When innovation meets Progressives and pressure

Thursday, June 29, 2017
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Uber sloganNot every city is a fan of innovation. 

Jared Meyer, senior research fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability and author of How Progressive Cities Fight Innovation, has conducted extensive national research on the impact of government regulation of innovative services.

Discussing the results of his studies, Meyer tells OneNewsNow the map is "all over the place" in terms of regulations on Uber and Airbnb.

Uber, launched in 2009,competes with cab companies by offering rides arranged by private drivers. Airbnb is an online room rental service that began in 2008.  

“Some cities completely outlaw renting out part of your home or apartment on Airbnb, and others enthusiastically embrace ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft,” explains Meyer. “So it really depends on the city, and you’re going to get tons of different regulations depending on where you’re looking in the country.” 

Meyer says this inconsistent regulation is not happening only in progressive cities located in “blue” states.

For example, he recounts that in 2015 Nashville bowed to pressure from special interests in the hotel industry and organized labor by passing an ordinance that restricted residents’ freedom to rent out their homes.

Some states, meanwhile, have passed or are considering legislation to prevent cities from enacting restrictions that frown on new online services connecting buyers and sellers – i.e., the sharing economy. 

“The sharing economy is something that Progressives should embrace, never mind that it’s just embracing changes in technology,” continues Meyer. “But what we’ve seen is that over the past few years, the battle lines have been drawn where we have proudly progressive mayors and city council members fighting back against these services, rather than wholeheartedly embracing them.” 

For too long, Meyer says, cities established policies that effectively created government monopolies on certain services, specifically with for-hire vehicles. 

Concerning his study of such government monopolies, Meyer says private, for-hire transportation became a "luxury" enjoyed only by the wealthy.

“Now, because Uber and Lyft were able to go around these decades-old antiquated regulations," says the researcher, "they brought that service truly to the 99 percent. So I would hope that if they went under, we would have a new competitor step in that would be able to serve even more people effectively and affordably.” 

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