Bernie Sanders considers himself to be a champion of the little guy. Such is the standard shtick of any “progressive” politician. Sanders says he wants to help the poor and the middle class.
In truth, however, Sanders only cares about a particular segment of “little guys,” those who pay union dues from which political contributions are offered. Nothing may highlight this fact more than Sanders’ opposition to the emerging sharing economy. The Daily Caller recently expounded on how Sanders “does NOT like Uber.”
Sanders said he has “serious problems” with Uber because it is so “unregulated.”
Standing against companies like Uber is not too surprising for Sanders. He has made labor policy and union rights a fundamental aspect of his campaign. He has even been able to gain support from many union leaders who have been upset with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
It’s as if “the little guy” only ever works in a union. In truth, the real little guys are making their way in this emergent economic frontier. Individual contractors utilize what they have — their vehicle, their time, and their good name — to either make a full-time living or supplement their existing income. These are the littlest of little guys, working essentially alone, operating independently, and competing against an established and deeply entrenched ground-transportation industry.
Uber, Lyft, and similar technology companies have opened up a world of possibility for people in a wide variety of circumstances. On the partner side, they offer the opportunity to earn money on a truly customized schedule. Drivers can work as much or as little as they see fit, whenever it suits them.
On the customer side, ride-sharing offers a superior service to the highly regulated (and thus stagnant) taxi industry. Uber transactions occur electronically, with no cash exchanging hands between riders and drivers. It all happens in the app without so much as running a credit card. A feedback system incentivizes drivers to provide a pleasant experience.
The sharing economy is good for little guys who want to make money, and other little guys who want a superior customer experience. Why then do so-called “progressives” oppose this particular form of progress? The Daily Caller expounds:
Unions have been some of the more adamant rivals of [the sharing economy]. Contracting as a whole makes it more difficult for unions to organize workers, because unions have to pursue one contractor at a time as opposed to all employees within a single workplace.
Though contractors can still join a union, it’s much easier to unionize employees because consent doesn’t have to be unanimous. If a union can get the majority of employees within a single bargaining unit to agree to representation, it becomes the Exclusive Representative of all the employees.
If that union happens to exist in a mandatory dues state, all the employees within a unionized bargaining until must pay union dues or fees whether they agree with the union or not.
Pols like Bernie Sanders wax poetic about big business and rich fat cats exploiting the little guy. In truth, Sanders seeks to propel himself to power on the backs of crushed entrepreneurial dreams. It’s a numbers game. The rich will always be a minority. So it’s easy to demonize them. Similarly, the aspiring poor will always be a minority. So they get to be demonized too.
It’s the politics of stagnation. Keep things the way they are, maintain the status quo through the force of law. That way, those comfortable with their current station never have to compete to maintain it. That’s the union culture in a nutshell, and it’s a big part of why many who aspire to more can’t have nice things.
Ironically, even some Uber drivers have jumped on the anti-Uber bandwagon. In New York City, where Uber drivers must be specially licensed, Mayor Bill de Blasio has been working to cap their number. As reported by Inc., existing Uber drivers approve:
To the App-Based Drivers Association in Seattle, the cap doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
“Drivers don’t make more money when there’s more cars on the road,” says association business representative Dawn Gearhart — at least not in Seattle, she adds.
The App-Based Drivers Association is a Teamsters union organization. Teamsters has other such associations in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. and represents a total of roughly 5,000 Uber drivers, according to Gearhart. Uber has called the association bogus.
The irony of opposing the entrepreneurial growth which made their jobs possible is apparently lost on the association’s membership.
That raises the question: does our society deserve a service as awesome as Uber or Lyft? Do we deserve real social progress? Only if we’re willing to endure the cost of liberty.
People say “freedom isn’t free,” and typically mean some have fought and died to protect it. That’s true. But freedom also isn’t free because we must work to survive and thrive within it. We must be willing to rise and fall on our own effort, to deal rationally and intentionally with the unfettered competition of others rather than insist they be stopped by law.