Uber Versus Houston

In April, Uber threatened to pull out of the Houston market if the city didn’t relax its rules governing the ridesharing company’s drivers. At the time, Mayor Turner said:

To tell the city of Houston you either give us what we want or we are goneā€¦ is not the way you play business in the fourth largest city in the country.

Apparently, the way you “play business” in Houston is to embrace whatever policies and regulations the city shoves down your throat. Apparently, “playing business” in Houston means groveling at the feet of city officials for permission to operate.

Uber refuses to play that game, and good for them.

According to the headline for the article cited, Turner also claimed that Uber was holding Houston at gunpoint. Either Turner is a master of sarcasm, or he is extremely dishonest.

If Uber refuses to abide by the city’s regulatory dictates and continues to operate, it will be subject to fines. And if those fines are not “voluntarily” paid, guess who shows up? Somebody with a gun.

In truth, the city is holding Uber at gunpoint. The city has imposed mandates on the company and if the company does not “cooperate,” the city will send someone with a gun to enforce its edicts. But Uber has refused to play by the city’s arbitrary rules.

Apparently, Turner thinks that the size of the Houston market is such that Uber will do virtually anything to continue operations. He is wrong. Uber is an innovator in more than ridesharing. It is also an innovator in standing up to the bullying tactics of government officials around the world.

Uber is standing on principle. And that is something to be admired.

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