Uber Against Racial Profiling

In my latest article in The Freeman, I look at another instance of the superiority of regulation by market forces to regulation by government. A slice:

Uber is regulated by market forces, and market forces regulate far more effectively than the DC taxi commission does.

Uber gets a cut of every fare, so the more fares it arranges, the more income it earns. Arranging more fares depends on building a reputation for getting cars to riders — all riders — quickly and reliably. Hence, Uber has a strong incentive to give its drivers the incentive to pick up every rider — black, white, or brown — right away.

It does that in two ways. First, it reduces its drivers’ reasons for racial profiling. Uber has each rider’s name, cell phone number, credit card information, and the time and route of the ride, so Uber riders are unlikely to rob drivers. Riders can’t skip out on a fare because Uber charges their credit cards, and since drivers aren’t paid in cash, they’re unattractive targets for criminals. And when an Uber driver drops off a rider in an out-of-the-way place, Uber immediately shows where the next closest fare is, so the driver is less likely to get stuck with a long, no-fare trip back to a busier area.

Second, using GPS information from users’ and drivers’ smartphones, Uber “sees” in real time when a driver drives past a would-be rider. “I didn’t see him” doesn’t work; Uber shows drivers where would-be riders are. And Uber fines its drivers for refusing fares. Uber’s regulation of racial profiling is thus comprehensive and immediate.

Here’s a beautiful instance of how market forces push people to pay attention to the well-being of others of all races. And it’s an instance of how modern technology and market incentives are making government regulations obsolete, if they were ever useful at all.

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