Don Wilson: “Über for the Mensch”

I am a wanderer. It seems I can not long sit still. My greatest encouragement is that there is no path behind me.

“We kings ourselves have become false, draped and disguised with the old faded pomp of our ancestors, show-pieces for the stupidest, the craftiest, and whosoever at present traffics for power.”

– Nietszche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

SMLXL

 

There is a morbid pathology in the mind of government and its acquiescent supporters. Carpooling for money is illegal. A dysfunctional taxi monopoly is fiercely and explicitly guarded by law. Not only are these things permitted, but they pass with little protest – or worse, garner support from otherwise intelligent-sounding persons.

Picture this: you live in New Westminster and commute to Abbotsford. You post a message on Craigslist, or at your office on a corkboard: “Carpool from New West to Abbotsford for $10”. You get a positive response. Another worker is going the same way and is willing to throw in $10 to help with costs. This whole interaction is completely mundane and beneficial. Yet the authoritarian attitude is so pervasive that the right to violently prevent you from completing this transaction is not just proposed, but simply assumed.

Services like Über and Lyft promise seismic shifts in the transportation of people and goods. We can no longer permit incipient authoritarians to root into the most trivial but fundamental aspects of our lives and halt the progress of technology and innovation.

The perverse mind-set of the passive-aggressive authoritarian gives us aberrant anachronisms like the Passenger Transportation Board, the gatekeeper for all commercial transportation in the province. The board fixes prices and even determines if a business is allowed to operate or not, such as in February of this year when a bus company was prevented from operating a bus line between Victoria and Nanaimo.

I picture this board as part demented soothsayer and part Cerberus, the mythical, multi-headed dog that guards Hades and prevents the dead from escaping the underworld. I imagine their price-fixing meetings: the bunch of them surrounding a crystal ball, cinched up tight in leather restraints; red, swollen faces hanging upside down, whispering odes to David Carradine into a top hat, from which I can only presume the correct price or permissible bus service emerges. How else could they divine the “correctness” of a price for a bus line, or the existence of a new service, in the infinitely complicated marketplace that is always unfolding into the future. How else could they know how to properly decide what is right and what is wrong on our behalf?

The appropriate public policy on these matters is “mind your own business.” If you don’t want to take an Über, don’t. If carpooling is too dangerous for you, travel by some other means. Otherwise, leave the rest of us alone.