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Congratulations Jessy Edwards for Uber story

  • September 22nd, 2015

Yesterday’s post complained that MSM reporting doesn’t mention the consumer’s great win from internet disintermediation in accomodation and taxi markets. This morning’s DomPost seemed to prove my point with a sorry beat up from the Taxi Federation of the Uber passenger safety risk.

The risk is real but we consumers properly dismiss it. Like my risk of being knocked off my bike, or a heart attack from what I eat, there are many consequences a free society leaves us to choose individually according to our feeling whether the  benefits outweigh the risks.  The Federation does not want to accept the lessons of TradeMe, Uber,  AirBnB and so on, that reputation feedback mechanisms are beating regulatory precautionary prohibitions in both efficiency and effectiveness.

Then I found on Stuff Jessy Edwards’ engaging survey of the issues. She has explored the consumer benefit, psychic as well as financial, and the delight of drivers freed to work for themselves under the Uber contracting model.

Our dreary employment lawyers and the Ministers who feed them ambiguous law could yet put a stop to this. But for the present I back the infectious enthusiasm of  Transport Minister Simon Bridges for keeping regulators away from this incredible improvement in consumer welfare. He’s a consolation in this government.

I hope he can spare time to suggest to Paula Bennett as Minister of Local Government, that she fire a warning shot in her portfolio. Local government should be told that the law changes in the offing could include one requiring them to reduce or remove barriers to competition that benefits consumers. So Councils looking to dong people who let their baches privately or through TradeMe and its competitors should first have to prove that the ratepayers who rent baches are costing the Council more than permanent residents. Better yet would be rigorous cost benefit evaluation, taking into account the revenue to the district from the visitors.

And moteliers should not be paying more just because they are commercial. They should pay more only as a reflection of extra cost to the Council, if any.

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