A delightful story, “Our night as an Uber driver — Using a $500,000 Rolls-Royce,” appears in the current issue of Car and Driver. One passage, in particular, reveals that the writer may have read Madmen. Either that, or the writer has arrived at sound public choice and political change analysis through reasoned examination:
In Uber’s mind, the company is Doing Good. In the eyes of the cabbies, their lunch is being eaten by a bunch of amateurs not subject to the same taxes and regulations. Most of their resistance has just saddled Uber with inconvenience. In Sacramento, bills are working their way toward the governor’s desk that hold ride-sharing drivers to the same background-check, fingerprinting, and insurance standards as cabbies, raising the barrier to entry for drivers. In Britain, Transport for London recently ruled in favor of Uber, concluding that a smartphone is not a taximeter, thus allowing the company to carry on by what seems like a technicality. Las Vegas, by contrast, has managed to keep ride-sharing companies out thus far, thanks to robust local regulations. Inevitably, ride-sharing services will win some battles, while taxi interests will win others. In most places, we imagine the playing field will even out as taxi drivers adopt the newcomers’ tech and the ride-sharing companies become entrenched interests themselves.
As if it were lifted from the implications of our Framework. Bravo, Car and Driver! Ditto on the closing, in which we pan out to the inevitable, and inevitably net positive, consequences of creative destruction.
Unlike Mark Antony, I didn’t come to bury the Caesar of the Peninsula. And if I didn’t come to praise it, I at least wanted to take its temperature. There’s been too much Travis Bickle–style lamentation on the rise of the tech tribe. Some of it happens to be thought-provoking reading, but a real rain isn’t going to come and wash anyone off the street. The fog will roll in, hang for a while, then burn off. That’s what happens in San Francisco, which will be something new again, likely something even more expensive next time than it is now. Whether that has anything to do with cars is anybody’s guess. There will always be Phantom money in The City, even if fewer and fewer people care what a Phantom actually is. It’s just a fancy Uber ride, after all. It’s a nice distraction. It’s not of consequence.