Uber? Should Taiwan allow Uber to operate?


#61

I know I’ve told you this before, but you really need to read Moldbug and some of his disciples (including Nick Land’s notion of “exit”). I think you’d really find it very interesting. Also, have you read Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age? I think you’d like that also.


#62

With titles like The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism and Jipi and the Paranoid Chip, who can resist? :slight_smile:


#63

I did have a look at his blog a while back, but didn’t really get into it. He has a meandering writing style that never seems to get to the point, churning out entire paragraphs which could have been condensed into a sentence or two, or (worse) which seem to just drift off into the weeds without ever making a point at all. The blog itself is poorly-structured and the articles themselves have too many distracting hyperlinks. I get the impression that he lacks confidence in his ideas and feels he has to talk around them in big circles, in order to not frighten off too many potential readers.

I’ll have a look at Stephenson’s books though. I like SciFi.


#64


The government establishes a reward system to encourage tip-offs about illegal drivers, just like with illegal immigrants. How does Uber respond?

As part of the promotion, Uber is offering a NT$10,000 (US$313) coupon to clients who post a selfie with an Uber driver on Facebook and a hashtag of a specified Uber message between yesterday and Friday next week.

Meanwhile…

Uber has been fined a total of NT$66.05 million as of Friday for 465 violations, and its drivers have been fined a total of NT$20.028 million, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said.


#65

Well, somebody’s making a lot of money. And it clearly isn’t Uber. Or the drivers. Or indeed the consumer.

Taiwan up!


#66

PUber are a bunch of w$&Kers that thumb their nose at the laws of this land.

Pay up uber cos you are not going to win this one. They are not even pretending to give face it’s quite remarkable. Bull in a china shop.

Obviously a few million dollars is nothing to a company that spent 1 billion in china and then pulled out (but got market share from investment in didi). They are monopolists st heart otherwise the economics doesn’t work.

Anyway the legislature should just raise the fines and get some revenue for government instead of taxing our legal activities.

Also don’t think they are actually interested in employing people.
They are already switching to driverless cars in some areas overseas. Their stated aim is to get rid of their largest expense , drivers. At the moment all they want to is gain more recognition and user base so they don’t mind to eat the losses.


#67

[quote=“Brianjones, post:66, topic:154722, full:true”]
PUber are a bunch of w$&Kers that thumb their nose at the laws of this land. [/quote]
Unlike, say, people who recycle mouldy rice as ‘organic’, or who dump industrial waste into rivers and just keep paying the (minuscule) fines because it’s cheaper than upgrading their factory?

Oh, but wait, they’re locals, and they’re creating jobs. So that’s all right then.

Absolutely nothing wrong with thumbing your nose at stupid laws. Sometimes it’s only the rich and the powerful who can afford to do so. Ever heard of the Magna Carta?

The law is not the arbiter of what is desirable or good. Its only purpose is to maintain social order. Sometimes it does that by enforcing injustice.

Every company wants to dominate the market. It doesn’t mean they actually ever will. In any case, Uber and taxis are different types of business. I know they look superficially similar, but they have a fundamentally different intent and target different markets. Grab (Asian version of Uber) is massively popular in Manila, but the taxis haven’t gone anywhere. All that’s happened is that they’ve stopped behaving like assholes.

Wait, you’re a taxi driver?

Driverless cars are a logical impossibility, even if they appear to be technological possible. The nature of roads and cars is that accidents are built into the driving protocols. Once the death rate gets high enough people will start doing that ‘smash the machines!’ thing. However, even assuming this is true, so what? Are they not still providing a useful service? Do you object to combine harvesters on the basis they they put 1000 scythe-wielders out of work?


#68

What I object to is Uber getting a free pass for obviously illegal activities AND their lack of welfare contributions just cos their ‘cool internetty Silicon Valley something or other’.
They will take the profit but not contribute anything.


#69

So the only way to “contribute” is letting yourself be extorted by the government? What about providing a useful service to the nation’s citizens, and providing competition to the binlang-chewing, cigarette-smoking cab drivers so they’re forced to improve their service?


#70

“Uber has been fined a total of NT$66.05 million as of Friday for 465 violations, and its drivers have been fined a total of NT$20.028 million, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said.”

Doesn’t seem free to me.


#71

[quote=“Brianjones, post:68, topic:154722, full:true”]
obviously illegal activities[/quote]
Uber are not doing anything illegal. You might argue that the drivers are, but the law is hopelessly ill-defined.

It’s not against the law to arrange a ride with someone you don’t know.
It’s not against the law to give that person ‘gas money’.
It’s not against the law to make such an arrangement over the internet.
So why does it suddenly become a crime if you do it ten times a day?

The law is an ass, and Uber are merely pointing this out.

