Uber? Should Taiwan allow Uber to operate?


#82

I might have done, but I couldn’t find it :slight_smile:

Can you recommend a particular blog post?

I think part of the reason I didn’t get it is that he makes a lot of reference to historical characters I’ve never heard of. I spent most of my history lessons at school trying to stay awake, which is a pity because I find history quite interesting now. I’m just rather ignorant about it.

I get the distinct whiff of racism from all this. Grab in the Philippines is perfectly OK because it’s owned by Malaysians. If it were run by Americans there would be howls of protest, no doubt about it.


#83

Actually, I can’t, because it’s a few years since I’ve read it. Probably something either to do with “exit” or “patchwork”. I wish I’d bookmarked some of the other sites I read also. I’m trying to think of the term they use. It’s not archeofuturism (that’s something else), but there’s a term they use that kind of eschews the current state of modernity and either looks to the past or the future. It’s also not steampunk. It’s something else, but I can’t think of it right now. I have a vague recollection that there is an architectural movement tied in to all of this. Anyway, it’s all reminiscent of the Neo-Victorian phyle of New Atlantis in The Diamond Age, who have one foot astride the past and the future, but not the present.

Have you looked into things such as charter cities, seasteading, etc.?

Oh yes, I can totally understand why people wouldn’t like Moldbug, especially his references to (by our standards) obscure writers and thinkers. I guess that’s kind of his point though, that there’s an enormous body of thought out there, but what we take as the entire universe of thought right now is only a very small subset of that.

As for people being fine or not fine with foreign owned corporations, I just wish people would get their positions straight, be that “foreigners fine” or “foreigners not fine”. I think a lot of people are fine with foreigners so long as they’re not billionaires, especially if white. I think it’s more a class thing than a racism thing. People are perfectly willing to be intolerant of others if they think that it’s socially acceptable to do so. I think people’s Marxism gland kicks in remarkably easily here, but then, that’s the generation(s) that they are.


#84

[quote=“yyy, post:78, topic:154722, full:true”]
Yeah, Chinese legalese is soo impenetrable, unlike English legalese, with its champerty and counter-prestations and mutatis mutandis and all that! [/quote]
I agree. It’s only slightly less awful.

Define ‘taxicab’. The problem is that the only plausible definition is circular: a taxi is a car whose owner holds a license to operate as a taxi. Hence my assertion that it’s best not to try to construct an artificial distinction.

You could also argue that Uber doesn’t arrange anything. The consumer does it himself, using the software provided by Uber.

Exactly: a guy in a wig is the final arbiter of what the law says. It’s not supposed to be like that. It’s supposed to be crystal clear, so that the man in the street can know what’s legal and what isn’t, by reading the appropriate statutes.

As you correctly pointed out, it just gets silly. When this kind of hairsplitting arises, it’s a sure sign there’s something fundamentally wrong - something logically wrong, not something that can be fixed by adding some more Latin words.

Certainly. But while arguing for the status quo, which imposes ‘thus far and no farther’ limits on development, you unwittingly retard all sorts of innovation that hasn’t even happened yet.

I’ll see if I can find it. IIRC it was quoted by Hernando de Soto (the economist).

Oh, they’d be absolutely right. Lawyers, social scientists, and economists. They’ll be first against the wall come the revolution. And traffic wardens, obviously.

Yes, Metcalfe’s law. So what’s the problem? Amazon basically rule the world of e-books. I don’t know of any company that even comes close. And because they have a monopoly, they do it really well. They have to do it well or they would cease to be a monopoly. Do you think Amazon should be legislated out of existence?

I’m not arguing that monopolies are wonderful. Just pointing out that there is no reason why they can’t be. When network effects do exist, it often is better to have a monopoly running the show. Can you imagine if 100 different companies ran the train system? If you want to know what that looks like, look at US history. Or contemporary Britain.

The irony is that you’re basically arguing Uber shouldn’t be permitted to become a monopoly because they’re challenging an existing monopoly, and that’s, like, unfair.

