Must-read: Marshall Steinbaum: “Uber’s Antitrust Problem”
Must-Read: Are Uber and companies like it anti-rent seeking plays? Yes. Are they regulatory arbitrage plays? Yes. Are they behavioral economics plays–exploiting their workers who don’t properly calculate depreciation? Plausibly. What’s the proper balance? Allowing Uber to claim that its workers are in no sense its employees is surely wrong. Shielding existing rent-seeking monopolies created by regulatory capture from competition from Uber and its ilk is also surely wrong:
Uber’s Antitrust Problem: “The Uber lawsuit captures the key question facing policymakers struggling to regulate the ‘gig’ and ‘platform’ economies…:
…Are the new behemoths of the tech sector innovators that make the economy more efficient by ‘disrupting’ antiquated business models? Or are they just the trusts of a second Gilded Age, their new-fangled apps the equivalent of the railroad networks that monopolized commerce and access to markets 126 years ago, when the Sherman Act first took effect?
Until now, Uber and its fellow tech giants have managed to mystify policymakers and judges with double-speak regarding their relationship with employees. But in his decision allowing the case to move forward, Judge Rakoff wrote: ‘The advancement of technological means for the orchestration of large-scale price-fixing conspiracies need not leave antitrust law behind.’ Now one court has the chance to decide whether Uber can continue to have it both ways.