The drama of the Greek referendum, default and apparent capitulation has overshadowed the real story: what caused Greece’s problems. Early retirement, generous pensions, high labor costs, over-regulation, bureaucracy and corruption all contributed. Even The New York Times noticed, blaming the problems on “Too much bureaucracy and too many market protections that keep the Greek economy from operating efficiently.”
As the story unfolds, it is sounding more and more like Bill de Blasio’s plan for New York.
The mayor’s latest brainstorm is his attempt to cut the number of Uber (UBER), Via, Lyft and other ride share drivers. His Taxi and Limousine commission has not only threatened to limit the number of new licenses, but to rescind many of those already issued. This latest move comes on the heels of the TLC ginning up an environmental impact study of the added ride share cars, an analysis of their impact on traffic speed, and, best of all, a move to assess and regulate any software updates the technology company wants to implement.
The mayor should no more regulate the number of Uber drivers than he should dictate how many sculptors or doctors should be allowed to try their luck in New York.
Where are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert when you need them? While Uber is delivering version 3.0, the city undoubtedly will be mired in trying to install version 1.2.
The mayor’s proposals could actually be quite funny—if they didn’t affect people’s livelihoods. Drivers are flocking to Uber—purchasing cars, keeping them clean, setting their own work hours, choosing to be their own bosses—because they are making a rational choice that the rewards will outpace the costs and the risk. Many of these drivers are fleeing the yellow taxi fleets and black-car services. And it is working for them; just ask them.
The ride share apps are a real threat to the traditional taxi industry because consumers are voting with their wallets (and smartphones.) They are saying, “We know what our choices are, and we like this service at this price.” We are seeing the free market work, and work well.
The mayor, however, thinks otherwise. And he should, given that some of his largest campaign donors were the yellow fleet owners. They have seen the value of their medallions plummet as competitors have cracked this long-protected oligopoly.
The mayor should no more regulate the number of Uber drivers than he should dictate how many sculptors or doctors should be allowed to try their luck in New York. The marketplace should dictate how many people an industry should support—not some central planner reminiscent of the Politburo.