To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately

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In a 9-0 decision Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to cap the number of UberX, Sidecar and Lyft drivers on our streets — to protect the legitimate interests of taxi companies and the revenue they create for our city.

So, I thought we should come up with 10 other important limits that we as a city can and should place on new technology-based business models. Here they are:


  1. To protect the legitimate interests of the U.S. Postal Service and keep the price of stamps reasonable for our citizens, the City should cap the number of emails we send to no more than five per day.
  2. To protect the legitimate interests of U.S. petroleum companies, local gasoline stations, and our strategic interests in the Middle East, the City should cap the number of Teslas in Seattle at 1,000 and eliminate Priuses altogether.
  3. To protect the legitimate interests of local employer Microsoft and the new-and-much-improved Windows Phone, the City Council should cap the number of iPhones to 5,000 and Android mobile devices to 10,000.  While we are at it, shouldn’t we cap the number of Google searches to five per day to protect the important tax revenue that comes from the relevant high-paid, Seattle-based Microsoft employees that work in search?
  4. To protect the legitimate interests of local hotels and their employees, the City should cap the number of Seattle listings on airbnb to 10.
  5. To protect the legitimate interests of PC manufacturers and the important operating systems that run on PCs, the City Council should cap the number of mobile tablets in the city at 1,000.
  6. To protect the legitimate interests and margins of our local hospitals, the City Council should limit the number of Fitbits to no more than 1,000 within the city limits. Moreover, the City should cap the use of arthroscopic surgery to one body part per individual as this new surgical procedure may limit the amount of time people spend in the hospital.
  7. To protect the legitimate interests of our school teachers, the City should cap the amount of time students can spend on Khan Academy and other free learning sites to no more than one hour per week.
  8. To protect the legitimate interests of cellular companies and their employees in our region, the City should cap the amount of free Wi-Fi we can use for data transfer to no more than three hours per day.
  9. To protect the legitimate interests of local merchants and retailers without hurting the growth of Seattle-based Amazon, the City Council should cap the amount of non-Amazon e-commerce purchases to no more than three per year.
  10. To protect the legitimate interests of our local movie theaters and retail DVD/VHS video stores, the City should cap the number of on-demand movies to one per week.

The City needs to act quickly because once these technologies and new business models take hold, it is very difficult to go back.

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  • Hakon Verespej

    Hilarious! =)

  • RZ2849

    Spot on.

  • KyleKesterson

    Get on this @SeattleCouncil, innovation and disruption is running rampant!

    Actually, cut the problem off at the head, and limit to 5 angel and 5 VC deals per quarter.

    (I agree to limiting emails sent.. But for other reasons!) :)

  • Dwight Battle

    What’s sad is that the City Council might read this, and think you’re serious.

  • Michael Magnussen

    You go, Greg!

  • smjvc

    I wonder how many drunk driving deaths are prevented by Uber each year?

  • buzzbruggeman

    Classic…have you shared this with the Mayor? What I thought was interesting is that the council voted9-0 to insure that the Mayor couldn’t veto it. Remarkable!

  • OmarSayyed

    To protect the legitimate interest of Comcast, AT&T, TimeWarner, Et al. US Government should limit the use of Netflixt and Hulu… Wait that’s going to happen.

  • Phil Gordon

    To protect the interests of our great city, we should make sure that none of these people are ever elected to a public office again.

    • kbar13

      to protect the interests of the city, everyone should be barred from voting.

    • Red Russak

      Well said! As a next step, how about finding a few tech-minded individuals to run for City Council? :-)

    • steve

      History repeats itself. You just deregulated the taxi industry. The last time did not go well for Seattle.

      The city gave these companies 150 free permits when drivers have paid up to 160,000 dollars and you have smart Alec comments. This is the equivalent of the government taking your house without paying you for it. Property rights?

      This is not about technology but venture capitalist trying to take over an industry. Cab companies could have put terminals in Unmarked cars thirty years ago but they follow the rule of law.

      • mfftc

        Perhaps the law is wrong and needs to be updated. Change the rules. As for the $160K medallion fee this is a construct created by governmental fiat and artificially limited availability. In other words our governmental overseers trying to manage the markets – and the all too predictable unintended consequences.
        Yes, the current law abiding cabbies had to pay for these. Would suggest that the equitable thing to do is to have the gov’t buy them all back at a rational “market” rate. Doubt the current cabbies are any too happy with new competition (what company ever is) – but they shouldn’t be expected to play by different rules and also to have these mandated medallions completely nuked in value.
        Taxpayers get stuck with the cost but their gov’t created the mess in the first place. And in the long run those who use these 3rd party transport services will benefit from innovation, better service models, and likely lower costs.

  • Peter Chee

    Great article Greg!

  • VanCity

    Have you heard of the Trans Pacific partnership agreement?

    This is being negotiated behind closed doors and attempts to sneak in things like the ability for corporations to sue nations for losses in revenue due to that nations own policies (like a cap on innovation).
    Think about the article now on a larger scale…
    Companies suing Seattle for imposing limitations. Guess who pays the bill? Tax payers.

  • Andrew

    Sounds a bit Randian…

  • Gary Watson

    Excellent. Duly tweeted.

