June 24, 2016
By Jared Meyer
"I am not a great fan of Uber—you can quote me on that," declared Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders in August. The main reason he has "serious problems" with the ride-sharing service? It's "unregulated," he told Bloomberg. In this, if little else, Sanders finds himself in agreement with rival Hillary Clinton, who decried the "gig economy" in a major economic address around the same time last summer.
On the face of it, the sharing economy should make people of virtually all political stripes feel warm and fuzzy. Nearly any 21st century stump speech is going to be full of buzzwords—entrepreneurship, fairness, choice, opportunity, consumer empowerment, flexibility—that best describe this fast-growing commercial sector. The vast majority of people who have taken an Uber, shopped on Etsy, or found a place to stay through Airbnb enthusiastically embrace these new services which allow individual buyers and sellers to interact more easily and directly. Yet many sharing-economy companies have faced staunch political resistance.
Initially that hostility mostly came from state and municipal governments, at the behest of local special interests—legacy hotel and taxi companies chief among them—who slyly suggested that their new competition posed a threat to "public safety" by often operating outside of traditional regulatory frameworks. But as more people participated in the sharing economy, as consumers or as workers, cities and states reversed course and began implementing rules that were friendlier to the newcomers, essentially caving to the reality already in place on the ground. It's hard to believe that Virginia was issuing cease-and-desist letters to Uber and Lyft only two years ago. Now the state has regulations, pushed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, that are generally welcoming to the ride-sharing industry.
Read the full article at Economics 21: Why Hillary Hates Uber