So you’re saying it’s best to hobble such enterprises right from the get-go, so that we end up a bunch of horribly inefficient and unprofitable equivalents instead of just one good one?

You’re not even following your own logic. The operators here are actually individuals, not Uber. You can’t get more ‘competitive’ than that. The worst part of your argument is this: you’re saying that billions of NT$ worth of dead capital - private cars - shouldn’t be used to their full potential because it would hurt the government’s taxi monopoly.

It seems to me you’re just regurgitating the economists’ (demonstrably false) argument that monopolies are invariably more inefficient than a ‘competitive market’.


#85

Eh?!? Can somebody get on point on this thread.

Rowland’s stuff is that way ------->


#86

I googled it a while back - apparently it’s called ‘Dark Enlightenment’ philosophy.

Yup, it’s interesting stuff. When I’m a billionaire I’d love to try something like that :slight_smile:

That’s true. Brian’s post suggests he doesn’t like potential billionaires either.


#87

I don’t like Uber yes because they are monopolistic and when corporations get too powerful watch out, few will benefit. Also their stated aim is to put up to 100,000s of Taiwanese out of work, why would I support that?

In fact I’ve read plenty of books about the robber barons of old as well and their monopolistic plans there’s nothing new under the sun about Uber. Nothing new whatsoever.

Billionaires, wouldn’t mind being one myself.

People can fantasize about this or that kind of state but most of us are fairly happy in the one we live in now so I don’t see that changing too much anytime soon!
I will definitely support the democratically elected government and its laws. They are moving in the right direction for me and they get it right more than half the time.

So tow the line Uber pay up or get out :grinning:
Pay over more of your shareholders hard earned $$$$$.

Same goes for new state utopia fantasists . Take your new state to a rocky island off Greenland somewhere you will be completely free to live as you like. All communications will be intercepted and you will be monitored by the evil EU and Americans 24/7 by their spies in the sky. You can sign up for Facebook freenet as long as you click 1000 likes a day. It sounds like a nice cosy existence and you are welcome to experiment with this new state at any time. Tip : improve on fishing skills.


#88

So I was basically correct: your preference is to see billions wasted so that a tiny minority can maintain a backward and substandard service, with no benefit either to themselves or to society, under government protection. I fail to see how ‘robber barons’ could make that situation worse.

It’s worth putting some hard numbers on this. There are 7.5 million private cars in Taiwan, with a market value of roughly 1 trillion NT$. Private cars spend 98% of their time sitting idle. So, you’re asserting that it’s a good thing that $NT1T of capital is prohibited by law from being used productively.

Your justification is that 50,000 people (0.2% of the population) eke out a meager living from driving taxis. Unleashing that torrent of capital would force them to find more productive and higher-paying jobs.

Do you not realise how ridiculous that sounds? It’s about the same as arguing that people shouldn’t be allowed to grow their own vegetables on the basis that it would put farmers out of work.

We’ve already been through this. Drivers pay income taxes (or if they don’t, there are perfectly good legal remedies that apply). Uber pays corporation tax (in the US, where they are incorporated). Nobody is avoiding their legal or moral obligations.


#89

Actually, no.

A taximeter is a device that measures distance traveled so that a fare can be calculated. The prevailing term for taxi in Taiwan, the word they’re translating as taxicab, is jichengche, which is as good a translation of taximeter vehicle as I’ve seen. It’s clearer than the Mainland term chuzuche (rental vehicle) or the Cantonese diksi (borrowed from English). For additional clarity, they present certain criteria like accepting fees and so on.

Compare the legal definition of a buxiban. Iirc the standard criteria are

  1. educational purpose,
  2. open to the public for enrollment,
  3. fixed location for classes, and
  4. accepting fees.
    Taipei adds a fifth criterion, student population of at least 5.

The buxiban regulations and their source law the Supplementary Education Act also require that buxibans be licensed. So can you run an unlicensed buxiban with the excuse that it’s not really a buxiban because there’s no buxiban license? The law has a solution for that: an unlicensed buxiban can be fined out of existence. I don’t see what’s so different about fining an unlicensed taxi company out of existence.

