Friday, March 18, 2016

Emery: Bill would make TNCs available to Missourians

(From Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar)

A vital part of entrepreneurship is innovation. A careful reading of Webster’s definition of innovation broadens the mind and inspires thinking. A present-day example of the value of innovation is the rise of Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) like Uber and Lyft. Uber currently operates in three Missouri cities: St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia. This week at the Capitol, they announced plans to expand to three more cities: St. Joseph, Springfield, and Jefferson City. Their projection is the creation of 10,000 new “jobs.”

House Bill 2330 and Senate Bill 991 are similar bills written to ensure that TNC’s and their “employees” in Missouri have a set of rules (regulations) that allows them to structure their procedures and forecast their costs. The House bill has been heard and voted out of committee and is awaiting floor time on the House calendar. The Senate bill has not been scheduled for a public hearing.

TNC’s are a real-time example of the character that inspired American exceptionalism. Individual liberty exists on both sides of the transaction. Drivers may work whenever and wherever they choose, and riders can call for a ride whenever they need one, by pushing a button. Meeting a need is the heart of the free market and what drives the entire TNC process. The economy is still extremely depressed, and countless families could well use a couple hundred or thousand extra dollars to keep current on bills. Finally, without the fundamental American principle of property rights – whether it is the intellectual property of the synergistic application of technology to assets and ideas or the personal property of hundreds of screened drivers - TNC’s would not exist.

Webster says innovation should be “expedient” and “safe,” and TNC’s (by his definition) are both. They don’t remedy an “evil” per se (unless evil can be restated as inconvenience), but they obviously meet an important need as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of riders who benefit daily from their services across the nation. TNC’s meet Webster’s “safe” definition because they are need-driven. They do not begin operating in an area until sufficient numbers of potential riders have downloaded their App and started looking for rides. So, if you want to have drivers in your area, download the App and start checking for rides whenever one would be convenient.

With the passage of either House Bill 2330 or Senate Bill 991, this innovative application of transportation will become increasingly available to Missourians. TNC’s are a demonstration of American innovation and entrepreneurship. They are a testimony to the principles of individual liberty and economic freedom that took a fledgling nation from wooden plows to space travel in 200 years. According to Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, “The ability to recognize opportunities and move in new - and sometimes unexpected - directions will benefit you no matter your interests or aspirations.”

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