The Uber revolution has created a surge of support for free markets, although not every Uber advocate realizes what he or she is supporting. Those who use the ride-sharing service know the difference it has made in their lives, and they resent attempts to maintain (or resurrect) the taxi cartels’ political privilege.
What’s most surprising is the quality of the arguments Uber’s defenders make on social networks and elsewhere. Not only do they condemn legal barriers to entry; they even talk of the inherently coercive nature of a state-licensed system.
Customers know that it’s not from the driver’s benevolence that the bottled water, candies, and kindness come.
Many appeal to freedom of choice: Why should they be limited to one service when it should be possible to choose from many different options? Some criticize the low quality of government-protected taxi services compared to the new entrants, pointing out that competition leads to a general improvement of the service and consumer’s well-being. Others even claim that if it were up to the legislators, we’d still be using horse-drawn carriages and manual typewriters.
To this wave of supporters — I think of them as “lubertarians” — Uber is already sufficiently regulated by its customers.
All these arguments, typically defended by libertarians and classical liberals for centuries, are being made spontaneously by people who, whether through ignorance or choice, probably wrinkle their noses when hear the term libertarian.
The App Economy Promotes Common Sense
There’s a reason that people’s common-sense notions about Uber, ride sharing, and the app economy in general line up so well with free-market ideas. As economist Donald Boudreaux points out, we are now so used to the fluidity of markets in our daily lives that we never question how the exchanges made by billions of strangers can work so well…