Oxymoronic: Bureaucrats and Sharing

The latest business to employ open source and social networking thinking has run afoul of some authorities because it’s breaking THE RULES. PickupPal.com organizes carpools for people via the Internet. It claims to be the world’s largest carpooling community and has more than 6,000 members in BC. But PickupPal has apparently earned the attention of government regulators – or more likely, licensed transportation companies whose monopolies are threatened – because its carpools are being used for more than just commuting to work. Astonishingly, some mutineers are actually using it to share rides to other places. Like, perhaps the grocery store, or to parties. We can’t have that, some Canadian authorities have huffed. We license carriers who transport people from here to there and these rebels are flouting the law. BC has landed firmly in the middle, with some regulatory arms saying it’s okay, and others thundering that it’s illegal. Ontario has flat out ruled that PickupPal is a criminal that must be stopped. After all, society has its rules. Presumably, authorities will next go after university bulletin boards, and other places where people post notes saying they would like to share a ride to somewhere, gas money provided. They’re flouting the regulations as well. Seems to me that all PickupPal has done is to use the power of the Internet to organize these disparate community bulletin boards, and charge a fee to do it. It’s called a marketplace, and it has self regulating mechanisms. If the fee is too high, people find alternatives. So, especially in Canada, where we love regulation and have generally ceded authority to bureaucrats to rule us with a heavy hand, should give their heads a shake. Modern communications is rapidly destroying this kind of power mongering. The world’s now more democratic. So all bureaucracies – governmental and corporate – better adapt.