In praise of Uber

By Tom Quiner

home-hero-10-1440-900Millennium Park was a mob scene.

My two sons and I were at the Chicago Jazz Festival soaking up some great music over the weekend. This is the second year in a row we made the trek to Chicago.

The Festival takes place at gorgeous Millennium Park in the breathtaking Jay Pritzker Pavilion. As Friday night’s music wrapped, we decided we needed more jazz and decided to go the Jazz Showcase.

Normally, this would necessitate a cab, as we had our car parked way back at our hotel.

My son told me not to worry.

“Watch this,” he said. He pulled out his iPhone.

Tap, tap, tap went his fingers.

He said, “our ride will be here in a minute.”

We waded through a mass of humanity to Michigan Avenue where our car immediately pulled up.

Welcome to the world of Uber.

We got into a nice, fairly late model car that was spotless inside and out. Our driver was from Pakistan. He was professional, articulate, and friendly.

He told us he’s putting in 80 hours a week driving for Uber and loves it … and the money he’s making.

He got us to our destination. We thanked him and left.

No money exchanged hands; it was all handled electronically on the app my son downloaded on his iPhone. Uber has his credit card on file and charges it according to the number of miles driven.

The Uber driver is paid electronically once a week.

Uber is another dramatic example of American ingenuity and innovation. It is categorized as a “ride-sharing” service that competes with cab companies. It’s all controlled by an app.

You tell Uber where you are and where you want to go.  The app shows where the nearest drivers are. A request is sent to the Uber driver. They can decide if they want to accept the job.

Once they do, the deal is done.

Here’s where things get interesting: you evaluate every driver on his/her performance. This is key, since jobs are offered first to the best drivers. If evaluations reach a level that indicates mediocrity or worse, the driver is dismissed.

So instead of relying on public licensing, Uber lets their customers do the job for them.

If you’ve ever traveled to New York City, you know that getting a cab can be dicey if it’s raining. In order to accommodate customers, Uber utilizes “surge pricing” in these conditions. You’re going to pay more, but at least you’re going to get a ride.

Capitalism at work!

Needless to say, cab companies hate them, but the public loves Uber. Even Democrats who love lots of government regulations and are suspicious of success, are being won over by Uber. In fact, Uber has just hired former Obama campaign manager, David Plouffe, to handle the challenging political hurdles that faces Uber in their quest to enter new markets.

Government regulations stand in their way. The techies who built Uber realize they need a brilliant political strategist to help them negotiate the maze of unionism, cronyism, and regulations that always try to stifle innovation and job creation.

Way to go Uber!


  1. Chillingworth on September 3, 2014 at 8:31 am

    On the radio news this morning, I heard that Kentucky may enact “emergency regulations” to deal with Uber. Uber sounds pretty great, but even if it weren’t, I would hate to live in a state in which “emergency regulations” were a thing.