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TAXICAB TYRANNY: Why Are Republicans Supporting Protectionist Policies And Higher Taxes?

Monday, November 26, 2012
posted by Brian Brady

Free market competition fosters the highest quality products for the lowest possible consumer costs.  Republicans from the most local of volunteer precinct captains to the the Speaker of the House hold this tenet to be true.  Republicans decry centralized planning boards, death panels, executive orders, and TARP bailouts of banks.  But what happens when Republican elected officials engage in the same practice they decry?

We call federal policies, of restricting consumer choice in the light bulb industry  tyranny,  but when it comes to taxicabs, local Republican officials are doing the same exact thing.

Like in Escondido.  Newly elected Assembly member Marie Waldron sponsored an ordinance to restrict competition in the taxicab industry.  While she wasn’t present to vote on the ordinance, support for this measure came from Republican Mayor Sam Abed and Council member Ed Gallo.  Gallo arrogantly defended this practice of rotarian socialism:

Gallo said it was a “nuisance” to have a cabdriver talking during a trip even if it was on a hands-free device, adding that it complicates efforts by passengers to give directions to the driver.

Well Ed, I suppose that the EPA apparatchiks think it’s a nuisance,  that incandescent light bulbs have a shorter life than the compact fluorescent light bulbs, but more choices in the marketplace are good.  Even in the taxi cab marketplace.  Moreover, it is not the role of local elected officials, to impose their personal preferences on the rest of the consumers.

It’s not just the Republicans in Escondido who are practicing rotarian socialism.  Every single Republican on the Oceanside City Council, except Gary Felien, voted to micromanage the taxi cab industry in Oceanside, restricting competition and ultimately driving up consumer costs.  Jerry Kern, Jim Wood, and Jack Feller all supported this anti-consumer measure.  Even more disconcerting, the Oceanside Republicans raised business taxes on the surviving taxi cabs:

Fees for cabs also were raised by the council to reflect what city officials said was the cost of reviewing applications and inspecting cabs.  The initial application fee was raised from $25 to $475 and the annual renewal fee was raised from $160 to $360.

This is not good news for the Republican brand.  Republicans either stand for less taxes and less regulations or we don’t.  In Escondido and Oceanside, it seems obvious that…Republicans don’t.

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3 Responses to “TAXICAB TYRANNY: Why Are Republicans Supporting Protectionist Policies And Higher Taxes?”

  1. Bernard King (@BernardKingIII) says:

    There is an interesting legal back story to the recent flurry of municipal regulations for the taxicab industry.

    Prior to 1980, taxicab drivers in California were largely considered to be employees, and were unionized. In the 1980s, taxicab companies sought to avoid the hassle of dealing with the unions by reclassifying the taxicab drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Instead of turning over their fares to the taxicab company and being paid a wage, now the drivers turn over “lease payments” and get to keep anything they make above their lease rate.

    Eventually, courts got wise to the “independent contractor” classification and in the early 1990s, two California Court of Appeal decisions ruled that taxicab drivers ostensibly classified as “independent contractors” were in fact employees, entitled to the benefits of workers’ compensation and unemployment/disability insurance.

    These decisions obviously posed a threat to the independent contractor model prevailing in the industry. Then in 1997, another decision from the California Court of Appeal ruled that a worker was not an employee where the putative employer was only controlling his worker’s compliance with governmental regulations.

    The taxicab industry seized on this decision, and began lobbying municipal governments to enact extensive taxicab ordinances that regulated every minute detail of their driver’s work. Thus, the taxicab companies could continue to control their drivers as if they were employees, while simultaneously claiming that such control did not support an employment relationship because they were merely enforcing governmental regulations.

    As a result, many cities in California have enacted micro-managing taxicab regulations.

    At the end of the day, the tangled web of taxicab regulations, employment statutes and judicial opinions is just another unintended consequence of the Legislature’s misguided decision to severely restrict the freedom of an employee to contract with an employer on terms that both parties find mutually agreeable.

  2. Brian Brady Brian Brady says:

    Thanks Bernard. That’s good background

  3. Ken Danagger says:

    Simplify taxicab regulations to reflect Department of Transportation regulations on commercial truck drivers. IE hours, and vehicle maintenance. This should lower operating costs that can be passed on to the consumers. Many seniors living on fixed incomes rely on taxicabs for living necessities. Do they not vote en mass?

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