Uber

'Politicians Don't Care, Except to the Extent That We Make Them Care'

Challenging the municipal corporate state

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Glenn Reynolds offers a quick sketch of the political economy of the Uber wars—and of any conflict between an upstart operation and an entrenched industry:

Warning: politics on the premises

Just imagine that you're a big-city mayor. If taxi medallions—granting the right to run a taxi to a limited number of people—sell for six figures, the people who own them are heavily invested. They'll offer lots in the way of money, political support and votes to a politician who will protect their investment from competition. Thus, even though services like Uber (which requires no medallions) are cheaper and offer service in poor neighborhoods where taxis won't go, for a politician, it's a no-brainer: Support your supporters. The result is a host of regulations and taxes designed to protect old businesses from new competition.

Sometimes the new competition wins anyway. Uber has been good at generating a large base of mobile customers, then using them to pressure politicians: When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio went after Uber, Uber used its app to let its users pressure de Blasio….

Even so—and here's the key point—politicians don't care, except to the extent that we make them care. Whatever they say when they're running for office, their top priority once elected is to build a coalition that will keep them in power, and accumulating money and influence, regardless of whether the interests of that coalition coincide with the public's.

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11 responses to “'Politicians Don't Care, Except to the Extent That We Make Them Care'

  1. Well – duh.

    Medallions = donations. Uber = nothing.

    No. Brainer.

  2. Whatever they say when they’re running for office, their top priority once elected is to build a coalition that will keep them in power, and accumulating money and influence, regardless of whether the interests of that coalition coincide with the public’s.

    This can’t possibly be revelation…for anyone. Can it? I mean, if you take about five milliseconds to look at incentives, you know this. This is obvious shit.

    1. I give it three out of ten GASP!s.

      1. “This man is over-gasped!”

    2. Hopefully, Reynolds is speaking to people who never gave it much thought.

      You know, voters.

    3. I thonk it is revelation to the people who think that getting money out Of politics is a solution to politics. They don’ t seem to realize that the perverse incentives politicians respond are baked right into the system. They can only be contained by limiting government power, not by a platonically ideal regulatory scheme.

  3. “‘Politicians Don’t Care, Except to the Extent That We Make Them Care’

    once, when trying to deconstruct some new abomination of legislation being proposed, a boss of mine said to me =

    “Stop looking at Politicians as though they are individuals with their own ideas and opinions and goals – they are not independent agents; they’re just the Paid Spokesmen for their constituencies. They will say and do anything if their constituents demand it. And they don’t care if what they say one day is completely contradicted the following day. They don’t even pay attention. Ignore what they say and pay attention to who is pushing them to say it.”

    Basically, he was telling me that most people pretend as though Ronald McDonald makes the hamburgers. Which is stupid. They wouldn’t be politicians if they had their own ideas.

    1. Ronald McDonald makes the hamburgers. Which is stupid.

      ****Wha…?***** [runs from room crying]

  4. ‘Politicians Don’t Care, Except to the Extent That We Make Them Care’

    Monopoly providers of goods and services overwhelmingly tend to do this.

  5. politicians don’t care, except to the extent that we make them care.

    They often say, and seem to genuinely mean it, that to get them to prioritize something their constituents should like call their offices and such until their attention is gotten. The powerful interests are certainly picking up the phone. Of course, if politicians didn’t rely so completely on fundraising, motivated constituent interest could have a fighting chance to affect political will. But we turned money into speech and did away with all that normal democratic process stuff.

    Constituent pressure does occasionally beat corporate influence, and I’m often surprised when it does. People do still have to get elected by winning a majority of votes. I’m sure libertarians will be cheering on the movement to do away with that vital aspect of a free society just as they did the last one.

    1. “we turned money into speech”

      You are adorable Tony. Seriously though, much cash did you shovel to the computer companies and ISPs this year so you could force your facist propaganda down our throat via internet comments? Why is it only wealthy oligarchs like Tony can afford the high tech gear needed to engage in tgis kind of public political discourse? Dont you realize that someone, somewhere isnt on the internet and CANT be a part of this conversation? Why are you silencing the poor, Tony?

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