Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The PTC and the Agents for the Status Quo

The Hillsborough Public Transportation Club Commission was in the news again continuing their jihad against Uber and Lyft in Hillsborough County.
Particularly popular with millennials, ride sharing services are in a constant battle against the Agents for the Status Quo.
The battle between technology and established rules came to a Tampa courtroom Friday as Uber and the Public Transportation Commission argued over whether the ride-sharing company could continue to operate in Hillsborough County.

The commission issued a cease and desist letter in January, which Uber has largely ignored. Friday’s hearing was on the commission’s request for a temporary injunction barring Uber from offering rides in Hillsborough County unless it complies with local taxi-cab regulations.
It is not only Hillsborough that is blocking the adoption of technology.  Uber has recently announced they will withdraw from Broward County. New York Mayor de Blasio is embattled with Uber, trying to control access to the city streets. Huh? Uber responded with a "de Blasio" mode in their mobile app to show excessive wait times due to de Blasio's rationing plan in the city.

But de Blasio has a plan to reign in Uber.
A top de Blasio ally said City Hall also expects the city’s organized left — the labor movement and its outgrowths — will help organize opposition to Uber. They are the closest thing around to natural supporters for the mayor’s side, because it’s hard to imagine de Blasio rallying much of anyone to the yellow cab industry.
Align with the status quo unions to avoid the future. Not a force ready for change.

Image result for uber
Uber vs. status quo
Even Hillary weighed in as a Luddite, in her typical have it both ways style.
Speaking last week at the New School in Manhattan, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she wanted to help the hard-pressed middle class.
But she also attacked the freedom that produces dynamism.

She brought up what she called the “on demand” or “gig economy,” meaning upstarts like Airbnb, which lets people book their homes for short-term rentals, and such ride-sharing companies as Uber and Lyft. She said this development is “creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

She added that, as president, she would “crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors.”
Speaking of "raising hard questions", Hillary's had enough problems figuring out her email lately. She would better serve us if she were to crack down on herself exploiting legal loopholes and misclassifying email she owes the people she wants to serve.

Talk about not getting it. Hillary, who last actually drove a car in 1996, likely has not been in a taxi since forever, is clueless about modern application of technologies... and economics, and personal choice and motivation.

I wonder what she thought about the iPhone when it was introduced.

On second thought, I don't want to know.

Uber drivers work when they want, stop working when they want. Uber has no control of their schedule. The drivers only get paid when they work. They are independent contractors. Welcome to the new world of the gig economy.

But with all her driving experience, Hillary knows better.

Meanwhile, taking a strong stand for a politician these days, Jeb Bush rode Uber in San Francisco recently.

Jeb's no technophobe.

According to this recent Wall Street Journal commentary:
Republican presidential candidates are having fun with all this. Marco Rubio,who last year sided with Uber over regulators in Miami, accused Mrs. Clinton of trying to “regulate 21st-century industries with 20th-century ideas.” Jeb Bushpointedly traveled by Uber for his visit to Thumbtack, a Silicon Valley startup. Meanwhile, Rand Paul says he would like our government to adopt the Uber model—more information and customer ratings—while Ted Cruz says his campaign will be as disruptive of politics-as-usual as Uber is of old business models.
At the state of Florida level, state Senator Jeff Brandes is preparing to take down the PTC again.
Led by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, lawmakers have contemplated a number of bills over the past two sessions that would prevent local governments from over-regulating the ride-sharing companies. One pitched last session would have created a statewide regulatory framework for the companies that might have eliminated the local regulations constraining the companies. But the bills failed to pass.

Efforts by some state lawmakers over the years to eliminate the PTC altogether and hand the regulatory duties over to county officials have also failed. Brandes says he is determined to try again when the Legislature meets in August.
“There’s no reason for the PTC to exist,” he says. “It’s a red-tape factory.”

The commission’s regulation of Uber and Lyft limits opportunities for people wanting to earn extra cash and stymies innovation, he says. No other county in the state has an agency like the PTC.
Hillary, de Blasio, and the PTC are working against new transportation and work choices, while protecting the taxi industry, which they avoid in their chauffeur driven limos and SUVs.

They are the new Agents for the Status Quo, protecting a favored industry, the taxi club, who donates back to the Agents for the Status Quo for campaign donations. Yet another circle of money they use against the rest of us.

This not a right vs. left issue. David Plouffe, formerly Obama's campaign manager, is working for Uber. Hillary and de Blasio are on the left, but much of the Hillsborough PTC leadership are Republicans.

Locally, the Hillsborough Commissioners have started the process to sell us on a new sales tax to improve transportation. Yet three Republican commissioners on the PTC board - Ken Hagan, Victor Crist, and Al Higginbothom, seem to spend more effort trying to run Uber and Lyft out of town than they are exerting political leadership on the flawed GoHillsborough plan.

The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Meanwhile, Uber continues to invest in the state of Florida, having just announced their Miami headquarters.

One of the world's leading tech innovators, Uber, is investing in Miami where they are allowed to operate, rather than locally in Tampa, where we talk about Innovation Alliances and Destinations. But won't walk the walk.

Uber noticed. Will others innovators notice?

If the Republicans were smart, they'd start to use this "gig economy" with Uber and Lyft as an issue at the national level, since it is a favorite of millennials. Hillary won't be able to defend her position with more dissembling. Then perhaps millennials will listen to who's really pro-innovation, and who's the Agent for the Status Quo.  Hopefully our local sheep politicians will then get the message and stop acting as enemies of the future.

Is Uber the future? Let's find out.
“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck.”

Robert A. Heinlein

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