by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Create a better mouse trap. We’ve all heard it. Companies like Uber and Lyft have done just that to the age old taxi-cab industry. These upstarts used the abundance of cars in America and combined it with new technology – app based – and voila an entire new way to get around is born. This new way is embraced by the public, at least the millennials, and everyone wins, except the people clinging to the old ways. The taxi industry hasn’t enjoyed having competition so rather than change with the times an illicit partnership with government has been created to crush their newfound competitors.
Government knows best. Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s have launched an attack on what is being called the “sharing economy” exemplified by companies like Uber and Lyft. This is a classic example of the abuse of power in government. Politicians rooted in the old power structure found in the incestuous relationship between government and big industry are desperate to stop this change. Big industry and political power go hand in hand.
The old power structure means political support. It means campaign contributions. It means power for those in the established order. With new companies filling grass roots needs, like Uber and Lyft, there are no company bosses to ask for political contributions. There are no union bosses to demand endorsements from. And without the need for a “medallion” or other government regulatory stamp of approval, corporations no longer need to beg bureaucrats for permission to do business. Uber and Lyft represent a decentralization of power.
This kind of seismic shift hits politicians where it hurts, the pocket book. It’s no accident that the mayor of New York tried to limit Uber, despite its vast popularity with the cities residents. As the New York Post noted, blocking Uber means helping the city’s yellow cab monopoly, which “donated more than $550,000 to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign.”
The transportation industry is not the only industry where politicians believe they know better than the public. 12 million Americans, for example, use small dollar short-term lending to help solve their financial problems in times of need. These short-term loans are also known as, “Payday Loans”. Many of the people who use a payday loan could never qualify for a loan from a bank. Most banks are not in the business of lending people $250, $500 or even $1000 to just make ends meet. The risks are too high and the potential for default is too great. The payday loan industry discovered a need amongst society and is fulfilling very nicely thank you.
Americans actually need this service, no matter if the big banking industry or politicians want them to have it or not.