Uber, Millennials and the Struggle for the Free Market

Contrary to its savvy public-relations campaigns, Uber is not a perfect company. Its app-system is patchy, its customer service representatives often offer irrelevant responses to rider concerns and Uber drivers and their cars vary in quality. Still, Uber currently rules the ride-sharing market. That’s because its throne sits on a firm foundation: Uber offers easier travel at cheaper prices than its Taxi service and ride-sharing competitors.

Nevertheless, Uber faces mounting challenges. Uber’s top ride-sharing competitor, Lyft, is working hard to establish a global partnership to challenge Uber’s dominance. Moreover, new ride sharing companies are entering the market. As the Boston Herald reports, a new ride-sharing service, Fasten, recently launched in Beantown. Taking a lower commission from drivers, and using a rider-centric alternative to Uber and Lyft surge-pricing schemes, Fasten thinks it has a market gap. Regardless, this competition is great news for consumers. The struggle for riders is leading to improvements in service, pricing and business model innovation.

Unfortunately, from Frankfurt to Paris, Madrid to Rome, Sao Paulo to San Francisco, London to New York and beyond, ride-sharing firms are under attack from increasingly aggressive enemies. Propelled by union cash, uncompetitive taxi firms, political intimidation and simple thuggery, this anti free market alliance unites the worst of liberal “special interests.”

The anti-ride sharing alliance is trodding upon thin political ice

Fortunately however, the alliance is being resisted. After all, finding personal benefit in ride sharing firms, traditionally liberal voting blocs — notably Millennials — are mobilizing to protect their interests. In New York City, facing Mayor Bill De Blasio’s efforts to neuter Uber, the company initiated an innovative mobilization campaign that forced the Mayor to back down. Facing similar regulations in London, Uber has launched a petition that has attracted more than 129,000 signatures. As the race to become London’s next mayor heats up, the Uber issue will rise up the agenda.

This speaks to a broader reality. The anti-ride sharing alliance is trodding upon thin political ice. The ride-sharing industry’s utility — both to drivers (in new earning opportunities) and riders (in greater service utility) — is obvious. While Millennials aren’t always politically engaged, when an industry that benefits them comes under attack, they take notice.

And we Millennials are right to do so. Ultimately, this isn’t about cars and journeys. It’s about a struggle between opportunity and authoritarianism, between competition and monopoly power, between wealth creation and wealth segregation. For better or worse, it’s a struggle that will help shape the future of our economy.

A struggle that matters.

Tom Rogan is a contributor for Opportunity Lives and writes for National Review. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.