Currently viewing the tag: "Uber"
Not me, but a brave Uber "driver" in a "driverless" car.

Not me, but a brave Uber “driver” in a “driverless” car.

Gizmodo’s weekend editor Rhett Jones made this childish attempt to impugn Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto for having the brains to welcome Uber to Pittsburgh, for 80 years the worst taxicab town in America.

Late breaking semi-correction: My tech savvier daughter Lucy claims Gizmodo had my comment hidden somewhere, which still makes my point.

Here, as part of my unpaid media crusade to defend Uber against its moronic “progressive” enemies, is my comment, which Gizmodo’s child editors did not see fit to approve:

Pittsburghers were abused for 80 years by a regulated taxicab monopoly that offered terrible “service,” charged some of the highest fares in the country, wouldn’t go into poor or black neighborhoods, refused short trips, put decrepit and smelly cabs on the street (used cop cars and ex-NYC cabs with 200k miles on them). The cab monopoly’s politically connected owners got rich.

This horrible cab system was set up by bad state laws that were written to prevent new cabs from starting. (Black people here invented Uber 80 years ago because they had to — older men with big cars that served their community tenderly; they still do and Uber is no threat to them. Jitneys were completely illegal; everyone knew it but cops and regulators left them alone because they served poor people in ways the taxi monopoly did not and could not because there were so few cabs.)

Pittsburgh in the mid 1990s had the fewest number of cabs per capita than any major city. The Yellow Cab monopoly that existed for 80 years would still exist today if Uber hadn’t come along and, as commentators below point out, saved the people of Pittsburgh and given them reliable, plentiful and friendly micro-transit. Uber especially benefited the young, especially the poor, especially the black and most especially young women who never have to be stranded on the South Side at 2 a.m. because their cab wouldn’t come.

Mayor Peduto knew these truths and he not only “discovered” Uber he realized how it would change Pittsburgh for the better, which it has. I’m an ex journalist and Uber driver with 3500 Uber rides under my seatbelt. At least 5000 people have gotten rides from me since January of 2015. Not one complained. I heard at least 500 Yellow Cab horror stories.

Pittsburgh and other cities are no longer captive to government-sanctioned and government-protected and government-coddled cab monopolies. The morons who complain about Uber, or complain when enlightened mayors like Peduto welcome Uber to their town or tell state regulators to back off (a rare thing, because most mayors are in bed with the local cab monopolies), need to grow up, read some history and learn about the cozy relations between regulators and what they regulate.

They need to learn what horrors Uber replaced and why those horrors existed for 80 years before a politician did something about getting rid of them. To complain when a mayor — a liberal Democrat — tells state regulators (who are monopoly taxicab company lovers/protectors) to let Uber operate in the Pittsburgh market is childish and stupid.

Peduto did the right thing for his city and his city’s people. Peduto should get praise for what he did. The fact that Uber is setting up shop here and is expected to bring 500 or 1000 jobs here is icing on the cake. For Gizmodo to spend three electrons whining about Peduto’s relation with Kalanick is pitiful.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld need help.

The two most qualified Libertarian Party candidates to come along in my lifetime are getting lots of mainstream media attention, but they are doing a horrible job of selling and explaining the great ideas and principles they represent.

Have they never watched John Stossel or read Frederic Bastiat or Milton Friedman?

Have they never checked to see what the late Harry Browne said in his speeches or interviews? He wasn’t as qualified as either of these ex-blue-state governors, but he knew how to sell freedom. So did Ron Paul in a far less smooth, but more endearing way.

But Jeeze.

With Trump and Hillary competing hourly to see who is the most evil, this is a golden chance for the LP to capture a double-digit percentage of voters and become part of what passes for the national political conversation. But so far they are blowing it.

These nice guys not just dull, they were apparently each born without a marketing gene. Did they ever run for office or were they both appointed?

They need to come up with a couple of campaign slogans or little “parables” — the kind of stuff libertarians use at bars to try to persuade our clueless liberal friends that we aren’t neo-Nazis.

Johnson has blurted out the line that the Libertarian Twins want government to “stay out of our bedrooms” and “out of our wallets.” That’s a good start — the old “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” one-two.

But he and Weld need to elaborate and expound and offer examples of what that phrase means in terms of privacy rights and tax bites.

How about something like “We libertarians are against all government wars at home and abroad — wars on drugs, wars on poverty, wars on illiteracy, wars on Iraq and all other countries that haven’t done anything to harm us.”

Or how about the campaign slogan Rand Paul should have used but J&W and the LP are actually more suited for — “Peace, Pot and Uber”?

It appeals to the young and the heartbroken ex-Sanders supporters by being against foreign intervention, and for decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs.

It appeals to libertarians for the same reason, plus Uber is a symbol of entrepreneurial innovation, deregulation, free markets, and market-based solutions to bad government-rigged stuff like the monopoly taxicab “service” that has robbed and ill-served our urban populations for eighty years.

Ignorance of Uber by J&W is especially galling to me.

Millions of city people use Uber in the USA every week. It’s the greatest thing to happen to cities since sewers and sidewalks. But every candidate so far has missed the Uber vote — which is under 30, 60 percent female, urban/suburban, and diverse as hell.

As an Uber driver in Pittsburgh with 3,000-plus trips and 5,000 to 6,000 riders in my career, I can attest that 99.7 percent of Uber users love it — despite the nonstop attack against it by a mainstream media that has no clue about what Uber has done to improve life in cities and why it’s a win-win-win deal for drivers, previously stranded females, and a more sober society.

