Surprised Jeff didn’t have this one. Technology has enabled people who need rides to connect with people who have rides to offer through services like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber. The taxicab companies are not happy about these interlopers. In a Free Market, the taxicab companies would have to up their game in order to hold onto their customers; i.e. offer better services and/or better prices… cabs that don’t smell like the floor of a dive bar’s bathroom, drivers with a higher level of courtesy than a rap star’s bodyguards. But in the modern “progressive” political economy, it’s easier just to get their bought-and-paid-for politicians to shut the competition down and claim it’s for the Common Good.
In Philadelphia, the city has confiscated the automobiles of people participating in Sidecar’s ridesharing service. In Austin TX, these services have been banned outright at the behest of… of course … taxicab companies. Minneapolis is requiring ride-sharers to register and be licensed as taxi drivers (an expensive, time-consuming process subject to the whims of bureaucracy). Efforts are underway in NYC, DC, Atlanta, and other large socialist-run cities to ban the services entirely.
It is also bothersome to the bureaucrats that the ratings systems provided by consumers offer a higher assurance of driver quality than the paperwork of a thousand bureaucrats.
Ask yourself: Would you rather ride with a driver who has been rated by other passengers, with that rating posted on your cell phone and monitored continuously by a company with a stake in maintaining consumer confidence, or one who has been cleared by some local political appointee who might, just might, see approval of a driver as a source of income?
You also don’t have to worry about a Somali cabdriver refusing to give you a ride because your guide dog is forbidden according to his Mohammedan religion.
Demagogues will always find some reason to oppose the free market; “public safety” or “protecting jobs.” When Progressives rail against “unbridled capitalism,” they are railing against the innovation, efficiency, and higher standard of service that comes from free market competition. And what they are advocating instead is bureaucracy, cronyism, and stagnation.