Column: California's Politicians Threaten to Suffocate Silicon Valley's Gig Magic

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

One cold, drizzly evening last October, my family and I faced a dilemma. Our planned dinner at a local steakhouse with guests was delayed. Now dinner out would mean screaming, annoyed glances, and a chaotic retreat.

AB-5 will make it illegal for the man in the front seat to work as a contractor for Uber, even if he wants to. (Image by Alex Jumper, via Unsplash, license.)
Fortunately, There's an app for that was no longer just an advertising slogan. It was a reality. The bright icons on our phones, brought to our attention an enterprising army of sitters and food couriers. After a brief discussion and the tap of a finger, the mouth-watering scent of steak wafted through our home as the driver accepted several crisp bills as a tip. After we dined and the kids dozed off in their beds, we enjoyed an evening of pleasant conversation.

The magicians of Silicon Valley bring to life countless such once-impossible, minor fairy tales every day. But California's legislators are about to sound Cinderella's clock by turning these win-win propositions into pumpkins at the stroke of a pen.

Isn't it nice that some third party didn't have the power to arbitrarily grant us these carriages, only to take them away? Every time Joe has somewhere to go and Cindy wants to make a few bucks driving in her spare time, the wizards at Uber grant two wishes at once -- for a pittance. Fairy Godmothers are looking worse every day.

But that doesn't stop people from trying to play that part. Take Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. In her head, Joe has escaped with too much gold in his pockets and Cindy is a helpless maiden. And the ride-share companies? They be dragons lounging on piles of loot.

As if this weren't fantastic enough, consider that her incantation, Assembly Bill 5, is intended to help Cindy ... by making her Uber's employee, perhaps even retroactively...

To continue reading my latest column, please proceed to RealClear Markets.

I would like to thank Steve D. and my wife for their comments on earlier versions of this piece.

-- CAV

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