of the game. Fuck them.

    2. Why should they have to pay fees to begin with?

    3. Ummm….the so-called “rules” are rubbish set up through collusion between the politicians and the unions to keep competition out. Screw those “rules”.

    4. but your ballpark is private property. The roads are bought by MY tax dollars. Not equal, argument fails.

      Further, the public have allowed their overlords to demands high fees for the privildge of operating a cab Theypay their fair share for road wear and tear by way of feul taxes. Drive a lot, wear out the roads a lot, buy a lot of fuel, pay a liut of fuel tas. tThe “medallion” fees, are government greed. End it. for ALL taxis, the only way to bury Uber…. any city that wants to can end the taxi medalllion system tomorrow. Why won’t they? It’s a good-old-boy protection system, a high barrier to entry. Uber simply said “NO”. If the public would ever lift their eyeballs from their device screens and THINK for a moment… they’d realise the lion’s share of their taxi fares are going to lazy entities that provide no benefit. Medallion fees get eaten up by the lazy politicians and mobsters who run the city’s taxi commission and inspection “service”. a significant portion of the fare goes to the owner who has fronted the cash for the medallion, and controls his drivers like a flock of slaves. Another good part of the fare goes to union dues for the drivers…. which untion does naught to benefit anyone but themselves. And, since the owner provides the cab, sets the schedule, assigns work (designates whch fares go to which cabs/drivers) there is no question those drivers are “employees” under the federal guidelines thus taxes, benefits, etc, come out of that fare as well.

      1. As to your silly non-point abuot the Non Aggression Policy, are you nuts? Against WHOM are Uber aggressing? And by what means? Against the unions? Maybe…. but the reality is that the unions are agggressing against customers and service providers, and Uber are merely doing an end-run round that aggression of the unions. government, etc. Perhaps your venom ought be directed against the stranglehold big government and the unions have over the traditional taxi system?

  18. BS. H. Clinton-de Blasio… bs. J. Bush… more bs. One side gives us overt Maria-style threats of, “play ball and pay up or else,” while the other side looks like hero of the go-getter, self-styled start-up boy wonders.

    Bush only knows of Uber through the efforts of his “team,” – likely a young staffer who uses Uber or Lyft and might even have a friend or two who drives for them.

    And it’s a keen way to try to tap into thinking young people who know the damage all Bushs have caused this country and think this Bush is just the same – which, if you know anything about his intelligence-agency, bones-making acts, he would be, as his father said of his own heinous acts, “chased down the street and hung.”

    Let’s remember Clinton the wife is even more heinous than her wanted to be a playboy hubbie – she is the one in the family who wields the iron fist and possesses the killer instinct – literally. And let’s not try to make “Jeb” out to be anything more than this generation of politicos version of the old-boy network – 21st century style.

  19. The Democratic party is nothing more than organized crime. They pass all manner of labor laws to make it prohibitively expensive to hire people. Business owners adapt because they are smart people that want to stay in business and hire contractors. Then the Demoncats demonize the evil business owner for “skirting the spirit of the law” and force them to hire employees.

    “Nice company you have there, it’d be a shame if something were to happen to it”.

  20. Uber the company and each individual contractor/driver are “private means of production”, turning assets (cars, mobil phones, fuel, time, etc) into profit. Clinton opposes this company and wants to regulate it out of existence. The definition of FASCISM is government control of private means of production. Thus Hitlery Clinton is a fascist. But that’s old news anyway. Nice to see usch a tight proof, though.

    1. Fascism is a corporatist govt. where legislators work on behalf of and legislate at the behest of corporations, which both “sides,” presently, do. You’re talking about the modern application of communism. Let’s not pretend that there’s not plenty of corporatism being practiced by all factions of both parties.

  21. Why are the progs recruiting trolls that just finished ESL class?

    1. Because part of the recruitment process is ‘teaching them the right way to vote’…

  22. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  23. Cab Company: “Lets see….how can we stifle the competition?”

    DeBlasio: “I have an idea….”

  24. God, I fucking hate statists, control freaks all of them both left and right. We need to start breaking the law and build a huge black market like they did in Soviet era Russia. It was thought that the black market in the Soviet era was the real economy and actually kept the Russians afloat longer than they’d normally done if they’d stuck with straight up central planning. Build a huge black market and when it comes big enough, crush the crony one we have, a guy can dream can’t he?

  25. “But no driver is forced to work for Uber.”

    So true! Same with everyone else with a crappy job. Why do people think they’re owed a living, just because they work? Just because Job Providers can organize corporations, that does not mean workers can organize unions.
    Businesses do not need employees. Workers do not contribute anything to the economy. Jobs are provided as a public service, and it’s about time workers realized this. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, stop sucking businesses dry, and be a man – be an independent contractor! Or a Fox pundit. I hear they get great benefits.

  26. Uber is a surveillance system: it requires passengers to identify themselves, and records where they go. It also requires use of nonfree software (software that runs on the passenger’s computer but that the passenger does not control). For my freedom and privacy’s sake, I absolutely refuse to use Uber.

    At present, I have the option of hailing an ordinary taxi and paying cash. But how long will this option exist, with Uber going all-out to eliminate it? Let’s use the power of democracy to require companies such as Uber to respect their customers’ freedom and privacy.

    See stallman.org/uber for more about this issue, and http://gnu.org/philosophy/free…..rtant.html
    for more about the injustice of nonfree software.

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