The Corner

Reds Hate Uber

Muppet News Flash: Dopey socialists still hate capitalism.

Writing in Alternet, Allegra Kirkland warns readers about “5 Traits Uber Shares With Exploitative Old School Capitalist Companies.” It is so retro you expect her to start writing about the enlarged plenums of the Party’s executive committee. Miss Kirkland’s analysis is not worth the time it would take to dismiss it out of hand, but it’s worth noting that she ends the piece with simple political gang-sign flashing:

After all, when Uber is being defended by the likes of Michael Bloomberg — who once claimed he would “f****** destroy” the taxi industry — while Kshama Sawant and unions are arguing for the protection of drivers, maybe the rush to advance “innovative” ride-sharing services merits rerouting into the slow lane.

Mike Bloomberg, whatever his defects, built something — a pretty good business. Politicians and their pet unions are parasites whose material existence is possible only because of capitalists such as Bloomberg. Naturally, Alternet loathes the people who actually make and do things.

Kshama Sawant is a socialist member of the Seattle city council who led a fairly vicious anti-Uber campaign, which was ultimately unsuccessful, as such campaigns tend to be. (Socialism — ideas so good they have to be enforced at gunpoint.) She’s pretty retro, too, signing fund-raising appeals “In Solidarity,” and supporting herself in the traditional socialist style, which is to say by being married to capitalism, in the form of her Microsoft-engineer husband.

There was a time when socialists supported democratizing the means of production, which is in part what services such as Uber do. In most places, the barrier to entry into the taxi market is not the cost of a car but the cost of paying local political chieftains and their business partners for the privilege of allowing you to engage in commerce. The price for the privilege of operating a single taxi in New York City currently is more than $1 million, and of course that $1 million does not purchase any cars or pay any drivers; it’s just a payoff to the politicians and the politically connected. The cost is an entirely artificial imposition. You could launch a fleet of 20 E-Class Mercedes sedans with that money. The sole function of the $1 million entry price is to keep non-millionaires out of the market. 

What critics do not seem to understand is that from the consumer’s point of view, Uber’s regulatory runaround is a feature, not a bug. Of course the traditional taxi industry is highly regulated and generally unionized. That’s why it is awful, and why people with a choice prefer other options. Let me go ahead and deputize myself to speak for every New York City resident at 5:35 p.m. — Uber is an indispensable complement to gypsy cabs and the other blessed lawbreakers who make this city livable. 

But what Miss Kirkland really fails to appreciate is the ironic juxtaposition of Uber against Kshama Sawant. People will vote for anything, because voters are dolts and easily distracted by shiny objects. But when they’re spending their own money on their own interests, they go with Uber. Americans are only idiots with other people’s resources. Revealed preferences for the win. 

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