Uber or not to Uber…

I oppose redundant monopolies because, like over-regulation, they increase prices, and tend to deliver poor value for money, destroy entrepreneurship, and slow innovation. Monopolies do well in smaller domestic markets like Finland where their impact is also so much stronger. Bigger markets make competition easier because there are more potential customers to support more producers of goods and services. In small countries dominant players can establish themselves and keep out competition because it is just harder for newcomers to get a sufficiently large foothold.
The taxi business is a great example of a redundant monopoly in Finland, and in most other countries.
This week I have traveled three times in a taxi paying out a total of €165 for 3 business trips from Kerava to Helsinki and 2 trips to and from the airport. The first driver drove well over the speed limit on the motorway and in town. He also damaged another car in Helsinki with careless driving. The second taxi drove through 3 red lights and broke the speed limits most of the way. He had his seat pushed back so I had little leg room and the air in the car smelt of sweat; not mine. The third driver was courteous, opened the door for me, and on the way explained that as a rented Estonian driver, he worked long hours with very low pay. I still had to fork out €46, for a trip that costs €30 with Uber. I have used them once to the airport and the service, the car and the driver were fine.
The taxi lobby claim that the present regulation ensure safe drivers and sufficient numbers of vehicles at competitive prices. They naturally oppose Uber, claiming that they are unsafe, they do not pay their taxes and that they use untrained or non-licensed drivers.
All drivers in Finland are subject to the driving exams to secure a license. I drive my wife, children, other family members, friends and colleagues without killing them any more than a taxi driver. I also use my GPS equipment that most taxis use today.
The examples above show that claims and reality are miles apart and everybody knows this. When do taxis pull up at pedestrian crossings to allow folks to cross the road? You do not have to memorize road maps to be a taxi driver. And do you really believe all the “factual” claims put out by these lobby groups – taxis, banks, retail shops, pension and insurance companies, construction companies, etc…
Drivers who work for Uber must pay their taxes – and it is Uber’s responsibility to see that the partners obey all tax laws. I hope that Uber takes this seriously like any other service providers. We will soon hear more about this from the various legal complaints. However, at the moment, Finnish taxi owners still have a big tax advantage over us ordinary folk:
”Autoveroa alennetaan enintään 4 800 eurolla autosta, joka Suomessa ensi kertaa rekisteröitäessä merkitään käytettäväksi taksiliikennelain(217/2007) 2 §:n 1 kohdassa…” lähde:Trafi
Now, I am no big fan of big rich global companies like Uber, if they bully governments and democracies, but on the other hand we must accept that monopolies and regulations that overly protect businesses from open and fair competition are not good for strong economic activity and employment. If Uber and other new travel providers can cut my travel costs, then I see no reason why I should pay monopoly prices for a service that is as perfectly safe and available. Drivers can chose to work for the present taxi owners or work as entrepreneurs for Uber. I see no reason why politicians and lawyers should restrict drivers and travelers freedom of choice, especially if I, the customer, can see a huge reduction in cost.

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