Uber Regulation

Author: JusticeWept ,

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  • JusticeWept
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    Article summary:
    New York City passed laws to "cap the number of for-hire vehicles for a year while the city studies the booming industry. The bills also allow New York to set a minimum pay rate for drivers." According to the NYTimes, NYC is Uber's largest market.

    NYC is also a hotbed of discontent for Uber workers. Conditions of employment are evidently so bad that, "[t]he battle over Uber’s future in New York has been prompted in part by growing concerns over financial turmoil among drivers — a problem underscored by six driver suicides in recent months." Taxi drivers, displaced by Uber drivers, also celebrated the cap.

    Uber has had several other issues, as well--the NYTimes cites worker complaints about "gender discrimination and harassment", additionally, you may recall the self-driving Uber vehicle that killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

    Uber and Lyft, of course, are upset with the move. They argue that it will force them to charge higher prices, and according to an Uber spokesperson, "'[t]he City’s 12-month pause on new vehicle licenses will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion.'" One Republican who voted against the measures said "that limiting Uber to help yellow taxis was similar to regulating Netflix, the streaming service, to help Blockbuster, the video rental chain."




    This hits upon one of the great issues of our time--the explosion of technological growth and our inability to reckon with its consequences. Ride-sharing companies are an incredible innovation in that they make personal transportation far easier. But in our zeal to embrace innovation, lots of people end up losing out. The same story plays out in many ways. Facebook and the ease of spreading fake news and accessing user data, among other sins; Google and privacy concerns; problems keep arising. Yet, the innovations themselves are valuable.
    To what extent should Uber be regulated? Are the concerns about its disregard for workers valid, or is this just a play by a taxi industry on its last legs to survive a little longer?
    Discuss.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @JusticeWept
    >But in our zeal to embrace innovation, lots of people end up losing out.

    Exactly who is losing out here? Some commissioner's cousin that desperately needs a government job regulating UBER drivers because he can't make it in the private sector?

    Something to consider here, which I am sure the well educated city planners know, is that UBER has significantly reduced the amount of cars in the city. If an UBER driver carries 10 people a day in 10 trips, thats 10 other cars that are not on the road. It's not an insignificant number. The government has no clue what the optimal amount of UBER drivers should be. They don't know what kind of driver the public wants, or anything else the public wants for that matter. The only people that will ultimately lose out are the people who rely on UBER to get around once the government steps in and screws it all up.
  • JusticeWept
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Exactly who is losing out here?
    The workers, seems to me. Also, Uber has had some pretty significant oversights like https://money.cnn.com/2017/11/03/technology/uber-lyft-background-checks-new-york-terror-attack-suspect/index.html?iid=EL before. If you don't want to read it, most important quote is: "For example, Massachusetts runs government background checks on drivers who are already approved to work for Uber and Lyft. Thousands of drivers failed these government screenings for inappropriate criminal charges and driving histories." Those background checks are stricter now, but they still don't fingerprint their drivers where they aren't legally required to, for instance.

    While I agree that ride-sharing probably reduces congestion overall, I don't necessarily agree that ride-sharing reduces congestion in NYC specifically--the people taking cars there are people who likely would have taken the subway otherwise. Still, I am suspicious about how much taxi drivers might have influenced the decision; the article also notes that another reason workers supported the cap is that it means the increasing demand for ride-sharing will translate to increased demand for them personally. I like the ability to set a pay-floor, but I am uncertain about the cap.

335 days later