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The War Against Uber




The talented and lovely Jamie Murguia over at the S.C. Policy Council has an interesting piece up this week on Uber – the ride-sharing service that represents the very best of technological innovation, free market principles and environmental stewardship.

Uber is a web-based application that allows people to contract for transportation services and ride-sharing.  Founded in San Francisco in 2009, it recently launched in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Have state officials welcomed Uber?  Hell no.  As Murguia points out in her piece, “the Office of Regulatory Staff issued a memo discouraging citizens from using the ride-sharing app because Uber vehicles and their drivers had not been properly inspected and licensed by the agency in the way traditional taxi cabs and their drivers are.”

ORS agents also infiltrated an Uber planning meeting in an attempt to “obtain information … regarding the driver/partner recruitment process.”

Meanwhile the City of Columbia, S.C. has announced a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to Uber users.

“When officers detect or find (Uber) drivers that aren’t in compliance with city codes, they would be charged with whatever violations the officer finds, mainly the vehicle not being inspected and also the chauffeur’s permit, not having a chauffeur’s permit issued by the police department,” one CPD officer recently told local television station WLTX TV 19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.).

Ah yes, “permits.”

Uber – which is worth an estimated $18.2 billion – said it had no problem covering the costs of “unjust” tickets.

“This is clearly an attempt to protect the taxi industry that has failed its customers in South Carolina,” a company spokesman said. “Preventing our driver partners from earning a living and getting people safely and reliably around town doesn’t just hurt the residents and visitors, it hurts the cities. Uber is providing safer and cheaper transportation options and we’re creating jobs throughout the state. We fully stand by our driver partners and will cover the cost of any unjust citation.”

Murguia said the Uber case highlights the backward perspective of government – which is always looking for ways to crack down on entrepreneurial activity rather than considering whether the regulations against it should be eliminated.

“The state could use Uber’s arrival in South Carolina as an opportunity to review industry regulations that most observers agree are outdated,” she wrote. “More competition always leads to better service and expanded economic activity.”

We agree …

Government should keep its hands off Uber.  Meanwhile our elected officials should start reviewing which regulations should stay – and which ones should go.  You know … instead of just pretending to do so.

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