So what if under-30s don’t vote that much. Appeal to them the right way — with Uber and decriminalized drugs — and they might cast their first vote for a libertarian.

I never get tired of running my favorite photo — a dead Pittsburgh Yellow Cab being hauled away on a flat bed, taken while I was Ubering.

It’s now my lot in life, as a good libertarian who as a working journalist tried his best to bring an end to the Yellow Cab racket in Pittsburgh, to stick up for Uber whenever I get the chance.

It’d be nice if Uber’s bad boy CEO Travis Kalanick would hire me so I could get paid for my pleasure, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

The Insider blog of Crain’s business magazine in New York City ran this article Oct. 6:

Uber doubles number of drivers—just as de Blasio feared

More than 20,000 UberX drivers are roaming the streets of New York City, twice the number from September 2014. The mayor is scrutinizing their impact.

In reaction to the usual idiot cab hacks who wrote in to call Uber names, predict its demise and accuse it of various war crimes against the working man, I wrote this:

Uber has succeeded and will grow exponentially because of one simple reason – consumers love it. Uber has ended 80 years of consumer abuse by monopoly cabs and their political patrons in cities. That racket has been blown up forever and society is better off in numerous ways. From now on no politician who ever hopes to get re elected can come out against uber for long. The people who’ve suffered from taxi cab abuse for so long — while the local media didn’t notice or care and public officials said nothing – are voting by the millions with their uber apps every day. I’m an uber driver in Pittsburgh with 1700 trips and 3000 total riders siince January. As far as I can tell — and I “interview” my passengers like the ex-journalist I am — only a handful of those 1700 riders will ever consider using yellow cab again. Uber is micro transit at its best and it’s changing the way young people are moving around the city. Smart democrat mayors like Pittsburgh’s Bill Peduto know it’s great for their city and their poor and rich constituents and it is.

By the way, the Boston Globe reported that Uber drivers carried two million passengers just last month. That’s about 100 riders per each of 20,000 drivers. Their average wait time was under five minutes and as far as I know, not a single rider was robbed, murdered or raped.

 

Steve Hill says he’s not trying to defend Big Taxi but then does a great job of doing exactly that. Big Taxi is not a victim and Uber is not a villain. Big Taxi deserves to die and it’s in its death throes. It got big about 80 years ago when, thanks to foolish New Deal thinking that thought competition was bad, nearly every state and city granted monopoly status to favored or politically connected cab companies. Most cities got one cab company that was able to charge high fares, screw cabbies with high leases ($800 a week now in Pittsburgh), screw customers with horrible often racist “service” and take advantage of the bad regulations that OUTLAWED all competition. (Meanwhile, states and cities pretended to regulate cab companies but really didn’t.) Those who think Uber — and I drive for Uber in Pittsburgh part-time — should be regulated like taxis have it backwards. Taxis should be deregulated like Uber. Uber is finally doing what no politician has ever done and no national or local news media have ever called for — opened up local transportation markets to legal competition and liberated people from the chains of Big Taxi and Big Public Transit. Make fun of Kalanick for his hyperbole if you want, but he and his pals deserve medals for disrupting and destroying Big Taxi and aggressively challenging all the bad laws that have made Big Taxi and its owners big and wealthy. I’m happy to report that based on the smiling faces of hundreds of my under-30 Uber riders, our children will never voluntarily use Yellow Cabs again.

The ladies of Bourbon and Bitches — Meg Gilliland, Tiffany Madison, and Lucy Steigerwald — joined forces with Politics for People Who Hate Politics staple Joe Steigerwald, to make one mighty crossover podcast episode. The theme? Reasons for optimism about liberty. The conversation? Very tech-heavy, and also full of regret on Lucy’s side for being a sectarian douchebag libertarian for a minute there (sorry about that, Matt). We cheered about Uber, AirBnB, and 3D printed octopuses metaphorically attacking the police. We tried gamely to find any optimism about war, then changed the subject. Platonic Ideal of Libertarian Optimism Jeffrey Tucker popped in briefly — possibly because we summoned him like a deity. We wrapped things up with many, many tangents, until Joe no longer had time to visit the gym.

Host: Lucy Steigerwald: writer for Antiwar, VICE, Rare, and The Stag Blog; wry human of Bourbon and Bitches@LucyStag

Panel: Joe Steigerwald: technical wizard for various websites, mighty bass player for Act of Pardon, older, rarely wiser brother;@steigerwaldino
Meg Gilliland: Voice and Exit, cofounder Creative Destructors deadpan sass goddess of Bourbon and Bitches; @MegGilliland
Tiffany Madison: VP of Coin Congress, cofounder Creative Destructors, writer for all sort of places, rant queen of Bourbon and Bitches; @TiffanyMadison

Jeff Tucker (in brief): Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me, distinguished fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education;@JeffreyATucker

Check out my podcast with Reason TV’s Jim Epstein! I asked him about the sharing economy, education policy, cities, and why he’s a filthy, filthy minarchist. (Not so much that last one.)

Also go look at Epstein’s awesome Reason works, particularly his sharing economy article and videos.

Also! Here is kind of fuzzy video of the interview.

It’s in two parts because my Chromebook crashed!

(And then I bought a new laptop.)