So you’re asserting that

(a) Uber are not doing anything socially useful. Have you polled their customers?

and (b) not paying taxes. Have you checked with the IRS? We’ve done this bit already: they’re a US-registered company and therefore pay taxes in the US. If you don’t like that, and I agree it’s kinda silly, take it up with the people who negotiate tax treaties.


#72

They owe 100s millions NTD in fines, if it’s not illegal why are they being fined 100s of millions of NT?

They also need to pay tax in Taiwan on payments received from Taiwanese customers in Taiwan, just like any other business operator. The law is not ambiguous about this. Try arguing this in a Taiwan court, you will be fined and if you refuse to pay the fines and comply you will be deported or imprisoned as an individual. If a local business they will add on more punitive fines and eventually shut you down.

They also need to pay labour and health insurance for their employees (according to law something like >14 hours per week if I recall correctly). They shouldn’t pass these costs on to us residents of Taiwan.

No freeloading should be allowed. I don’t care if they are in the business of giving people cheap bananas on Sundays. Pay up like everybody else!!!


#73

So on the one hand, the law doesn’t prohibit Uber’s business model, and on the other hand, the law is an ass because it prohibits Uber’s business model? I’m so confused! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Without reference to the Highway Act or any other laws in Taiwan, there is a clear theoretical argument against your “how does it become illegal” standpoint.

Let’s say you rent a house. You want to sublet for a month while you’re away. You have the landlord’s permission. Everything is cool. You’re just a tenant becoming a temporary landlord. You are not running a hotel and are not liable for business income tax or tourism tax if it exists in your jurisdiction, nor are you required to post a fire evacuation plan and so on.

The neighborhood stays the same.

Now let’s say you “sublet” individual rooms in the house for periods as short as one day at a time, or hey why not one hour at a time? :howyoudoin: And you advertise with a website that describes your activity as “room sharing”. You ask cust-- oops, “tenants” to post reviews of your service on travel websites, and so on.

The neighbors notice and realize your house has become a hotel. (I’m using the word interchangeably with guesthouse.) Who approved it? When was the public consultation? Why should other hotels be expected to follow the fire code, insurance requirements etc. if they can just pretend they’re not hotels?

The neighborhood may or may not want the house to be a hotel. Some people will benefit, and some will lose. There are good arguments on both sides. But arguments like “it’s not a hotel, it’s not a business, and it’s not illegal” are all a bit of a stretch.

Expecting any society not to want such things regulated is kind of Sisyphean, if you think about it. :2cents:


#75

It seems to me there is no law that prohibits Uber from matching customers to drivers. The reason is simple: there is no law that describes any such thing, and a fundamental tenet of law is “that which is not prohibited is allowed”. The government are simply stretching existing laws like bubblegum because they don’t like Uber. The law is an ass because this shouldn’t even be possible.

I’m only guessing what’s happening here, but I would imagine Uber realises it’s cheaper to just pay the fines than to go to a Taiwanese court, which - if precedent is reliable - will be heavily biased and make lots of illogical arguments to justify their prejudices. Bear in mind that Taiwanese laws are written in even more impenetrable language than most, precisely so that they can be manipulated.

Your example is interesting in that it illustrates how utterly ridiculous laws can get. There actually is no difference between a house with guests going in and out, and a house with ordinary occupants going in and out. There are still the same number of people in the house because it only has a certain number of rooms. There are still the same number of comings and goings because, well, human behavior. Tourists (say) will have roughly the same occupancy pattern as someone living there and going to work 9 til 5. Airbnb pretty much proves the point.

The only problem arises when you sell hourly rates, such that, um, there are more comings than goings. However, we would assume that’s covered by other laws, unrelated to house-occupancy laws: say, noise abatement or public nuisance. Or, if you alter the number of rooms and/or cram in too many people, laws about maximum occupancy or planning would kick in. A hotel should follow a fire code not because it’s a hotel, but because the design of the building (many rooms with limited access) is a fire risk.

There is IMO no need to draw a distinction between hotels and residences.

Oh, but hotels should pay business taxes, while individuals pay income tax?

There’s no “should” here. It’s just traditional that things are arranged like that. As I said earlier, there are a dozen different ways you could get businesses (or individuals) to pay for the services they use.

My whole point is that the nature of modern business is becoming so complicated that the law should just accept the fact, and rearrange itself to suit, rather than prohibiting businesses it doesn’t know how to deal with.

I remember reading somewhere about a social scientist doing research on development - as in, why some countries develop faster than others. He concluded that the main impediment to social progress is lawyers.


#76

Seeing as how uber lost 800 million USD last quarter, with losing 2.2 billion USD in the first nine months of this year, I don’t see know it can actually survive. So the free market may solve this problem when uber goes out of business.


#77

This is an extremely important future market, and Uber is the big dog. It doesn’t matter that they’re losing money right now.

Also “free market” made me chuckle.


