The story of Uber’s fast-track to success is really a remarkable testament to the benefits of free-market capitalism. Overnight an entrepreneur was able to create a billion dollar company that creates more than 20,000 jobs a month, operates in 53 countries and 250 cities, and supports over 140 million rides per year. “Hyper-capitalist manchild” and CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick saw a poor, over-priced, inefficient product in the taxi service industry, and took basic technology and his imagination to create a booming transnational company in a market that is real, sustainable, and profitable. Kalanick’s success is just part of the story. Uber provides a valuable demonstration on how society benefits from a system that allows the free-market to provide a better product at a better price.Uber isn’t just your ordinary taxi service - it’s all about efficiency logistics. In case you’re not familiar with the phone application, it’s incredibly simple. Download the Uber application to your smart phone and after answering about 10 questions, your account is established and you’re ready to call up a ride in minutes. As an Uber rider you know the driver’s name, phone number and location before they arrive. You don’t have to worry about having cash to pay for the trip, or about giving a stranger your credit card, or getting a receipt. In many cases you can even choose a premium, or larger vehicle. With an effortless transaction, you the consumer, get more options than most standard taxi services provide.
Consumers aren’t the only one’s benefiting from this ride-sharing service. Uber drivers are making almost three times more than the average cab driver. Drivers are given the opportunity to work when convenient, and essentially run their own business from a smart phone and car. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York cab drivers make an annual income of $32,000, and Uber claims the average salary of their driver in the same city is $90,000. Uber drivers also get to be their own bosses. As independent franchise owners, Uber drivers can work as much, or as little, as they want. They can set their own hours, take vacation days whenever they want, and unlike many taxi companies, Uber doesn’t charge massive fees for the right to drive for them.
Uber also made it’s founder, a young 30-year-old UCLA dropout, a very wealthy man. That’s the American dream. In a free-market system, imagination and hard work can achieve incredible success.
Not everyone is happy with Uber. Taxi monopolies and government bureaucrats don’t like the idea that they are not in control. The taxi-service industry is a state-sponsored monopoly trying to protect itself, and governments have become reliant on the extra taxes and fees collected from licensed taxis and cab companies. But not every city is holding on to business as usual. Some understand how their citizens benefit from services like Uber and Lyft and are taking action to open up even more opportunities for these Transportation Network Companies. In California, the Orange County Board of Supervisors recently approved internet-based ride services to legally operate at the privately owned John Wayne Airport. This vote is a triumph in the free-market entrepreneurial world, where a business that provides consumer choice, and increases employment opportunities, is given the chance to thrive with less government interference.
As this $18.2 billion dollar commercial industry continues to grow, more government bodies will have to adapt to the demand of Uber in the cities they govern. Take San Francisco for instance, where Uber has attracted more than 16,000 drivers and led to a 65% decline in cab usage. Those statistics speak for themselves.
Taxi companies, desperate to prevent the Uber invasion, are citing safety arguments. But these are simply petty coping mechanisms to prevent them from dealing with the harsh reality of the free-market, where they must adapt or go out of business. Failed taxi companies should not be propped up and protected by government officials who are often dependent on the fees they collect. Nor should politicians allow themselves to be pressured into over-regulating a market to sustain the status quo.
Despite attempts to derail this booming new industry, Uber has proven it’s resilience for one reason -- people love it. Local governments everywhere need to follow Orange County’s example. They understand that government over-regulation stifles opportunity, while a free-market shapes industry in ways that promote the best product, for the best price. We all win when government gets out of the way and allows uber free-markets to succeed.