Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Uber, price gouging and class warfare.

Uber's was price gouging in Sydney in the wake of the Cityrail delays on March 8.  For the sake of the working class I hope they continue to do so.  Price gouging is generally seen as evil businessmen taking advantage of poor, hapless, consumers.  In the case of Uber however almost 3/4 of the benefit of "price gouging" goes to the working man.  Or possibly the working woman, the Uber computers are not clear on the difference.  Given the prices allegedly paid for Uber trips clearly those "price gouged" were relatively rich.  Poor people don't generally pay $500 for a trip from the city to Mount Annan.  According to google maps that should take a bit over an hour.  So some worker got 72.5%*$500 = $362.50 AUD for the trip. This is a good thing for the working class. 

But Credible, I hear you cry, you're an anarcho-capitalist, you love rich people and hate the poor right?  Wrong.  What I love is humans getting what they want, provided it doesn't infringe anyone's rights.  Charging a rich person more when something is in short supply doesn't infringe anyone's rights.  While in an ideal world neither rich nor poor would have suffered hours-long delays at least because of Uber the rich can get home.  This benefitted not just the rich Uber passengers but also bus riders who had less crowding and delays than otherwise would be the case.  

Also the voluntary transfer of wealth from rich to poor served the interests of both.  The Law of Returns says the marginal utility of money to poor people is greater than to rich people. So a transfer of money from poor to rich would theoretically raise total utility.  This is a far better argument for socialism than "fairness" arguments.  However obviously a coercive transfers are unlikely raise total utility as history has proven time and time again.  Here however the transfer was voluntary, the rich trading time for money at a rate the poor were more than happy with.  The higher prices available obviously would have caused some Uber drivers to clock on who otherwise would not have, which didn't happen with traditional taxis to the same extent.  Increased supply of useful services and their distribution to those who valued them highest were achieved. Both money and time ended up with the people who wanted them most.  Which isn't surprising since getting things to the people who are prepared to trade most for them is what capitalism does.

But didn't the workers and Uber management take unfair advantage of the consumers?  Well what makes it unfair?  The passengers have no right to have Uber drivers give them a ride.  They have no right to get a ride ahead of other passengers.  If they were treated unfairly they should be able to point to something they should have been given that they weren't.  But they were given everything they were requested.  They wanted a ride and they got it.  They preference over hundreds of other potential customers and they got it. So what weren't they given?  Oh, yeah, all of that for no additional money.  That's not a rights violation, that's a reality check.  The people complaining about the high prices they were charged didn't complain that they got home ahead of people who weren't prepared to pay as much.  So they wanted the benefits of a system that charges high prices, but not to pay the actual high prices.  Frankly it's upper class arrogance at it's worst.