Uber is a phenomenon that has sprung up recently in our country, hailed as an alternative to expensive taxis in various metropolises across America. Uber is basically a ridesharing app for cell phones that allow people to connect with other Uber “drivers” to get from one point to another. The price of a ride varies depending on which city you’re in, but Uber was created to be cheaper than a taxi, and they generally are true to that.
Uber has become popular in the political arena recently because many town councils and state legislatures are being lobbied to tax the Uber drivers as if they are operating a taxi, because “that would only be fair to the actual taxi drivers”. In many places, regulations regarding Uber have already been put in place, such as San Antonio, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Many towns put these regulations in place in an effort to protect their citizens from outrageous prices, because Uber does occasionally have unacceptably high prices, mainly due to the fact that their prices are based on supply and demand. So, if there were an area where a ride is in high demand (such as Chapel Hill when it snows), Uber drivers would reap much more reward because people would be willing to pay more. However, in Uber’s defense, they normally set price ceilings in areas where this becomes an issue.
My point is this… yes, companies shouldn’t treat consumers unfairly, and there should be rules to protect the consumer, but our government cannot craft policies based on the notion that everything must be regulated right out of the gate, because that stifles competition in our capitalist marketplace. If Uber CEO Travis Kalanick knew that his company would be slapped with the same regulations as taxis, why would he have gone into business in the first place? The whole point of Uber was to offer a nice alternative to taxis, and our government wants to make sure that Uber becomes another Taxi service. The mindset that government red tape and added regulation will help our society is a completely ill advised one, and I would urge all state and local legislators to thoroughly examine this issue before any votes are cast.