Taxi cab regulators in reverse

Courtesy of MCT


Ever since the invention of the wheel, technological innovation has been synonymous with progress. In the case of a new taxi-hailing app, however, bureaucratic greed is attempting to halt progress for the sake of making more money.

At the center of the whole issue is Uber, an app that connects customers directly with car service companies. Cab drivers who agree to work with Uber receive free iPhones that allow them to locate people who are requesting a ride through the app.

It comes as no major surprise that this app has ruffled some feathers with traffic regulators around the country. The notion of cutting out needless middle men is apparently not too appealing to said men-in-the-middle. Vehicle processing centers are completely cut out of the equation thanks to this app, and that’s a lot of money out of the pockets of people who have been taking advantage of a hole in communication up to this point.

Uber is currently facing legal battles with San Francisco and Chicago, and is dealing with a $20,000 fine from the California Public Utilities Commission.

It’s easier to appreciate the absurdity of this situation if we reduce it down to a more simple picture. Imagine that there’s a river that everybody would like to cross over, but nobody has the materials to build a bridge. At some point, a conniving troll takes a rotting log and lays it across the river, letting people pass if they pay him. Eventually, a craftsman gets the materials he needs and builds a beautiful bridge, allowing everyone to pass for free.

In this situation, the troll has essentially beaten up the craftsman and ordered him to tear down his bridge, because it is interfering with the “business operation” already in place.

In the end, it just looks like a corporate entity throwing a tantrum because they’re no longer relevant. Only in today’s society would this happen without massive eyebrow raising from the public. Some of our (considerably) older readers might remember the days of switchboard operators, who connected incoming calls to the correct extension.

Obviously enough, we are well beyond the days of telephone operators at this point. What’s more, there wasn’t an enormous corporate hissy fit when the time came to get rid of them, either. You won’t find the Great Operator Uprising of the 1960s in any textbook. That’s because people acted rationally about it; they realized that they had become outmoded thanks to the development of technology, and gracefully took their place within the annals of history.

We can only cling to the bureaucracies of old for so long before it starts to look ridiculous. Imagine if carriage drivers had filed lawsuits against the makers of the first automobile, or if future flying cars are sued for being able to fly over toll booths.

Making a big deal about an app like this sends a message; the vehicle processing companies refusing to let go on this issue is like saying “it’s okay for technology to advance, but let’s not get too crazy here.”

Societal and technological progress should not be held back the personal and business interests of greedy individuals who have situated themselves in the gaps that technology has yet to fill. Advancement in technology allows us to streamline our society, to make it neater, cleaner and more straightforward.

To cling to an outdated system and create glaring inconsistencies between what we could be doing and what we actually do, just so some companies can rake in more cash, is the epitome of pettiness.

About Jonathan Winslow

Jonathan is a staff writer on the Daily Titan. Serving as a staff writer of the Daily Titan is a requirement for all Journalism majors.