14 Sep A “Millennial View” Hillary’s Uber Gaffe
[LCWT Note: “Millenials” seem to be a coveted category of voters. As with other voter groups, we doubt whether the thinking attributed to them is as monolithic as the mainstream media and political consultant class would have everyone believe. In fact, the terms “Democrat” and “Republican” may well become obsolete before millennials become seniors. Our hope is that they become lovers of liberty.
The good news for LCWT is that there is evidence that millennials are beginning toawake to the reality that the consequences of a tyrannical and out-of-control federal government and unsustainable national debt are going to fall heaviest on them and their experience of freedom. They are also finding that the exercise of government control isn’t inevitably intelligent, enlightened, fair, evenhanded, or honest; often it’s just about preserving entrenched pockets of social, economic or political power.
From time to time, we’ll post comments and essays from our millennial friends which highlight the wakeup and recognition that is ongoing.]
The millennial crowd is not enamored with the Democrat stance on the sharing economy and instant economy. For those who don’t know, “sharing economy” is a broad term that encompasses a business that allows people to make use of the resources they already have to make money. Uber, which allows people to give others rides in their own cars, is one, and Airbnb, which allows people to rent out their homes and apartments, is another. “Instant economy” includes those, but also other on-demand services like Instacart that deliver groceries on demand. What they have in common is both their on-demand nature and the fact that in most cases, they employ contractors to do the work, rather than full-time employees.
In a recent speech, Hillary Clinton noted that while these companies are creating exciting opportunities, they are also “raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.” Rand Paul and Jeb Bush were among many (including a National Review editorial) that quickly jumped to defend Uber and other companies in that group.
Why is this such a big deal?
First, it’s an opportunity to talk to a crowd that isn’t listening what might be called a Republican or ‘conservative’ message a ton: the young and the tech-y. I was at a friend’s wedding recently when the bride’s sister brought up Hillary’s speech and commented on how strange and close-minded it was – she was surprised and disgusted. She turned to me, said “aren’t you a Republican?” and asked what I thought about it. But this is much bigger than defending specific companies in the sharing economy. This is about spreading the message of the benefits of free markets vs. needless regulation. Uber and its instant economy peers allow almost perfect matching of supply and demand. They are allowing prices to change so that drivers make more money when more people are asking for rides, bringing drivers and riders into a city at the same rates to match supply and demand, and allowing drivers to drive when it’s convenient for them.
They are also, as a new, easy, app-based competitor, infinitely more convenient for the consumer than taxi companies, who have enjoyed a protected status for so long that they’ve forgotten what a good customer experience looks like. One only needs to wait in line at a Vegas hotel for over an hour- or take a ride in a smelly, old cab – get turned down trying to pay with a card – or discover how hard it is to get a cab when it’s rainy – to remember that.
And finally, this is a chance to defend flexible employment models. Uber and others like it offer the chance for someone working a full-time job to make an extra buck on the side; the chance for someone laid off suddenly to have an easy gig to fall back on in hard times. I’ve talked to many drivers who say this job has brought them through tough circumstances, and even helped them turn their lives around.
Stopping and starting employment easily helps plug gaps for many people in a way full-time employment can’t. If we don’t have that option available, as those who would regulate the instant economy suggest (by making all contractors be full-time employees), there will be fewer jobs available, they will be harder to get, and they will only be open to people who want to be full-time. And the prices of these services will rise.
So: if someone brings up the Uber question, speak up! You’re in the right (get it?)