New York Mayor Bill de Blasio presents himself as a champion of the technology industry. The industry says he’s trying to smother progress one app at a time.
The mayor’s plan to require Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and other ride-hailing services to get city approval for upgrades to the user interface on smartphone apps — and to pony up $1,000 each time they do — has rankled a broad swath of companies, with 27 signing a letter protesting his plan. It’s also raised questions about whether the mayor is siding with taxi and limousine owners who helped finance his 2013 campaign.
Put more clearly: If Bill de Blasio gets his way, a series of apps that are produced and used voluntarily will have to receive the permission of the state before they can be voluntarily updated within a voluntary marketplace and delivered to those who volunteer to install them.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The Bill de Blasios of the world are now The Man; the Ubers and Lyfts of the world are the rebels. We now have a clear choice as to how our future will look: Will it resemble the taxi commissions and the labor unions and the government departments that were founded in the 1930s, or will it resemble Silicon Valley? de Blasio’s clear answer is “the former, please.”
As Uber itself notes, this is especially odd given that de Blasio styles himself as a champion of progress:
“Companies like Uber are making New York City’s transportation system more progressive by giving drivers a new way to earn a better living, eliminating discriminatory hailing and allowing New Yorkers to get a ride in every borough,” Uber spokesman Matt Wing said in a statement. “Instead of encouraging this progress, these draft rules threaten the options NYC riders and drivers have come to rely on.”
Indeed so. Because at its root political progressivism is not about innovation; it’s about control.