I see Uber as more than just a taxi app which lets us get around. From a student’s perspective, it is yet another innovation that has increasingly come to define our generation. It’s even coined the term ‘uberization’ – combining modern technology with radically transform a traditional industry such as taxicabs.
Young people are intimately linked to technology. When we want a delivery pizza, we don’t call up Pizza Hut on our landlines, we go on Deliveroo and expect our food within the hour. When we want to hear the new Dizzie Rascal album we don’t walk into HMV, we press a button on Spotify.
In a world where we face economic problems that our parents never did, such as ridiculous house price to earnings ratios, and stagnating real wages, the march of technology has improved our lives more than we care to realise. That’s why I was so disheartened to hear of Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to revoke Uber’s license, citing problems with Uber’s safety mechanisms and recruitment processes.
TfL’s decision was motivated by a quasi-socialist driven dislike of Uber
TfL’s official, and I stress, official reasons for revoking the license do have some merit. Uber drivers have been embroiled in various scandals in the last year, and vetting processes could be tightened. Whilst this does not warrant a ban, it certainly does warrant a serious look at how Uber operates in London. But do not be fooled by these reasons. TfL’s decision was motivated by a quasi-socialist driven dislike of Uber, rather than any of these stated issues with the firm and its operating practices. Such grievances would predicate reform of business structures, and not an outright ban.
Unfortunately it is the left’s belief that Uber drivers are providing unfair competition against black taxi drivers, that is the real reason for the ban. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is even on record saying that he regretted TfL’s decision to give Uber a license in the first place. Now that it has been revoked, he and his political associates say that fairness can be restored to the taxi market. This example of socialist driven protectionism is often given the veneer of being good for workers against the forces of global capitalism. In this case, black taxi drivers have been safeguarded at the expense of the evil, faceless Uber. Rejoice comrades!
However as in every example of protectionism, this is not the case, and Uber’s example is an unusually clear instance of this. It is always the consumers and other workers that face the negative repercussions of such political decisions. If the ban goes through, approximately 40,000 Uber drivers will lose their jobs. 40,000 people, let that just sink in for a minute. That’s 40,000 fewer people bringing home a wage for their families and facing intense financial strain. Because black taxi drivers have an organised union-like voice, they are heard over the less powerful and numerous Uber drivers.
But as usual, socialists and TfL don’t give a toss about this, provided the loud and powerful black taxi drivers get their way
The consumer will also feel the financial cost of this, and as young people make up a disproportionally large chunk of Uber’s clientele, it will be us who pay for this. Just think for a minute when was the last time you took a black cab in London over an Uber? The answer is probably a very long time ago – and frankly why would you? You’d have to be a very well off student to choose a service that costs more than twice as much as an Uber to get you from A to B. It’s simple economics which leftists seem to dislike and ignore. Put simply, if the ban goes through, getting around in London will become a lot more expensive for you.
But as usual, socialists and TfL don’t give a toss about this, provided the loud and powerful black taxi drivers get their way. It’s their small gain for the loss of the general consumer, and more importantly the livelihood of Uber drivers.
So much for acting in the interests of ‘the many, and not the few.’