The violent protests of French taxi drivers on Thursday, organized against the expanding presence of ride-sharing company Uber’s low-cost UberPop offering, exhibited again what has long been apparent: the country is not adapting easily to the new sharing economy. The AP:
French taxi drivers smashed up livery cars, set tires ablaze and blocked traffic across the country on Thursday in a nationwide strike aimed at Uber after weeks of rising, sometimes violent tensions over the U.S. ride-hailing company. […]
Despite repeated rulings against the low-cost UberPop service, its drivers continue to ply French roads and the American ride-hailing company is actively recruiting drivers and passengers alike. Uber claims to have a total of 400,000 customers a month in France.
A spokesman for Uber encapsulated the dispute in brief, saying “[t]here are people who are willing to do anything to stop any competition … [w]e are only the symptom of a badly organized market.” The over-regulation of the French economy, guided loosely by anti-market precepts, ultimately undermines the stability it aims to provide workers. That Uber provides an opportunity for the unemployed or underemployed to earn extra income—not to mention that it suits the preferences of 400,000 monthly riders—ought to be enough reason for the government to reexamine its stance (French unemployment currently stands around 10.5 percent).
The advent of the information economy will not be a cure-all for what ails the French economy, but clinging to regulations that preserve a system so clearly riddled with inefficiencies is no way to propel a society forward. Even France should understand that.