"We Had To Haggle With The Taxi Industry On What The Signs Should Say."

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

How many government employees does it take to equal a cellphone app?

That’s the satirical question Blake Ross attempts to answer in a look at “longhauling” in Las Vegas. Noting that Uber has been forced to temporarily suspend operations in the city thanks to a federal judge, Mr. Ross points out that Uber’s in-house software, already famous for its “god mode”, can immediately determine whether its drivers are taking an unnecessarily long route between the airport and the Strip. Normal taxis have no such supervision, so steps have been taken:

I am blown away by the admirable tenacity of the Nevadan government. The complaint Word doc; the bad driver Excel spreadsheet; the Powerpoint airport sign—when it comes to Microsoft Office 2003, Nevada has tried it all.

As I’ve pointed out on my personal website, we live in a world where the federal government knows your call data records for the past ten years but seems mysteriously unable to say exactly how many police shootings there were in the United States last year. That’s government in action: able to drive a tank through a building full of kids because they don’t like the pastor of their church, unable to figure out how to make taxi drivers stay out of a tunnel.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Gtem Gtem on Dec 04, 2014

    Just got back from Vegas and noticed the most blatant taxi-lobby ripoff scheme ever: minivans have their middle back row seat blocked by a piece of foam (a center armrest of sorts) and it is outright illegal for three to sit in the back of a van in Vegas. All in the interests of passenger safety we were told. So our party of six people had to get 2 cabs everywhere we went. They're really grabbing at crumbs out there.

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    • Bball40dtw Bball40dtw on Dec 05, 2014

      @gtem Be careful what you wish for. You might end up getting beaten with baseball bats and buried in a cornfield by your own crew.

  • Waterview Waterview on Dec 04, 2014

    I'm usually first in line to protest any form of larger government or more regulation, but when it comes to the taxi business, I don't mind if LOCAL governments want to weigh in with some rules. The Uber model works well until something goes wrong. I'd like to know that there's some even minimal form of licensing and insurance for drivers. With Uber, it's a bit of a crapshoot.

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    • Greaseyknight Greaseyknight on Dec 05, 2014

      @ihatetrees In short, its a prime example of government regulation vs the free market. Perfect? Absolutely not. But Uber and Lyft are showing us what can happen when the free market is allowed to work, and consumers have more choices.

  • Xeranar Xeranar on Dec 04, 2014

    When you're done playing with the strawman government you've built I'll gladly respond. Frankly the simple answer is taxi drivers aren't regulated the same way and Uber's 'God Mode' for finding them abusing the system is counterintuitive if you're paying a flat fee never mind that it is the exact intrusion your argument so flatly states that they hate. Why is it ok if Gov Co. knows all this info but regular Gov doesn't? By the way, the NSA isn't nearly as ubiquitous as they seem never mind that the people who compile actual statistics rely on lower levels of government and that can be inaccurate at times. But please go about wanking angrily, I'll sit back and watch.

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    • Xeranar Xeranar on Dec 06, 2014

      @Lorenzo Your ignorance is not my problem, but thanks for the pointless ad hominem. To simplify for you, Taxi Drivers aren't regulated at the driver level to keep the trip shortest because they aren't controlled by the government in that way. Their employer would expect them to manage the routes appropriately. Following that, Uber who has used flat fees or limited fare charges so it is of limited value to maximize length of travel. Also since uber doesn't do street pickups their scheduling system means it is more effective to keep getting passengers out faster for more fares. You see how the argument falls apart or are you still going to claim ignorance to try and score points?

  • Clarence Clarence on Dec 04, 2014

    Is the tank line a reference to the Branch Davidian cult? Weird. If it wasn't for Timothy Cain and Sajeev, I wouldn't bother with this site anymore.

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    • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 06, 2014

      @Xeranar This is disappointing. Black-and-white (no pun intended) thinking is supposed to be the currency of the right, not of the left. It's fair to ask why beat cops are being used for tax enforcement against low income people in a minority community, when minor tax violations are usually handled with nasty letters and meetings with auditors instead of chokeholds. The fair point made by the (few reasonable) libertarians (as opposed to the wingnuts among them) is that this sort of law enforcement goes hand-in-hand with broken windows policing methods that are used to oppress targeted groups of people. The multitude of laws end up serving as an excuse to hassle people who are usually of color -- the bad laws are tools in the oppressors' tool kit. This specific issue arises because we have a bill of rights. Our system requires "probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion," which encourages the police to manufacture both of these in abundance. The law are used to further the agenda of a police force that lords over the public who they are supposed to serve -- the more laws that there are to violate, the more power that the enforcers have to enforce. On the other hand, Garner's race and social status certainly impacted the outcome. Let's say for the sake of argument that Eric Garner was a terrible tax cheat who deserved to be punished. If that's the case, then send a nice pack of revenue agents after him who can bury him in paperwork and misery just as they would a white-collar violator. Apparently, Garner wasn't deserving enough to deal with guys with suits and briefcases; he gets the rough treatment, instead. The right zingers who deny the possibility that racism exists ought to ask themselves why that is.