Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
23 September 2017, 20:51
The Mayor Who Likes To Say No and Transport for London have decreed that the taxi firm Uber has delighted us enough
Teenagers all over London are coming to terms with riding the bus or walking back from their nightly shenanigans.
Grown-ups are quite put out too. As I write this, 531,420 people have registered their dismay that their favourite way of getting around will be denied them in a few weeks’ time.
Its 40,000 drivers are none too pleased either.
TfL announced that Uber was not “fit and proper” to hold a licence. It accused the company of ”a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”.
The regulator is unsatisfied with the way it reports criminal offences, its handling of drivers’ background checks and the use of software allegedly designed to evade regulators.
It is also accused of adding to London's congestion, ruining the business model of the existing taxi services and treating its drivers poorly.
London has consulted its ethical moral compass and found Uber wanting.
This seems strange, because for every case against Uber, there are a myriad of organisations that are at least as guilty, if not more so, and they seem to be immune to regulation or retribution of any meaningful kind whatsoever.
If the authorities plan on putting out of business companies that mishandle criminal offences, then we will have to go back to hiding our money under the mattress because there wouldn’t be a single bank left operating in the country.
I challenge you to name one bank that has not had billions of pounds of fines for laundering money for drug cartels or ripping off their customers or rigging the game for their own benefit.
They all have form in that regard and they paid billions in fines, which hurt them not one bit, and just carried on regardless. They are still at it now.
If we’re suddenly concerned about disruptive technologies, then Amazon should be put out of business for decimating the high street.
The public used to buy their stuff in shops but now they use physical bricks and mortar outlets to finger the goods they are thinking of buying, then return home to purchase them from Amazon because they’ll save ten pence.
If it is extra traffic we are troubled by, what about all those delivery vans bringing all that stuff we bought to our door?
If we were to apply the same standards that are being used to evaluate Uber, it would mean Amazon should be run out of business twice.
And if we’re uneasy about background checks, then there is a certain organised religion that should have been put out of operation years ago.
How much evidence do you need? Ten thousand abused children? Twenty thousand?
How many is too many? Despite the abuse and then the cover-ups, not only has the church survived pretty much unscathed, it has kept its place at the moral high table and retained its status as a charity.
Can you imagine if a world-wide burger chain had been as guilty of systematic child abuse? There wouldn't be a branch left in any town on earth.
Uber stands accused of mistreating its staff. If we’re distressed about that, we will have to examine every business in the country.
Most companies treat their staff as badly as they think they can get away with.
How many go out of their way to treat their workers better than they think they have to for their own benefit?
If companies treated their staff better, wages would not have stagnated in real terms since the 1980's and the spoils of the workers’ efforts would not have been divided up among the top 1%.
If it is public safety that we are bothered about, then why have we not banned from our shores the car manufacturers that lied about how polluting their vehicles were in order to make more money?
And if it is swerving regulations that troubles us, we will have to shut ourselves down.
We are pre-eminent in that – the whole of the City of London is geared to saving tax for billionaires and multinationals – practically every company you have ever heard of is guilty of some form of tax evasion, despite their chorus of protestations of innocence.
We have heard it so many times we can say it along with them: “we pay all the relevant tax that is applicable according to the regulations in every area in which we operate.”
Sure they do.
If everything in Britain was assessed by the criteria that Uber has been judged by, the whole country would have a closed sign on its door.
Just one thing though - it won't stand.
Uber will continue because there are too many people who like using it and who can’t afford the alternative, the black cab, which is a luxury product.
40,000 people won't get chucked on the dole because of this - it's too many.
What would they do for a living?
The fact that the company's ethos is to undercut the competition and put them out of business is not unique.
What company on earth doesn’t want a monopoly?
Uber found a huge gap in the market, just like Apple and Google and Starbucks and Pret a Manger did before them.
They have all hurt existing businesses that catered to the market they entered into.
It doesn’t mean that they should be stopped.
That’s survival of the fittest. That's life. Things change.
It’s not fair but then what is?