Open Letter to David Plouffe: When Fighting an Entrenched Status-Quo, Don’t Stop at Transportation

(Guest Post by A.D. Motzen)

Dear Mr. Plouffe,

Congratulations on your new position as senior vice president of policy and strategy at one of my favorite companies, Uber.  Ever since I spent 35 minutes waiting for a cab outside of LaGuardia airport, I’ve become a dedicated Uber customer.

Before you get too settled in at your new office, however, I would like to offer you a position at my new start-up. I call it UberEd.

You were recently quoted as saying that you would work “to ensure drivers and riders are not denied their opportunity for choice in transportation.”

Presumably you were hinting at the challenge you will face from an entrenched monopoly which doesn’t like competition. Rather than improve their product and meet the needs of their customers and employees, your adversaries will spend millions of dollars on political donations and lobbyists to ensure that laws and regulations will be written to keep out the competition.

But you and Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, apparently believe in transportation choice. While perhaps not a Constitutional right (yet), transportation is one of the most basic needs of every American citizen, especially for those who live or work in urban areas. By providing choices and flexibility you will be able to offer a better product that meets the needs of individual customers at a lower cost. Why, even the employees will be happier! Most importantly, even the competition – those dreaded yellow taxi unions – will ultimately be forced to compete and either lower their prices or improve their service.

My start-up is based on those same principles, so it should be a good fit with your philosophy. Rather than working “to ensure drivers and riders are not denied their opportunity for choice in transportation,” my idea would ensure that parents and children are not denied their opportunity for choice in education. My motto would be “everyone’s private or public school.”

It’s a simple concept that was already Beta tested in more than a dozen states using “experiments” such as charters, vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and now education savings accounts. In all of those vehicles, parents have a choice on how to get their child from point A to point B – traditional public, charter, or private school.

Using UberEd, a parent can check which schooling options are available for their child simply by pressing a button on a smartphone. The name of the closest schools (or alternative program) come up on the screen and by clicking on the school icons, the parent can find out information about each option. Parents don’t have to worry about tuition bills as the app is set up so that the state funding allocated to that specific child would be credited to their spending account. Just tap the payment button and the school will get the money through a third-party without having any access to your personal bank account. If a parent wants a more expensive school they can always  choose UberEd Xtra and supplement the state-allocated funds with their own personal resources. Schools could be rated by a parent based on any number of criteria so that other UberEd users would know what to expect.

I could go on, but I don’t want to give up too much information just in case someone actually goes out and files a patent (I haven’t) and raises some venture capital before I do.

Uber was recently valued at $18 billion because it will completely redefine and improve transportation as we know it. UberEd (a.k.a. school choice) is radically changing education as we know it. Education is the uber-vehicle to a brighter future for our children. Isn’t that priceless?

But as you probably figured out by now, I can’t offer you a job just yet. Parents first need more states to actually allow school funding to follow the child. Maybe I’ll give you a call at that point and you and Mr. Kalanick can help me build that app.

In the meantime, I wish you all the luck in the world.

Together with millions of parents across the country, I am hoping that your arguments of opportunity and choice will prevail against the status quo. We are hoping that your former boss, President Obama, and elected officials across the country will take heed and be forced to choose a side.

Entrenched status quo or innovation, opportunity, and choice?

Choose one. Then tap on the UberEd app.

A. D.

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6 Responses to Open Letter to David Plouffe: When Fighting an Entrenched Status-Quo, Don’t Stop at Transportation

  1. But if Uber uses public roads doesn’t it have to be accountable to the public as to whether their cars are up to date on oil changes, play non-offensive radio stations, and use only hypoallergenic air fresheners? We need national standards that apply to all transportation companies that use public roads to ensure that they are “destination-ready.”

    • Greg Forster says:

      Why only Uber? All cars should be subject to these standards.

      It’s only for transparency. How could we possibly know anything about how people use their cars, if they aren’t all held accountable to the same set of standards?

    • mike g says:

      I agree with the post and your larger point….

      Small-ish point: Maybe not air fresheners, but Uber doesn’t dispute need for licensed driver, car insurance, car inspection sticker, etc. (Though it may dispute type of license, type of insurance, etc).

      Large-ish point: Uber has a bunch of young upper middle class liberal voters they can mobilize. Interesting how they appear for their own benefit (against the interest of minority cabbies, for example), but not for, say, single mothers from poor families.

  2. […] 5. Open Letter to David Plouffe (of Obama campaign fame)  […]

  3. […] the Jay P. Greene blog today, Rabbi A.D. Motzen has an open letter for David Plouffe – newly appointed senior vice president of policy and strategy at ride-sharing company Uber.  By […]

  4. Rebecca Gau says:

    This is awesome.

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