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RANT: Metropolitan Taxicab Commission Is Killing Capitalism
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So how to reenergize the innovation diffusion machine? This is key: “A level playing field that does not favour incumbents over entrants. Many policy measures, from environmental to fiscal measures, are designed to favour incumbents.” More entry through startups and more exit by uncompetitive incumbents.

–JAMES PETHOKOUKIS, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE

The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission is a crony club for taxi company executives and their hospitality friends, and its primary purpose is to kill transportation innovation and thwart price competition.

The MTC blocked uberX drivers from ferrying drunks home on July 4th weekend. Because free uber rides would take a nickel out of the pocket of a bunch of fat, wealthy crony capitalists.

I’m sick of it. We scream about the Export Import Bank and Congress, but St. Louis is like the Triple A farm club for crony capitalism. And St. Louis will continue to decay and decline until we foster competition, innovation, and a level playing field for insurgents.

Kim Tucci, MTC commissioner, says the MTC has to protect the public. Safety. But he didn’t protect the public from a Harris Cab that crippled a man—a Harris Cab that didn’t have insurance.

 

I call bullshit, Mr. Tucci. MTC doesn’t protect the public. It protects your vested interests. It protects your crony friends. It protects entrenched incumbents by thwarting new entrants into the market.

It’s time to make the MTC an elected board, along with every other board and commission in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Any government body that has the power to destroy innovation and kill the American job engine should be subject to an election.

In the meantime, I want to see each member of the MTC publicly state his position on uber and the financial cost to him and his company if uberX is allowed to operate in St. Louis city and county. Then we’ll know the real reason MTC is blocking uberX: to protect their fat, wealthy wallets.

Did you know the MTC wouldn’t even accept uberX comments via email? In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen, the MTC can’t figure out how to open a damn Gmail account! And we trust these people with a commission?

Cronyism is a key reason St. Louis declined in new business formation. It’s the reason America is averaging 0.6 percent GDP growth since 2010. It’s one reason St. Louis is a dying city.

As the Wall Street Journal explains:

One key reason appears to be that the process of “creative destruction” identified by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter as essential to capitalism’s dynamism appears to have lost some of its ferocity. In the OECD’s words, “market selection is weak.” One reason for that is government policy, which the OECD said favors incumbents across a whole range of areas, from regulations designed to protect the environment, to taxation. As a result, older firms that suffer from low productivity growth endure, often “trapping” workers in jobs for which they are over qualified.

And Tucci wants us to ignore St. Louis’s job flight, crime growth, decay, cronyism, and population losses. Yeah, let’s ignore all the failings of all the boards and commissions Kim Tucci has run, and pretend we don’t have room for the all businesses wanting to move to St. Louis.

Pathetic.

Look, I realize St. Louis has great virtues. I came back here after 10 years away in the Navy. But when the people who’ve presided over St. Louis’s decline want us to whistle a happy tune and shoot rainbows out our butts, it’s to distract us from the miserable jobs they’re doing.

Well, I’m not distracted, Mr. Tucci. I’m watching.

And I’m authorizing uber to use my name to pressure the MTC.

And we are working on a Transportation Empowerment Event to discuss issues like ride-sharing, highway funds, and the future of transportation. (Watch this blog for details.)

In the meantime, fight cronyism everywhere you see it.

  • Dan HYatt

    I have an idea…. lets start a petition to put on the ballot that the taxi commission shall not regulate web based ride shares.

    I was in Atlanta and UBER was great cabs sucked…and UBER was half the price

    • I travel a lot and use uber everywhere. In San Francisco, about half of the uberX drivers I’ve met are former taxicab drivers. They list numerous ways uber is better than cabs:
      1. Make more money with less risk
      2. Make their own hours
      3. Some control over income
      4. It costs nothing to take a day off–or be sick
      5. Passengers are happier, safer, and cleaner
      6. Uber drivers can focus on customer satisfaction, not company policy
      7. “I meet my customers and get to know them. Taxi customers hate drivers.”

      I know, small sample and anecdotal. But the point is clear: the market wants uber and a commission of taxicab profiteers have the power to screw over St. Louis.

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