Cab Drivers. Kick 'em while they're down.
August 17, 2012
As I have reported in these pages before, the government of the City of Hamilton has inflicted enormous harm on the rank and file taxi driver/owner/operator over the last two decades.
It is difficult for me to say, at this point, whether the damage was inflicted out of negligence, stupidity or for more sinister reasons.
As a lifetime student of Gov. Inc. I tend to believe that stupidity and negligence alone are sufficient to explain taxi regulatory policy in Hamilton.
Consider, for example, the 30% mandated meter rate increase that was imposed back in 2008.
This massive increase in taxi prices was implemented ostensibly to address the high price of gasoline at the time. Anyone with a passing familiarity with first semester college economics would easily see what the result of such a price increase in a market already suffering soft demand would be.
But the bureaucrats and politicians at City Hall were, apparently, blissfully unaware of these basic economic principles. So they blithely went ahead.
The rest was just one more minor entry in the history of the misery imposed on the populace by their governments.
Cab driver's incomes plummeted. Those taxi riders who continued to use taxi services were being gouged. Those taxi riders who preferred to use taxi's rather than alternate modes of transportation .... were forced to switch to a less preferred mode of transportation.
In other words, EVERYONE who was involved either as a provider or a consumer in this small market experienced a decline in their standard or quality of living. (Except for the brokers.... but that's a whole other story.)
The only winners, if any (besides the brokers,) were the coercively funded Gov. Inc. monopoly - a communist inspired application of the Marxist "To each according his need," dictum - the public bus service. (Hamilton Street Railway or HSR - a heavily subsidized and very well paid appendage of Gov. Inc. who, according to one account saw a 6% increase in ridership in the immediate wake of the taxi fare increase.)
Was it because they were doing such a spanking good job? Or was it because those on the margin were "nudged", to use Cass Sunstein's word for it, into the embrace of Gov. Inc. transit by the rate increase?
I documented part of the result with my cellphone camera ....
It turns out that it was not only the taxi drivers and their customers who were shafted by decisions made in the halls of Gov. Inc.
Since Gov. Inc. decimated the cab business with it's ill advised fare increase... other Hamiltonians are finding their quality of life diminished because available metered parking spots have experienced a spike in demand as a result of the huge surplus of vacant cabs.
Economics Lesson: Gov. Inc. price fixing always causes shortages and surpluses. Gov. Inc. fixing of taxi rates is no different. The artificially high price of taxis has, predictably, created both a shortage (a shortage of passengers) and a surplus (a surplus of cabs) and, perhaps not so predictably, a shortage of metered parking spaces in some areas.
According to one irate Hamiltonian city policy has also resulted in a rash of parking meter crime as taxis waiting in the artificially created queues fail to insert coins into the parking meters.
Our civic minded Hamiltonian is apparently so miffed by the failure of starving cab drivers to pour even more money into the coffers of Gov. Inc. that he sat down and wrote a letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator...
Get cabs, drivers off Hunter Street
You can tell the author of this letter has a deeply analytical mind.
For example.... he sees a long line of cabs on Hunter St. and he knows there is a gas station only a block away and that "You'll always find taxis parked in that lot." (Surprise, surprise! - another taxi surplus.) and that, even as he acknowledges there are always taxis parked in that lot he recommends that the taxis on Hunter join the existing surplus of taxis already known to occupy the gas station.
I mean, is this guy deep or what? He really knows how to solve problems. He should be running for mayor.
But the depth of this man's insight does not stop there. He has also observed that, "they often leave cigarette butts and other garbage on the ground. If the weather is hot as it has been, it is not unusual for them to leave the driver's door open (damn them for seeking relief) thereby blocking half the sidewalk," -- which is not a big problem for most pedestrians who simply use the other half of the sidewalk. But I guess this guy wants the whole sidewalk to himself.
The garbage on the ground could come from any of the people who use that stretch of sidewalk but this deep thinker sees a cab.... sees garbage on the ground and concludes the garbage came from the cab.
Also.... since the cab drivers of the city have been dissemployed by Gov. Inc. mandates and they can not smoke in their cabs using ashtrays because of other Gov. Inc. mandates, is it any surprise that their idleness might be relieved by smoking cigarettes?
As to his final complaint, "They also often gather to chat and block the sidewalk," well, as one of the offending cab drivers I can authoritatively report that while it is true we often gather to chat most of us are just ordinary people with the same sense of courtesy as anyone else and if we DO happen to be on the sidewalk instead of on the grass adjacent to the sidewalk (where there is more shade) we always step aside to make way for pedestrians walking by.
In other words, this "blocking of the sidewalk" is more a figment of this guy's imagination than a reality.
So in the end I find myself scratching my head and asking myself, "So what exactly is this guy's problem?"
From the intel I have managed to dig up on this guy it seems he does not drive a car so his "problem" is not about a shortage of parking spaces for private cars.
He seems instead to be a good little Gov. Inc clone .... and when he sees someone parking in a spot without putting coins in the meter he feels obligated to point out this grave defiance of Gov. Inc. revenue collection. From there his deeply analytical mind ventures off into an inventory of all of the peripheral offenses.
His website states that the passion in his life is his dog.
It's too bad this dog lover has no compassion for the happless cab drivers who park on Hunter St. because Gov. Inc. regulations have driven them to the point of starvation.
I bet he feeds the dog well, though.
Spy On Your Neighbor Program -The Nazi's had it too.
DHS preparing for domestic war?