Free Markets, Free People

Check The Sky For Flying Pigs

Because this actually happened:

In response to Uber ride-sharing drivers now working in the city, the [Portsmouth, NH] Taxi Commission on Wednesday recommended the elimination of taxi medallions, regulation of taxi fares, city taxi inspections and the Taxi Commission itself.
The commission voted unanimously to send a memo to the City Council outlining its recommendations to lift many regulations currently imposed on drivers-for-hire. The council will be asked to instruct City Attorney Robert Sullivan to rewrite the city’s taxi ordinance to reflect the following changes:
* Recognize so-called ride-sharing services offered by platforms including Uber.
* Replace the current taxi medallion system with a registration process that would require all drivers to register with the city clerk’s office and provide proof of commercial insurance.
* Require the Police Department to conduct criminal background checks on all registered drivers, who would be charged a fee for the background checks.
* Require all drivers-for-hire to sign and adhere to a code of conduct.

That’s right. The Taxi Commission voted, unanimously, to end its own existence. I honestly don’t know if that has ever happened before. And if it has has, it was a very long time ago.

[Taxi Commissioner Larry] Cataldo said if drivers are smoking, or offering rides in unkempt vehicles, consumers will decide if they want to hire them. Under the proposal, police would continue to conduct background checks of registered drivers who would also have to provide proof that their passengers are insured for a minimum of $300,000 under a commercial policy.

Several commissioners compared the proposed deregulation of taxi fares to the fact that someone can buy a glass of beer for $4 at a downtown pub and pay $8 for a glass of the same beer at a nearby restaurant.

“I guess it’s going to come down to what consumers want to do,” said Lt. Chris Cummings, the Police Department’s liaison to the Taxi Commission.

Novel concept, huh?

Just to put this in perspective, local officials, who are often the source of particularly pernicious intrusions into our personal lives, have agreed to give up power in favor of consumer choice. Power that can be lucrative in the form of kickbacks, favoritism, and political brokering. Yet, this body of politicians decided that what was best for their constituents was to put in place simple rules and disband itself. That’s just … amazing.

Of course, don’t go hunkering down in your pig blind any time too soon. The ordinary state of affairs looks like this:

After being a promised a blizzard of historic and catastrophic proportions on Monday, New York City residents woke up today to rather meager snow totals and a lot of questions for their public officials.

[…]

The focus, in particular, seems to be about the decision to shut down New York City at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night. All roads in the region (not just in the city, but in Connecticut and New Jersey, as well) were closed to non-emergency traffic, but Governor Andrew Cuomo also made the unprecedented decision to preemptively shut down the entire NYC subway system. That’s never happened in the 100-plus years of the subways due to snow.

Yet, by 11:00 p.m., it was already becoming clear that such a move was likely going to be unnecessary. That confusion quickly turned to outrage after a report by The Brooklyn Paper that the subway was actually still running. In order to keep the power on and the tracks clear, the MTA continued to shuttle empty trains all throughout the system and was planning to all along. It was apparently Cuomo’s decision to shut the system to passengers, a move that caught MTA off guard and appeared to be unnecessary.

Naturally, some people are upset about the overreaction. It’s one thing to clear the streets of cars, but the subway is the lifeline of the city, particularly for those people who work third-shift jobs or have family and friends in other boroughs. Cries of “nanny state”-ism, political posturing, or just plain cowardice are ringing out today.

Ace describes it this way:

So, now it’s accepted that government officials will essentially declare Martial Law on a whim. Martial Law has become mainstreamed, thanks to our viciously incompetent media.

[…]

These high-handed, alarmist, panicky, lawless actions are being defended on grounds of “safety.”

This is not an overblown statement: All forms of fascism and totalitarianism proceed under the guise of securing the public’s “safety and security.” I don’t think you can cite a single time where fascism did not ride upon twin horses named Public Safety and Public Security.

We seem to becoming jaded by frequent assertions of dictatorial power for this claimed emergency or that imagined crisis.

And let us be clear about things: Cuomo did not do this to “protect the public safety.” He did this to protect his own political safety.

Let us stop pretending to believe the most ridiculous lies of politicians. Let us start dealing forthrightly with one another.

Hearkening back to the Boston Bomber manhunt, he’s not that far off. The question, as always, is how much will the citizenry put up with, and at what point do they stop acting like sheep in the face of “do as we command; it’s for your own good!”

At least in Portsmouth, NH, they’re getting a chance to decide for themselves what’s in their own interests. Let’s hope that catches on.

(h/t: Instapundit)

~ MJW
Twitter: @mjwadeesq

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9 Responses to Check The Sky For Flying Pigs

  • Just to put this in perspective, local officials, who are often the source of particularly pernicious intrusions into our personal lives, have agreed to give up power in favor of consumer choice.

    Well, kinda. One of the cardinal notions of Conservatives is that local government is better government as a GENERALIZATION. And there are, of course, some organic reasons that would TEND to be true.

    You or I can actually hope to talk to a local official face-to-face. I have NO hope of meeting with Barracula, and very little hope of having any significant interaction with my congressman.

    On the local level, what comes as a consequence of a government action is readily connected to the action, and we can more easily compare the advertised ends with the actual outcomes.

    Not surprisingly, as a given government becomes bigger (i.e., New York City) AND more dominated by Collectivist doctrine and support, it becomes more intractable and MUCH less responsible for what it does. Consequences are muddled with “good intentions” instead of being contrasted with them.

    I heard an apologist for New York’s hysterical nonsense over Snowzilla offer the cliched crap we often hear from Gorbal Warm-mongers; “Over-preparation is better than under-preparation”. Well, no it isn’t always. Sometimes, as here, it is VASTLY more costly in every possible sense, including the cost to the rule of, and respect for, law.

    One BIG take-away from this is that the MORE Collectivist the government, the MORE prone they are to use any given event…like a snow-storm in the NE…as a pretext to go where they naturally WANT to go, AND to show how they really feel about “the people”.

  • Keep in mind that they built the NYC subways in response to the Blizzard of 1888, when above ground traffic got caught in the winds and snow resulting in over 200 deaths.

    • BUT the “they” who built the subways were private people.

      PLUS the 1888 buggy or drayage wagons left a lot of creature comfort to be desired…or invented.

      AND this is the FIRST time (I read) in NYC history the subways have been shut down. Which is just nucking futz.

  • I can only believe Uber paid off the Commission under the table beyond their wildest dreams.

    • You mean as opposed to other people paying off the Commission under the table beyond their wildest dreams, yes?

      If that’s all it took to get these people to take their fingers out of the pie and shut down their particular government department I’d sign up for helping out.
      I kinda like honest crooks that you only need to buy once instead of the ones we have in Washington who demand their buyoff year after year after year.

    • If I assumed that NEVER happens, you’d rightly call me naive to the point of being out of touch with reality.

      If you assume that ALWAYS happens…