I had a blog a few days ago about how New York mayor Bill De Blasio took on the ride -sharing behemoth Uber and lost badly. I was not the only one to make that assessment. Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post wrote: “Uber just ran over the mayor of New York.” His plans to limit Uber cars on NYC streets are a thing of the past. For now. The yellow cab industry, however, does not look like it will go down without a fight.
Governor Cuomo was among the chorus of people slobbering over Uber as he called it a “great invention” of the “new economy.”
Still, I am not completely sold.
Uber’s ability to succeed is premised upon our desire (sometimes actually a need) to get somewhere, get there quickly and get there as cheaply as possible. In a word: convenience.
As Tim Hwang and Madeleine Clare Elish concluded in this thoughtful article “[a]s we move toward regulation, we need to question the narratives offered by companies and make sure that policy reflects reality.” I’m hearing the Uber party line being regurgitated over and over and by people both interested and disinterested and it makes me a little uncomfortable maybe because there is a question of what best serves the public good and that may not necessarily always coincide neatly with what’s convenient for me. Sometimes, through this recent whole discussion in New York, it troubled me that Uber seemed, somewhat unabashedly, to be appealing to individual self-interests – and it was successful. And maybe some candidates for President have taken notice.
In any event, this battle’s not over.