Governmental regulations exist to promote and enforce safety. Regulations also help level playing fields and ensure consumers are protected. Unfortunately, some believe regulations exist in order to favor one form of business over another. In many cases, the wheels of government bureaucracy are manipulated to alter private competition.
A recent article published in The Huffington Post by a St. Louis cab driver, Umar Lee, shows how the role of regulations can be grossly misinterpreted for personal gain.
Lee claims to have negative things to say about Uber and Lyft. Why? Lee explains that these companies represent "right-wing economics of the GOP" and the increase of options for customers. He calls out hipsters and the media for abandoning taxi services and opting for other rideshare options, labeling them opponents of a "humane and just society." He goes so far to dismiss various groups for what he believes is their embrace of economically practical solutions, calling them bad progressives for "siding with the conservatives."
Lee's claims are outlandish, at best. At worst, they are politically manipulative and represent a complete lack of understanding of the very guiding principles of our free-market economy.
Our Founding Fathers envisioned an economy where new ideas and practical decisions would lay the groundwork for innovation and progress. Where innovation thrives, outdated and unimaginative companies and systems fail. The free-market system is not just a Republican concept -- rather, it is American. American ingenuity has allowed for new, and better, ideas to come to fruition over time. Since the first steam engines hauled coal out of England's mines, a ceaseless cycle of new technologies and ideas have captured the public imagination, spurred the economy, and added to the public good. Our culture is not meant to remain stagnant; rather, we should constantly strive to research and develop more environmentally and economically viable solutions, granting us a better way of life in the future. This means more renewable solutions developed, as well as money and time saving options pursued, such as Uber and Lyft.
Industries protect themselves with a wide range of strategies based on their market power and their ability to influence legislation. They seek to extend their profitability and market dominance long after the sun has begun to set on the innovations they pioneered. These strategies stunt innovation. They damage the ability of small companies with great ideas to secure funding and bring concepts to market.
Innovation drives progress, and ultimately consumer choice reflects the relative strength or weakness of a particular product.
Bill Gates undoubtedly disliked the rivalry of Steve Jobs. However, you did not hear him calling for new regulations to outlaw all competition. Microsoft deliberately improved its products to compete with challengers, and their rivalry strengthened both product lines.
If the taxi industry is wise, they will do the same, instead of calling for unlawful regulations as a solution.
Follow Brigham A. McCown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bamccown