Does this mean the buxiban and taxi regulations are good? Not necessarily. But at least they make sense.

Certainly. But while arguing for the status quo, which imposes ‘thus far and no farther’ limits on development, you unwittingly retard all sorts of innovation that hasn’t even happened yet.

I definitely care about innovation that hasn’t happened yet, which is why the state of education in Taiwan makes me sad. Can no-one think of a better way to change things than breaking the law?

The irony is that you’re basically arguing Uber shouldn’t be permitted to become a monopoly because they’re challenging an existing monopoly, and that’s, like, unfair.

They’re not challenging an existing monopoly. They’re challenging thousands of small monopolies, duopolies, triopolies (is that the word?), free-for-alls, and what not. Unless all the taxi companies in the world BU (Before Uber) were secretly run by a Universal Taxonic Lodge… :eye:


#90

Please do show us the law that says you’re not allowed to use a car productively. :slight_smile:

Do you not realise how ridiculous that sounds? It’s about the same as arguing that people shouldn’t be allowed to grow their own vegetables on the basis that it would put farmers out of work.

What app do you need to download to grow your own vegetables, and how much is the commission you need to pay to a shady foreign company? I hope it’s not too high…


#91

Oh come on. You just quoted them extensively.

No factory owner would invest NT$500K in a machine that was idle for 98% of its existence. He’d want it running 24-7 to get the maximum possible return. You and Brian are basically arguing that this is bad and wrong.

Complete red herring, unless you’re asserting that only app-based businesses ought to be subject to draconian interference.

You might be interested to know that some US counties do actually ban people from growing vegetables in their gardens, on the basis that it looks untidy.

Unfortunately, this is the primary way laws get changed. The lawyers assert that the sky will fall on our heads if such-and-such a law is violated. People come along and violate the law. The sky doesn’t fall on our heads. The lawyers are forced to concede defeat, eventually. After creating massive amounts of misery for all concerned.

As you correctly pointed out, nobody is allowed to drive for profit unless they have a special rubber stamp from the government. The government is the boss. They decide how the taxi business operates, in minute detail. It’s a monopoly. The fact that people are licensed in groups is neither here nor there.

Two words: New York.


#92

I was very clear in my post:

‘I have no problem with ride sharing’.

I have a problem with what will happen with the legions of unemployed older folks with no social welfare when automation takes away their means of making a living.

So in the absence of social welfare and other job opportunities I would rather they still make a living from driving cabs of any description.

We don’t get to wave our hands around and imagine there are 10,000s of other jobs available and employers eager to hire these people.


#93

Brian: seriously? You’re saying driving a taxi is the last lifeline for the elderly?

There are a million and one things those older folks could do if things weren’t so neatly circumscribed. They could, for example, get contract work via Uber. Except that Uber is bad and wrong. They could open a little buxiban and teach the neighbours’ kids from their lifetime of experience. But they’re not allowed to do that either.


#94

It’s not that they aren’t allowed, but I’m familiar with older people’s typical working conditions and job offerings in Taiwan.

The pickings are very slim and driving a taxi is one that is open to most of the older crowd with less discrimination.
Of course older folks can get contract work with any employer including Uber, I don’t see how that improves their current working conditions when Uber doesn’t pay any social contributions. Does Uber even have any full time employed drivers in Taiwan?

Ultimately Uber wants to get rid of all these ‘costs’ and that’s a massive concern for these people’s livliehoods.


#95

This argument makes no sense whatsoever. I take taxis a lot, and perhaps 1 in 30 drivers are older people, and quite frankly 80% of them should not be in charge of a dangerous piece of machinery. If taxi-driving is the only option open to them, it means the system is broken elsewhere. Destroying a multi-billion $ business simply so a few pensioners can hurtle around the freeways in 20-year-old Toyotas is not a solution.


#96

I’m not sure why you’re expressing your inadequate feelings regarding Rowland to a third party. Maybe you should approach him and try to work it out. Better yet, why not engage in some self-improvement so that you can get up to his standard. That might also make the big boys take you more seriously; we’d probably include you in our conversations, too.