  • mshobe

    Keeping it local, let’s not forget the legitimate interests of our chairlift operators; starting this weekend at Crystal Mountain, only one ride up per skier on Chinook Express.

    • msaffitz

      Now this is crosses a line…

    • Rory Triskaideka

      Too far.

  • Margaret Leber

    What happens when unions and liberals get together. Yes, it *does* sound Randian, doesn’t it, Andrew. Funny thing…

    • Mitt Romney’s Dog

      Funny how you “randians” are the first ones to start whining hysterically when the latest unregulated scan crashes and burns, taking your precious money along with it, ala Bitcoin.

      • andrew_myers

        These are not the Randians you’re looking for.

      • Houshalter

        Someone said the word “randian”? Fire the irrelevant bitcoin insults!

  • Spin City

    Politics at its best:
    “The headline should not read that the City Council capped anything,” Harrell said. “It should read that it allowed the ride-shares to come into the industry.”

    Thank you, great lords of the city council…

  • Linden Rhoads

    To protect conventional and comfortable thinking, we are to be careful during commutes and showers to strictly dwell on our nostalgia for the past, and not noodle; Seattle residents are to limit ourselves to one clever or innovative thought a year — and then we are to keep that thought to ourselves.

  • Judy

    That’s nice.

    And such adolescent libertarian fantasies are so deliciously mockable when lack of regulations start having their inevitably chaotic and unsafe end results.

    Grow up.

    • Ki

      Only people who are young or who have extremely weak minds tend to call others “adolescents” or tell others to “grow up” for having differing opinions. It’s a form of ad hominem. It’s an attempt to deride others and distract from a complete lack of substance. I’d wager 90% of the readers see right through you.

      Stopping government (and its crony capitalism) subjugating and plundering the masses is a libertarian “fantasy” to you?

      That’s humorous. That used to be a “liberal” “fantasy” too before neoliberalism joined the ranks of neoconism to enrich the status quo and completely delude people into becoming followers. Followers of neoliberalism and neoconism feel like they’re civic soldiers spreading “good” and “liberating” all while doing the opposite in varying ways. They start to excel at being faithfuls to corporations and accelerating the ability of the state to increase its power for wars, the military, prisons, and a surveillance society. They appease republicanism/oligarchy and act apologetic for all manner of horrors their systems conducts. They rarely question their own dogma. They mistake this for maturity because that’s the environment they grow into and that type of conformity breeds that type of philosophy and rejection of anyone who dares question. They begin mistake the push for real liberal philosophy for “chaos” because anything that pushes against the order of power in an oligarchical-ran collective so feels like a threat, like chaos, to their entire simplistic world view as civic pawns.

  • Mitt Romney’s Dog

    To protect the legitimate interests of venture capitalists, we should get rid of all regulations because the most important thing is allowing them to make more money.

  • Mike McGinn


  • Warren Whitlock

    To protect the legitimate interests of local comedians, they should limit blogs to one poets a year. LOL

  • Reader

    Prior to this legislation, the operation of TNCs in Seattle was illegal. All for-hire vehicles are covered by the existing regulations which didn’t permit TNCs.
    Post this legislation, the operation of the TNCs in Seattle is legal. A specific set of language has been inserted to allow the operation of TNCs in a limited fashion.

  • Kirill Zubovsky |

    To protect the legitimate interests of our local transportation authorities, highway signs shall be replaced with hipsters holding those same signs. A minimum of two people per sign shall be assigned: one to hold it, one to illuminate it at night. Bonus point for replacing automated I-90 gates with live people, holding stop signs.

  • Kirill Zubovsky |

    To protect the legitimate interests of our local barbers, hipster shall be required to shave and get a haircut at least twice a month.

    Hm.. that might actually be a good thing.

  • Chris Topher Conley

    Government should protect us from monopolies, not enforce them. All of these recommendations are less ridiculous than the City Council’s.

  • Jerry D Goldberg

    The Council’s solution of limiting drivers was ridiculous. That being said, the current taxi drivers who paid many thousands of dollars (a good deal immigrants investing their life savings) need to be somehow compensated for the investment and effort they were required to make by the City. Real Estate agents (and their lobby) would balk if suddenly 500 new people said they were going to start selling their neighbors’ houses and take the commissions at a lower rate and these 50 didn’t have to have a R/E license or any training.
    There has to be an intelligent solution that is progressive for new technology yet doesn’t punish legitimate drivers who followed the rules. Unfortunately, intelligent solutions and City Councils is usually a contradiction in terms.

  • tamccann

    Great post Greg. A few to add.

    To protect the interests of local grocery stores, citizens are limited to 1 Amazon Fresh delivery/year.

    To protect the interests of local restaurants, citizens should be limited to 6 food truck visits/year.

    To protect the interests of local cobblers, citizens should be limited to only 2 free returns to Zappos/year. Wait, returns help the shipping services, so I am confused who is winning or losing in this one.

  • bernici

    Last time I rode in a yellow cab from the airport, got in an argument with the driver over driving safely and he dropped me off abandoned in burien. Not to mention the lose your lunch queasy feeling from being driven by a lead foot. It’s okay, an uber showed up to rescue me in less than 5 minutes. #neveragain