Uber in France: A Classic Case of Government versus Market – Loser, the Public

Written by: C. Dallas Menger


The true nature of the free market is voluntary transactions between two parities. If you choose Target over Wal-Mart, then Wal-Mart must improve its marketing or offer better deals to get you to come to its stores.

The true nature of government is force, typically violent force. Don’t believe me, stop paying your taxes. Eventually, men with guns will come take your stuff and possibly put you in a cage. What the government does with your money is entire up to them.

That’s why it was no surprise this week that violence broke out in France against Uber drivers. You see non –Uber cab drivers, while they don’t work directly for the government, have an indirect relationship with the government. The government uses extremely expensive licensing to limit the number of cab drivers, thus creating a monopoly of sorts. The bottle neck in supply of cabs artificially drives up the cost and lowers the availability of cabs for the public. The government and the cab drivers make out at the expense of the public.

Finally, Uber comes along and the public has an option; the government-protected-monopoly cabs or the Uber drivers. The public was choosing the Uber drivers so often and cab driver profits were being cut so deeply that something “had to be done”. The French government banned Uber. One problem, the nature of Uber makes that law almost impossible to enforce. There is no discernible difference between an Uber customer and someone getting a ride from a friend until the car drives up to the airport sidewalk. (Uber decorates the driver’s car for marketing and identification purposes).

Keep in mind, no violence was needed in order for the public to choose Uber. There were no complaints from Uber’s customers. These were voluntary transaction that benefited the driver, the passenger, and the company. If Uber sucked or the cab drivers offered a better product the customers were free to jump in the cabs. The unenforceable law was passed anyway.

Frustrated by the lack of enforcement, the cab drivers did what thugs and bullies always do. They resorted to violence. They put the public at risk. Now, the government of France promises to crack down on the…violent cabbies… Nope it’s the Uber drivers.

So, what did we learn today? One of the reasons, we are told; that we need our government overlords is to protect us from violence, to keep us safe. In this case, what’s more important to the French government, protecting the public from violence or protecting its licensing revenue? You decide…