Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Uber and Lyft gave Austin an ultimatum -- vote away your foolish ridesharing safety laws, or else! -- and Austin told them to go fuck themselves. Andrea Grimes at the Texas Observer expects the corporations, which left Austin in a huff after the vote, to muscle the Texas legislature to override the city's laws -- which is a good bet to succeed, alas, because, as we saw when the lege and governor overrode Denton's anti-fracking law, in today's Tejas democracy ain't shit when there's some corporate ass to kiss.

Still, Austin's resistance gladdens my heart; it's like D├╝rrenmatt gave The Visit a happy ending. But conservatives feel very differently about it -- including those conservatives who like to call themselves libertarians. Actually Reason's Brian Doherty, to his credit, bravely maintains sangfroid ("as of Monday Austin will be a lot harder a city to get around in without owning your own car, which is a shame for everyone"), leaving only his mangled lede to show his true tortured feelings:
Activist obsession with "level playing fields" in non-commensurate businesses (taxis lack the user rating and identification systems that Lyft and Uber have) primed the citizens of Austin to vote for regulations that they knew (or had every opportunity to know) would drive the very helpful smartphone ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft out of their city.
When you have to work that hard to make it look good, it ain't good, Brian. Others had a harder time keeping their tempers. "Austin's Regulatory Regime Drives Uber And Lyft Out Of Town," sputters John Kartch at Forbes. His lede is nice and clean, since unlike Doherty he doesn't seem to have any shame getting in his way:
With the failure of Proposition 1, Austin’s innovation-friendly reputation has taken a hit. The city’s decision to saddle ridesharing apps with an extensive list of petty, burdensome, and unnecessary regulations is driving Uber and Lyft out of town, effective Monday.
And they tell me Facebook is prejumadiced! Kartch has an interesting take on public referenda, too:
Rather than adopt the less burdensome substitute ordinance, the city council forced the Saturday May 7 special election vote on Prop. 1. The local taxpayer cost of holding the special election was expected to be $500,000 but the city council pressed ahead anyway.
The voice of the people -- what a waste!
Prop. 1 failed by a vote of 48,673 to 38,539. The confusing ballot language written by the city council was of no help to pro-ridesharing residents.
Yeah whatever buddy. "Uber forced to leave Democrat-controlled Austin, thanks to new regulations," snarls Anthony Hennen at Red Alert Politics. "Say what you want about whether or not it is practical or necessary to require these companies to fingerprint their drivers but this still provides another example of government not working well with ingenuity of the private sector," says whatever Chinese slave writes under the alias Andrew Mark Miller for Young Conservatives.

The wettest hen is John Daniel Davidson, an apparent James Poulos impersonator at the The Federalist. Under the headline "How Austin Drove Out Uber And Lyft" -- characterizing the corporations' voluntary exit as a shotgun march to the city limits is a popular shtick with this bunch -- Davidson writes:
The story of how Uber and Lyft were driven out of Austin is a textbook example of how government-backed cartels force out competition under the guise of creating a “level playing field” or ensuring “consumer safety.”
That's how statists are, with their "truth in labeling" and "Pure Food and Drug Act" and other such scare-quoted chimera.
In this case, the cartel is the local taxi cab lobby, which successfully saddled Uber and Lyft with cab-like regulations that shouldn’t apply to ridesharing companies.
"Cab" and "taxi" are such unfriendly, old-sounding words, whereas "ridesharing," "Uber," and "Lyft" all sound fun and now and hip and shouldn't be saddled with your stupid rules, Mom!

It's nice, those rare occasions when the good guys win, ain't it?

UPDATE. The snittiest comment on this so far is from Kevin D. Williamson of National Review, who calls Austin "second-rate" for not letting Uber and Lyft write their laws. "The one thing New York cannot bear, municipally, is being second-rate... Austin, on the other hand, is cool with being second-rate," he writes. "...Given a choice between annoying its long-established transit cartels and confirming itself as second-rate, Austin voted for second-rate." Makes me think of Daniel Plainview at the end of There Will Be Blood: "Bastard from a basket. Bastard from a basket! You're a bastard from a basket..." Williamson also asks, "how about we let people decide for themselves, like adults?" as if there hadn't just been an actual election -- then immediately adds, "People in Austin apparently cannot trust themselves to make those kinds of decisions. They’re second-rate, and they know it." Try to imagine any constituency that would be moved by this, besides playground bullies.

Meanwhile here's Tom Giovanelli, head of the free-market think tank Institute for Policy Innovation, with the libertarian angle (it's entitled "Only Government Could Oppose Ride-Sharing" -- apparently referenda and regulatory overreach are the same thing to the Sons of Rand):
Unfortunately, some cities insist on maintaining their corrupt cartels with taxi companies, even at the cost of depriving their residents of valuable and convenient services like Uber and Lyft. Austin, Texas, recently made this mistake. Because the states have an interest in protecting the freedom of their residents and the economic vitality of their state economies, states should consider legislation that preempts municipalities from restricting ride-sharing services. As we have argued before, local control is not a trump card that allows municipalities to restrict economic freedom.
Feel the freedom, peasants!

No comments:

Post a Comment