@finley It’s not the “Dark Enlightenment” (though it is somewhat a subset of that and overlaps with it). It’s something else with a particular name that is vaguely descriptive. It’s a few years since I’ve read this, so I can’t remember, sorry.


#97

As I guess you are well aware of, in Taiwan anyone over 40 will start to feel ageism. Basically you start to be considered old. There are age limits on applying for many government jobs.
By 50 many can’t get a job in a company (more due to the insecurity of managers than anything else) and therefore they have to turn to the shittier jobs like security or heavy construction. Many will try to start their own small businesses. Some succeed , as many fail and lose their investment.
Some will turn to transport industry such as bus drivers and taxi drivers.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
As I don’t see society stepping in and helping out these folks I’m worried for their livelihoods and future.
With additional large numbers of underemployed desperate people current workers conditions may stagnate or worsen.
You can’t have a new restaurant on every corner.

(PS ride sharing is not creating any real new revenue expansion as far as I can see, it’s just an alternative form of personal transportation that will eat into established businesses. Once it becomes fully automated the profits will be concentrated in a small number of shareholders and managers hands. That 70% of revenue that used to go to drivers will go directly to shareholders.
Companies like Uber aren’t paying into the local revenue pot, are keeping their profits overseas and therefore will be extracting money from our economy).


#98

You don’t seem to understand how fiat currency and global trade works.

Uber drivers will be earning their payments in NT$. Uber takes a cut, and they’ll want to convert those NT$ into US$. That happens when somebody is holding US$ they want to get rid of, and needs NT$ to spend. The vast majority of the time, that somebody is a Taiwanese exporter who has received a US$ payment from a US company in exchange for Taiwanese goods, and they need to pay their Taiwanese supplier in NT$.

Alternatively, you can view Uber as selling NT$ to US companies that wish to buy Taiwanese goods. Neither scenario actually happens directly because there is a banking intermediary, but that’s the net result.

Those NT$ that Uber earns stay in Taiwan. They have to. It’s the only place NT$ have value (spending power). Payment is effectively made in the form of exports to the US, which creates local employment. You might argue that Taiwan is then effectively giving the US free stuff … which it is, in the short run. Observe China, which has run a huge trade deficit for decades, accumulating US dollars (or dollar-denominated instruments). What seems to happen is that domestic trade, and imports, are stimulated as a consequence of the export activity.

Anyway, you now seem to be arguing that some large fraction of the population (10% maybe?) should be deprived of a useful service simply so that 0.01% of the population can perform a job they’re completely unsuited for, which is frankly bizarre.

I’m old, and my driving skills are getting shittier. I’m 100% certain I’ll be a menace to society if I’m allowed behind the wheel at 70. So I hope they’ve invented self-driving cars by then.

Incidentally, I think you’re over-optimistic about Uber’s prospects for fortune. Drivers aren’t going to work for a pittance. Monopolies are always in competition with themselves, or with potential competitors: if they don’t stay on top of their game, the barriers to entry become lower, and somebody else steps in.

I notice Uber have already increased their cut to 25% (from 20%), most likely to cover the costs of vindictive legal action against them. As usual, it’s the guy at the bottom of the pile who suffers: but apparently, you think we should sting them harder?


#99

A: I’m not allowed to use my car as an illegal taxi. Ergo, I’m not allowed to do anything productive with it.

B: I’m allowed to use my car as a legal taxi. Ergo, I’m allowed to do something productive with it.

Is your car half empty or half full?

While we’re at it…

A: I’m not allowed to use my car as a murder weapon, a place to stash drugs, or anything else that happens to be illegal, even though those things can be very “productive”. Ergo, I have no opportunities in life.

B: I’m allowed to use my car for absolutely any purpose that isn’t illegal, and some of those purposes may be “productive” even if they don’t directly put cash in my hand. Ergo, I have many opportunities in life.

No factory owner would invest NT$500K in a machine that was idle for 98% of its existence. He’d want it running 24-7 to get the maximum possible return. You and Brian are basically arguing that this is bad and wrong.

