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Are Uber and other 'disruptive' startups cutting red tape or stripping consumer protections?

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Uber for iPhone
Uber for iPhone

When Uber taxi service came to New York, it was easy to consider it a scrappy underdog, fighting the city's opaque and complex regulations. But Paul Carr of PandoDaily sees it and similar "disruptive" startups differently: by disregarding rules designed to prevent price gouging or unlicensed cabs, CEO Travis Kalanick is signaling that the success of Uber is more important than the well-being of its customers or other citizens.

The rise of internet startups has certainly led to plenty of new arguments about how regulation should work, but some rhetoric draws from the much older Objectivist tradition, which (among other things) holds that regulations help the poor and weak exploit the inherently superior wealthy. "We kid ourselves if we think most Disruptive businesses are fighting government bureaucracy to bring us a better deal," Carr writes. "A Disruptive company might very well succeed in exposing government crooks lining their pockets exploiting outdated laws, but that’s only so the Disruptor can line his own pockets through the absence of those same laws."