Uber means Freedom in English, Tamizh, Sanskrit…

….The fare wasn’t set by
distance or time, but by zones, which encouraged the drivers to drive
fast…….the not-unpleasant sensation
of feeling your cheeks ripple with G-forces as he shot down the Dupont
Circle tunnel like someone testing a rocket car on the Salt Flats of
Utah…..the occasional moments of weightlessness when you hit a bump….you were doing 50 mph in a car whose shock absorbers
didn’t, and whose brakes probably wouldn’t…..

When we were younger, we would just rent a car at the airport…one way if necessary. We remember driving from Boise, Idaho to Portland, Oregon in a Hertzmobile (after having missed a flight…long story) and getting stuck in the Columbia River Gorge near Multonomah Falls at mid-night, in the middle of torrential winter rains- we did not realize that there are no gas stations in the Gorge!!! Our friend had to execute a dramatic mid-night rescue plan using an old-fashioned funnel and bucket.

Of course Uber does not allow you to travel from Boise to Portland (not yet), though we are sure some freckle-faced teenager is writing an app for that as we speak. In the mean-time, as James Lileks explains –  there is a new sense of freedom in Los Angeles and New York….but unfortunately, not in Berlin (North Korea)… erm German Democratic Republic….The mobile taxi app Uber has been banned in Berlin by the city’s State Department of Civil and Regulatory Affairs.….the authority said it had banned the app on passenger safety grounds
and threatened the firm with a 25,000 euro (£20,000) fine for ignoring
the order
. Uber….Zindaaaaaaaaabad.


Many people on the right have embraced Uber, the company that lets you
call a ride from your smartphone instead of standing on the corner with
your hand up looking like a statue of Lenin leading the proletariat to
the Future, or maybe to that tapas place downtown.

This confuses people
who regard conservatives as dumb apes who poke Shiny New Things with a
stick and screech in alarm. How can they support Uber? It’s a Cool
Thing, and they’re all middle-aged dorks in polyester plaid shorts and
black socks with sandals who like to “get down” to bands that sing about
pickup trucks, or they’re pale evil men who wear three-piece suits to
bed and drift off to sleep fantasizing that they’re slapping the
birth-control pills out of the hands of poor women. 

Uber is good, Uber
is an app, for heaven’s sake — how can these cretins possibly be on its
side? It’s like finding that all the kale in the country is fertilized
by Koch products.

Jalopnik, a popular site about cars, explains the reason with a willfully stupid Internet coinage: Uber Is the New GOP Darling Because Freedom.

It helps if you imagine Stephen Colbert saying it, I suppose.
Freedom: the word is supposed to make you roll your eyes, just like
“liberty” — one of those things we’re supposedly losing Because
Liberals. What we’re usually protesting is our inability to be racist,
homophobic trolls who think the country started going downhill when the
Statue of Liberty wasn’t a white male holding up a rifle instead of a

The article says: “A recent (pro-Uber) petition launched on the GOP
site hits all the Republican talking points — ‘unions’, ‘strangling
regulations’ and of course ‘liberal government bureaucrats’ — as a way
to illustrate how big government and a unionized workforce are killing
our freedoms.”

Someone else’s convictions are always talking points.

As for Uber itself, well, let’s take a look at the wonderful world of
cars-for-hire. When I lived in D.C. in the 90s, I took a lot of cabs.
Now and then you’d get a spotless ride with a courteous older driver who
knew every street and alley. When I say “now and then” it was in the
sense of “now and then, there’s a presidential election.”

For the most part, the cabs had seats that felt like the thin
battered beds of a hot-sheet motel and a sweat-and-barf perma-funk that
made you roll down the windows in January. The fare wasn’t set by
distance or time, but by zones, which encouraged the drivers to drive

While this made for speedy trips, and the not-unpleasant sensation
of feeling your cheeks ripple with G-forces as he shot down the Dupont
Circle tunnel like someone testing a rocket car on the Salt Flats of
Utah, the occasional moments of weightlessness when you hit a bump
reminded you that you were doing 50 mph in a car whose shock absorbers
didn’t, and whose brakes probably wouldn’t.

When I moved back to Minneapolis I had no occasion to take the cab,
except for trips back from the airport. The cars weren’t exactly new;
when you looked at the fleet idling in the bays, it made you think,
“this is what Havana would look like if Castro took over in 1982.” The
drivers were usually unfamiliar with the city, which seems to violate
the Law of Cabbies, somehow. You sit in the back like a human Tom-Tom
unit, giving turn-by-turn directions. When you’re finally home, and it’s
time to settle, you get out a credit card — which causes the driver to
sigh, because he has to get out an imprint machine and rack up the card
like it’s the Four Seasons in 1962 and you’re paying with a Diner’s

On a trip to L.A. earlier this year I called a cab to get me to the
Minneapolis airport. I stood outside the house with a suitcase. I
watched the cab drive past; I ran after it waving my arms as if it was
the last helicopter out of Erbil. Once inside, I looked around for
anything long and sharp that might help squeegee off the cooties. The
driver took a route that always backs up at rush hour, and the meter
ticked away the escalating price. When we got to the airport I was
delighted to find the car had a credit-card reader, but it didn’t work.

From the L.A. hotel to the airport, I finally tried Uber. The dot on
my screen showed where the car was. When it arrived, the driver popped
the trunk and offered me water. What? Water? The most I ever expected
from a cab was a vinegar-soaked rag on a stick. The interior of the car
was pristine; I was offered my choice of music selection; I was stunned
to find there wasn’t a motorized shoe-shine unit under the seats and a
tanning lamp. With hesitation I engaged in conversation with the driver —
 the Cabbie Convo is the worst form of parachute journalism, and if
this guy was actually useful or fascinating I could never use it.

But I will, because it was. He had run a few franchise sandwich
shops, and they’d gone under. One died because the real-estate market
crashed and emptied out the neighborhood; the other suffered from the
marketing incompetence of the parent company, which soured the brand and
drove the franchise owners to penury and despair. Now he was doing
this. Did he want to do this? Eh, it’s a living.

At the end no money was exchanged. The app did that. No receipt was
required. The app did that. I was asked to rate the driver, and gave him
the best possible rating. Most excellent cab ride of my life — probably
because it wasn’t a cab at all. 

So that’s why conservatives like Uber! We can pretend it didn’t cost
anything, and can judge those who have failed in the marketplace and
been driven down the economic ladder. It has nothing to do with breaking
up a monopoly with a new idea, or getting around the burdensome rules
that prevent an entrepreneur from entering a locked-up market, or
letting a superior service force the old model to improve its game. (The
local cab company did come up with an app, and while it let you make a
reservation, it warned you that this wasn’t a guarantee a cab would
actually show up. Other than that, a straight-up Uber-killer.)

No, it can’t be about any of that. If the Right wants to free public
schools from their century-old model, it’s just about hating unions.
(Because Freedom.) If they object to the impact of the minimum wage,
it’s just about hating workers. (Because Freedom.) If they object to the
unsustainable drain of Social Security, it’s because they hate the old;
if they object to socialized medicine it’s because they hate the sick;
if they object to making nuns pay for late-term abortion it’s because
they hate women.

If they hate taxis and want an alternative, well, because Freedom.

Whoa! At least they got that one right.


Link (1): http://www.nationalreview.com

Link (2): http://www.bbc.com


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