On one side you have entrepreneurs, smart phones, and the trendy, on the other: unions, regulations and institutions.
What’s a progressive to do? I support unions and reasonable regulation, and being an older dude, certain institutions. But the times they are a changin’. Is it a bad thing that someone with a decent rig and time on their hands shouldn’t make some extra cash? Plus, consumers get more availability and options.
Then again, there are the union cab drivers trying to make a living, municipal incomes from licensing and fees, and the ethically-challenged Uber management style.
Not to mention a safety issue: bad driving, assaults, and sexual harassment at the hands of amateur, poorly-regulated Uber drivers. (On the flip side, one of the scariest rides of my life was from a San Fransisco cabbie who thought he was Steve McQueen from the movie Bullitt.)
Uber has been in the Montana news lately and it could be a metaphor for an economy in transition and, perhaps, our political landscape. This is unchartered territory. The old business models are out the window.
I’ve been following the debate over at a 4&20 post critical of Uber (and of some Democrats advancing Uber-style apps). It’s the free marketeers and new economy v. regulation and worker protection.
But this extends beyond Uber. There are Airbnb and VRBO, challenging the hospitality industry; all the LBS (Location Based Services) threatening retail, marketing, advertising and billing businesses. Medicine, law and education all have their apps.
But as Silicon Valley looks ever more closely at “disrupting” the real world economy, and the legislation that binds it, the culture wars look set to intensify.
How progressives weigh in on the economics, politics and culture of this brave, new world could be paramount to our future. If possible, instead of playing catch up, we need to stay ahead of this.