mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Uber Alles? Nein!
German Court Bans Uber for Entire Country

It’s the protectionism that just won’t quit: first regulators banned Uber in Berlin, and now a German court has banned it for the entire country. Because Uber’s drivers aren’t licensed like official taxi drivers are, the trade association Taxi Deutschland was able to bring a suit against the service for violating German regulations. A Frankfurt court has now ruled in favor of the association, and Uber could be penalized as much as $328,225 for every trip one of its cars takes in violation of the ban. But the issues involved here are much wider than a dispute over a few discrete taxi regulations, as the FT points out

Neelie Kroes, the EU commissioner for the Digital Agenda, tweeted: “The digital revolution presents us with choices: will we seize new opportunities, or shut them down? Whether Turkey, Uber, whatever.”

Ms Kroes told the FT that consumers want convenience as well as protection.

“My position is no new Berlin Walls: we cannot simply block new business models and opportunities in Europe,” the commissioner said.

“This is not about one company. This debate is about whether Europe will dare to be open to the opportunities of technology.”

Countries that do well in the world economy don’t necessarily always have the best natural resources or the most talented people. Rather, the winners are frequently those who have been more willing to seize new possibilities, and quicker to place themselves in the position to benefit from them. Often that has been America. Even though we have our own Uber troubles here, we seem better placed to seize the opportunities Ms. Kroes is referring to than countries with a more defensive approach to the accelerating pace of technological change. But for Germany as for the U.S., the way forward in the new economic world that technology is creating is to embrace it, risks and all—not huddle in a protectionist stance while other countries pass you by.

Features Icon
show comments
  • FriendlyGoat

    Technology is not a reason to:

    1) Cause the underwriters of personal car insurance to up-price it for everyone in order to spread around the risks associated with car-for-hire freelancers operating mostly on personal policies.

    2) Cause traditional cabs to go the way of pay phones in booths. The fact is, not everyone is going to have a smart phone. Not everyone can access Uber and Lyft. Yes, yes, we know the wealthy want this so they can separate themselves from the masses—-and society DOES NOT have to bow to it. Citizens should be voting on this controversy rather than leaving it to regulators and courts.

    • rheddles

      Citizens are voting on this every time they call Uber instead of a cab. Let the voluntary market decide instead of regulators, courts or a tyrannic majority who seek to impose their will through coercion..

      • FriendlyGoat

        You’re asking for only the Uber customers to “vote” on whether they want the governments to keep traditional taxicabs in the picture. That’s a little like asking only dog owners to vote on whether they want a municipality to maintain an animal ordinance.

        • rheddles

          You still don’t get it.The governments didn’t put the traditional taxis in the picture and they shouldn’t be involved in keeping them in the picture. If the taxis are providing a service people want to buy, they will stay in the picture. If they aren’t they should disappear, regardless of what the government wants. Your comparison to dog owners is a complete non-sequitor. There is no legal issue at stake here, just economic. And the market does a better job of allocating resources and deciding which technologies should be adopted than does government.

          • FriendlyGoat

            CITIZENS as a whole may prefer a viable regulated taxi service to a smart-phone site with freelancers, just as CITIZENS prefer zoning laws and regulations on the size and location of signage—whether certain businesses might lobby for no rules or not. As much as you want to believe that the “business community” runs everything, it may not necessarily be true.

            Taxis are not far from being regulated utilities. The phone, gas, electric and water companies are not free to serve—-or not serve—certain customers at their discretion. Nor are upstart competitors to those services completely free to disrupt local markets which were monopolized at citizen will.

            Uber MAY win this thing most places. And it MAY hit some residents who just say “no”. I think there will be some elections—-once people figure out that cherry-picking of the best fares by Uber drivers will kill their cab services.

          • rheddles

            As a member of the “business community” I know that it runs nothing. Consumers run everything. And that’s what you don’t understand, the voluntary nature of business. No one can be made to buy my product, And if they don’t I stop making it. But you prefer coercion. That’s why you like elections. They take away the creative destruction of voluntary transactions and replace it with the one size fits all tyranny of the mob that you want to manipulate to your ends.

          • FriendlyGoat

            All I’m saying is that majorities in some cities, states, or countries, may like the taxi service they have and will stand up to say they don’t want it run out of business by something designed to only serve wealthy smart phone owners.

            As for your argument that elections equal coercion, you may have a point.
            MOST of the people agree murder shall be illegal—-even though some libertarians might argue the point.

          • rheddles

            Missed the Federalist Papers, eh?

          • Tom

            Goat, you seem to be under the misapprehension that only the wealthy own smartphones. I can assure, you, sir, that this is not the case.
            And also, if only a bare majority of the people use uber, there’s still a massive market for taxis. They will not be “run out of business.”

  • Boritz

    Why don’t they form an Ubersteuerministerium to collect tax on each ride. &nbspThat would bring in a lot more than $328,225.

  • ShadrachSmith

    The existing rent-seekers are strong in this issue. It takes a political victory for Uber to win. That’s why Uber hired David Plouffe, the former campaign manager for President Obama.

    Interesting hire, since Union politicos are Uber’s primary obstacle 🙂

    • rheddles

      Uber outta Deutschland?

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service