Skip to main content

What's the Purpose of Regulation?

Aaron Wiener has a post in which he writes about the newly coined term "Ubertarian" and reading through his five points, actually describes me pretty well. But that's not the point of this post. What I really want to dig into is the idea of regulation versus "free market" which seems to be the cornerstone of this ideology.

He describes:
They support government regulation—except when it inconveniences them. Clamping down on the big banks? Yes, please. Tighter safety standards? Love 'em. Restrictions on app-based taxi competitors, or on the number of bars or restaurants in their neighborhood? An outrageous imposition on the free market!
The DC Taxi Commission is a perfect example of regulatory capture, a failure of government where the agency that's supposed to be the regulator becomes a lobbyist for the very group it's supposed to be regulating. The DCTC often seems more concerned with the livelihood of cab drives than they do about protecting the consumers who use taxi services.

(from Wayan Vota on Flickr) 

Let's take a simpler example. Say I hire two rides. The first is a cab I hail on the street and the second is a car I hire through Uber. Let's say I have equally terrible experiences in both cases. The drivers are rude, the cars are filthy, and the drivers try to exploit me by taking a out-of-the-way route to boost up the fare.

In the first instance, I have to manually write down the driver's ID info. I have to fill out a long form and either mail it, fax it, or drop it off in person at DCTC office in Anacostia (online submissions are not available). It's unlikely I'll ever hear back or that the driver will face any consequences for his actions.

In the second instance, I already have the driver's name and licence plate number and a GPS record of the ride; all I have to do is submit a complaint through the app. The process takes about 60 seconds and it's likely that within a day or two I hear back with an apology and possibly a partial or full refund for the bad route and other problems.

As a consumer, it's obvious which of these two scenarios better protects me. It's not that regulation is "inconvenient", it's that it's failed. DCTC is in the business of protecting the interests of drivers, and killing all competition is part of that. It shouldn't be like this, and the solution from the policy perspective is a complete reform of the regulator and how it functions.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Mixing Sports and Business

In the last two days I've devoured every article in the Washington Post about the Nationals painful and epic defeat on Friday night in the NLDS. It was a tough way to see the season end, there's no doubt about that.

(from wallyg on Flickr)
These articles make it clear that there are a lot of people emotionally invested in professional sports. I think they sometimes they forget that, ultimately, Major League Baseball is big business. Each team is a major corporation and the league itself is an organization governed by a bunch of executives. The television networks that show the games are under contract with the team owners and the games aren't usually available to those without cable.

This is why it can be so hard to be a fan in this game. It's the multi-millionaire and billionaire owners that call most of the shots. They get to decide how much they're willing to spend on players. They get to decide who to hire as the CEO of the company. They get to decide how much t…