#78

Yeah, Chinese legalese is soo impenetrable, unlike English legalese, with its champerty and counter-prestations and mutatis mutandis and all that! :stuck_out_tongue:

Can you penetrate this?

Highway Act Art. 56 Par. 1

經營計程車客運服務業,應向所在地之公路主管機關申請核准,其應具備資格、申請程序、核准籌備與廢止核准籌備之要件、業務範圍、營運監督、服務費收取、車輛標識、營運應遵守事項與對計程車客運服務業之限制、禁止事項及其違反之糾正、限期改善、限期停止其繼續接受委託或廢止其營業執照之條件等事項之辦法,由交通部定之

The official translation (last updated in 2013) is based on the 1984 version, not the 2002 version. (It also splits Par. 2 into two paragraphs, sheesh.) However, the main point is still the same.

A taxicab transportation business should be ratified by highway authorities of the current location, under regulations provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

Iow, the MOTC has the authority to decide what’s kosher.

The two subparaphs of Art. 2 of the 計程車客運服務業申請核准經營辦法 are, shall we say, a little tough. I wouldn’t call them impenetrable though.

本辦法所稱派遣,係指接受消費者提出之乘車需求後,以下列方式之一提供計程車客運業及其駕駛人服務並收取費用之營運方式:
一、指派消費者搭車所在地同一營業區域內特定計程車前往載客。
二、指派一輛以上計程車予消費者選擇後前往載客。

I’m not aware of an official translation, so here’s an unofficial one:

Dispatching, in this regulation, means the acceptance of a consumer who has put forth a vehicle riding request, providing a taxicab business and its driver service and accepting fees in one of the following ways:

  1. Designating a taxi to carry a passenger within the same business area as the location in which the assigning consumer takes the vehicle.
  2. Assigning one or more taxis to carry consumer(s) who have chosen to be carried as passenger(s).

Serious criticism of this translation is welcome.

Can you explain how “matching” passengers with drivers differs from “assigning” or “designating” as mentioned in the 辦法? Of course you can. And the government can explain how it doesn’t differ. And the administrative courts can decide who’s right. That’s how the law works.

The only problem arises when you sell hourly rates, such that, um, there are more comings than goings. However, we would assume that’s covered by other laws, unrelated to house-occupancy laws: say, noise abatement or public nuisance. Or, if you alter the number of rooms and/or cram in too many people, laws about maximum occupancy or planning would kick in.

Some people would assume a tree falling makes no sound. Others would take preventative measures against the nuisance and even the danger of falling trees. Maybe the resulting tree management 辦法 is stupid, or maybe not. We could argue about this for a long time, but we probably both have better things to do.

I remember reading somewhere about a social scientist doing research on development - as in, why some countries develop faster than others. He concluded that the main impediment to social progress is lawyers.

I’d be interested in reading that. :slight_smile:


#79

There’s sure to be a legal society somewhere who have done extensive research and concluded that social scientists are holding up development and responsible for most of the ills of society. During the Soviet Union period or Cambodia in the 70s I think they’d have a point. :).

Oh and that legal fees need to be Increased which results in higher win rate…for the lawyers.

What Uber is doing , just like Amazon and Facebook, is trying to great enough market in each country to benefit from the network effect and scaling.

Once they get to a certain size, it becomes even more advantageous for new customers to join as people they know are already using it and they have a wide network, meanwhile their costs reduce due to scaling.

Importantly, it makes it difficult for OTHER ride sharing companies to achieve this scaling and networking effect. It’s actually a classic monopoly power play. Since the company has deep pockets from Wall Street and Silicon Valley investors they are hard to beat. They actively discourage local competition by loss leaders for years in some cases. That’s actually illegal in some areas like groceries or telecommunications in some countries but it seems the transportation industry is relatively lightly regulated.

They do not intend to subsidize for ever and as well known they will profit and often outsized profits when the opportunity presents it. Now they are also squeezing their drivers with 30% commissions. Their ultimate aim and only way to profit long term most likely is automation.

Personally I have nothing against ride sharing but I’d hate to see Uber control the market in almost every country we need to watch out for that. Some car companies have invested in Uber but hopefully some will invest in other ride sharing companies or set up their own brand fleets.

One last point…automation of taxi services (and logistics) is a really big deal which is going to affect a lot of older people’s liveliehoods. In Taipei alone there are 30,000 taxis.
If it comes down to it I’d rather just support older people in Taiwan who need the money than some faceless Silicon Valley shareholder. I don’t even mind paying a bit more for this (as long as the taxis are clean and safe).


#80

I thought you might have liked his alternative historical analysis and prescriptions for reordering politics and civic life. One many’s treasure is another man’s trash, I suppose.


#81

I wonder how many people here talking about illegal this or illegal that gaming the system needing to be hunted down and punished by law would be fine with doing the same to illegal immigrants.