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No, Virginia, There Is No Moral Right to Throttle Uber

Young businesswoman driving in taxi, she using tablet computer aUber car ride service has a problem. The problem is not that the company lacks customers eager to use its services or investors eager to finance it: Uber now operates in 70 cities, and recently it raised $1.2 billion from investors. Uber’s problem is that various state and local governments are seeking to throttle it.

As a recent example, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles demanded on June 5 that Uber (along with its competitor Lyft) halt operations in that state, on the grounds that the service is not in compliance with Virginia law regulating ride services. The DMV has already cited several drivers for working for Uber.

In response, Uber says it is “surprised and disappointed by the DMV’s actions” and that it “will operate as usual” and continue with its “commitment to providing Virginians access to safe, affordable and reliable rides.” The company also points out that the its requirement for insurance and background checks “far exceeds the requirements set by the Virginia DMV.”

All uberX rides in Virginia are insured up to $1,000,000, nearly 300% more than the $350,000 required of for-hire drivers by the Virginia DMV. While the Virginia DMV does not require that all for-hire drivers pass background checks, all drivers on the Uber platform pass rigorous background checks at the county, state and federal level before they are ever allowed access to the technology.

Clearly the action by the DMV serves, not to keep consumers safe, but to protect Uber’s established competitors from free-market competition.

Uber’s owners have a moral right to operate their business as they judge best, and Uber’s customers have a moral right to do business with the company if they wish. Virginia government should stop violating the rights of Uber and its customers and start protecting them.

If you’re a Virginian, visit Uber’s recent post on the matter, where you’ll find quick and easy means to contact your representatives and relevant leaders and ask them, as Uber puts it, “to stand up for you and not the status quo.” And whether you’re a Virginian or not, support Uber and similar businesses whenever you can. They need our help so that they can provide us with excellent services while chipping away at coercive, state-granted monopolies. That’s a win for everyone—except statists.

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