Why Uber Debate Should Center On Business Ethics

Posted on September 17, 2014 by - Also by this author

Peter Thiel, author of Zero to One, shared his thoughts today on the CNBC network about Uber's business strategies. He called the company “ethically-challenged” in its competition with rival Lyft for drivers.

Thiel makes a good point, and it's refreshing to hear talk about good ethics in the world of business, especially since there are so many examples where good character and consistent ethics get shorted.

As anyone tied to the limousine industry knows, the ethics question goes much further than a simple rivalry over attracting or snatching employees. The overriding ethics issues to be discussed are the ones centering on regulatory fairness and public safety. On those two fronts, Uber and all Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) come up short, resorting to excuses, deceptions, libertarian publicity blather, and strong-arm lobbying to circumvent or get exempted from those rules and standards that apply to other ground transportation sectors.

On the playgrounds and sports fields where we all grow up, that’s called cheating. Even a 3-year-old can grasp that concept. Cheating is fueled by impulse, envy, entitlement and arrogance.

Business success boils down to character: Playing by the rules, respecting the property of others, doing what you say, and also, paying what you owe. No business will survive ethics problems for long, not even Uber. So as limousine industry advocates work on a myriad of TNC-related regulatory and legislative efforts nationwide, the unifying theme should be a fight for fairness and ethics. Cheating is not the American Way.

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