You can see life as one big factory, and there are lawyers, judges, politicians etc. in Taiwan who will totally be on your wavelength. But I think most people buy cars for convenience and/or pleasure, rather than to make as much money as possible. Maybe that’s just my western bias, like with the real estate market.

[quote][quote][quote]It’s about the same as arguing that people shouldn’t be allowed to grow their own vegetables on the basis that it would put farmers out of work.
[/quote]What app do you need to download to grow your own vegetables, and how much is the commission you need to pay to a shady foreign company? I hope it’s not too high…[/quote]
Complete red herring, unless you’re asserting that only app-based businesses ought to be subject to draconian interference.
[/quote]
Dude, it’s your fish! I’m just cooking it for you… along with some vegetables I grew in my own garden, free from corporate interference! :smile:

And you misunderstand my point of view. I’m not in favor of draconian interference in anyone’s business. I would love to see stupid laws reformed all over the world, definitely including Taiwan, and definitely including the taxi industry. However, I would not extend such reform to the abolition of state regulation of commerce, because I’m not an anarchist.

As you correctly pointed out, nobody is allowed to drive for profit unless they have a special rubber stamp from the government. The government is the boss. They decide how the taxi business operates, in minute detail. It’s a monopoly. The fact that people are licensed in groups is neither here nor there.

By that reckoning, anything regulated by the government is a monopoly. I think most economists would disagree, but they’re probably biased against anarchism, so we don’t need to take them too seriously. :slight_smile:

I would comment on the other stuff if I had all the time in the world. I don’t completely agree with Brian, but I do share some of his concerns.


#100

“Productive”: I was pointing out that cars are one of the most expensive, and the most ludicrously underused, toys that our civilization has ever produced. They are a scourge, a pox, a massive black hole into which vast sums of money are poured for no apparent result except “entertainment”. This is nothing short of obscene in a world where a billion people live in packing crates and eat trash to survive. Anything that makes cars into marginally-productive assets is a Good Thing in my book.

You are not allowed to do anything except entertain yourself with your car. Anything profitable is forbidden by law, as you’ve taken pains to point out. And I’m using “profit” in the broadest sense: an addition to the total sum of human wealth, as opposed to a movement of green paper from pocket A to pocket B.

I think you misunderstand my views. You don’t seem to comprehend the value - in terms of human lives, man-hours, intellectual property, planetary resources - which are consumed in the manufacture of a car. Just a few hundred years ago, the richest man on the planet could not have conceived of owning such a thing. To leave all that encapsulated wealth sitting on a street corner, doing nothing except rusting away, is a crime.

Neither would I. However, I’d like to see all such regulation subjected to a simple test:

“Why are we doing this? Who does it benefit?”.

If the answer is “nobody”, I suggest the regulation is pointless.

Secondly:

“Does this regulation make logical sense?”

If it doesn’t, then it’s going to be unenforceable, even if it appears superficially desirable.

Um … no. The government does not merely regulate taxis. “Regulation” generally just means defining some standards. The radio spectrum is regulated. Driving standards are regulated. Food suppliers are regulated. Within the scope of those regulations there is a huge amount of leeway for different types of business. For example, the government says that a few megahertz of bandwidth around 2.4GHz is license-free. It doesn’t lay down any rules about what you can and can’t do with it, as long as you stay within the power and bandwidth specification.

Taxis, different story. The government defines absolutely everything about the way taxis operate, even down to - apparently - the way you can summon one. The government is the management, the CEO, operating a fleet of vehicles that are all basically offering an identical service. Surely the defining characteristic of a malevolent monopoly is that it acts to crush competitors, which is exactly what’s happening here?

I’m having trouble even figuring out what his concerns are. He started off by arguing that potentially profitable ideas should be subjected to special taxes so that they don’t become too profitable. Now, apparently, he’s concerned that Uber will make old people destitute. Honestly, I’ve never seen so much handwringing over what’s basically a matchmaking app.


#101

It seems that our ways of thinking about these things are so divergent that continuing the discussion would not be very productive for either of us.

I wish you a pleasant, productive, and profitable day. :bowing: