May 11, 2016

UBER VS. THE SECOND-RATE CITIES: “Given a choice between annoying its long-established transit cartels and confirming itself as second-rate, Austin voted for second-rate,” former Austin resident Kevin D. Williamson writes:

In December, Austin’s city council passed a set of regulations that make it difficult for companies such as Uber and Lyft, another app-based ride-sharing outfit, to operate in the Texas capital. A referendum would have overturned those regulations, but Austin’s voters rejected it. Austinites are conservative in the old-fashioned sense of that word, the way politically progressive people in San Francisco and Tribeca tend to be deeply conservative, desiring to preserve their favorite coffee shops in amber. Even Austin’s unofficial city motto — “Keep Austin Weird” — is fundamentally conservative, in that sense. Disruptive innovation? Not in my backyard, says Austin.

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As our friend Avik Roy points out, the same city council that is demanding criminal background checks on Uber drivers had, only six weeks before, prohibited other companies from asking job applicants about their criminal histories. This isn’t about safety — it’s about the taxi racket and the gentlemen who operate it, an old-fashioned Democratic interest group.

Related:

Voter turnout for Prop 1 was at 17%, with Uber/Lyft losing the election by 12%. Given the number of voters who showed up at the polls, Uber/Lyft spent $223.15 for each vote that they received. The reason why voter turnout was so low as simply because one of Uber and Lyft’s target markets, college students, really don’t want to take the time to vote. I’ll admit that people my age don’t care enough to prevent something like this from occurring, instead opting to wait until what they like is taken away from them for them to complain. It’s been fascinating seeing the backlash on social media following Prop 1’s decision, especially given that it isn’t statistically possible for all of the students complaining to have actually voted for the proposition.

“Why Uber and Lyft left Austin,” at Medium.com.

(H/T: 5’F)