Short version: it's an app that matches people who need a taxi to somewhere with a local driver willing to sell them a ride. The taxi companies hate it with the white-hot fury of a billion exploding suns, because it's: cheaper; more reliable; more transparent (you can look up the drivers and leave feedback on rides); and threatens to make a taxi medallion pretty much worthless. Which is why some urban areas - Democratic controlled, naturally - are starting to protect the taxi companies by effectively banning cheaper cab rides.
But that's fine: that means that the GOP can weigh in on the side of free markets and cheaper cab rides. I am so totally happy to encourage them to do that:
The RNC last week launched a pro-free market, anti-government regulations petition to show support for the Uber – building their own lists and raising money in the process.
“Government has a role to play, but that role isn’t to protect the status quo. It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that decide what companies get our business,” Priebus said.
Priebus echoed that sentiment with an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, coordinated with the RNC’s annual summer meeting in that city, that lauded Uber-friendly Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner over Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
The Democrats whined something terrible about this new initiative of the GOP's, which merely means that it's working. The basic issue here is the same as the one that you get with every industrial revolution*: a technological innovation has made a guild's operating methodology essentially obsolete, and the guild doesn't like it in the slightest. In this case, the guild are the taxi companies, who have had a nice, cozy arrangement with local governments to artificially limit the number of taxis on the road in many locations. The governments make large amounts of money selling taxi medallions to companies; the companies jack up prices because they have a cartel going; and consumers grumble. Until they can side-step the entire process by going online to find cheaper cab rides.
You may have noticed that I have used the phrase 'cheaper cab rides' a lot in this post. Think for a moment about the reasons that I might have for doing that.
— Instapundit.com (@instapundit) August 12, 2014
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Yes, I am sorry that the taxi companies spent a lot of money on those medallions, and that they're going to lose a bundle on that transaction. And by 'sorry' I mean 'not really all that sorry.' The current system is deliberately designed to subvert the free market, and it's not my job to be depressed because a third party made what turned out to be a poor business decision.
*Depending on who you ask, we're in the fifth or sixth Industrial Revolution, actually. Or higher: depends on how you score biotechnology, or the Green Revolution, or... it's subjective, is what I am saying. This isn't a video game.