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Hullabaloo


Thursday, August 07, 2014

 
The "Uber" strategy will backfire on Republicans, showing again how wrong they are

by David Atkins

Republicans see the libertarian, de-regulated, de-unionized business model of Uber and Lyft as one of their keys to the youth vote:

Republicans love Uber. Young urban voters love Uber. And Republicans hope that means young voters can learn to love the GOP.

Car-hailing and ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others are wildly popular among wealthy, young, tech-savvy urbanites — precisely the kind of voters that the Republican Party needs to win over to remain competitive in the long run. Those same services also just happen to be warring with government regulators in cities across the country over whether the upstarts are operating illegally as unlicensed taxi services.

Republicans see it as the perfect opportunity to help sell the GOP’s free-market, lower-regulation message to a younger generation of voters they’ve struggled to win over in the past few elections and who often feel alienated by the GOP’s social conservatism.

On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee pounced, launching a petition to support Uber saying “taxi unions and liberal government bureaucrats are setting up roadblocks, issuing strangling regulations and implementing unnecessary red tape to block Uber from doing business in their cities.”
That's fine insofar as it goes. Except that "big libertarian" appeal is quickly going to put every driver out of a job. In case the GOP hasn't heard, Uber is going to merge with and be replaced by self-driving cars within a couple of decades.
The fact is that Uber is simply using human drivers as a temporary stop gap. Uber's long-term future is to try to become the driverless cab company of the future.

In the short term, the GOP may enjoy a temporary political boost from wedding themselves to Uber and Lyft to make labor unions and the Democratic Party seem like taxicab dinosaurs. But longer term, Uber and Lyft are going to be part of the story of how and why mechanization and flattening are killing American jobs, why letting the libertarian free market run roughshod doesn't really work, and why we may need a univeral basic income to solve the problem.


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