Union Cabbies want you to wait Longer for a Ride

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 19th, 2014

Week in Review

Today there is an app for everything.  Have smartphone will travel.  Literally.  Unless, that is, union cabbies want to make you stand in the rain/snow and cold for an hour in a bad neighborhood (see Why a taxi driver protest turned violent in Paris by Dylan Stableford posted 1/14/2014 on Yahoo! News).

The attacks by striking cab drivers on Uber cars in Paris on Monday — with protesters shattering windows, smashing mirrors and slashing tires — appear to be the first violent clashes in the ongoing battle between local cabbies and app-based car services.

But tensions, in Paris and elsewhere, have been brewing for months. Cab drivers say Uber and apps like it, which allow customers to hitch rides nearly instantly from their smartphones, create unfair competition and undermine the traditional cab-hailing business…

In Portland, Ore., Uber has urged lawmakers to change an ordinance requiring town cars to wait an hour before picking up would-be passengers.

In Paris, a “15-minute law” went into effect on Jan. 1, requiring all Uber drivers to wait 15 minutes after a request is placed to pick up a passenger — a move aimed at leveling the competition for traditional Parisian cabbies.

Nonetheless, hundreds of unionized cab drivers participated in Monday’s protests in Paris, demanding a 30-minute delay, minimum fares and a driver recruitment ban. At least 12 Uber cars were targeted, according to local reports.

Imagine that.  Because someone else found a better way to do things union cabbies want new laws to prevent that better way.  They want to make a person wait for an hour before anyone picks them up.  An Uber car could be around the corner when they get the request.  They could drive around the corner and pick this person up within three minutes.  But if the union cabbies get their way the Uber car will have to sit there for an hour before moving.  To give a union cabbie a chance to drive by and get hailed.  Leaving that person in the rain or snow.  Or in a bad neighborhood.  Just standing there.  Vulnerable.  Just so someone providing a poorer service can get his or her business.

This is the difference between free market capitalism and crony capitalism.  In free market capitalism the consumer is number one.  And gets the highest quality at the lowest price.  In crony capitalism unions, businesses and government are number one.  For they are cronies and look out for each other.  At the expense of the consumer.  Who gets lower quality and higher prices.  As unions, businesses and governments collude together to enrich themselves by forcing people to pay more for less.

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The Most Expensive City will be Getting More Expensive as New York City raises Taxi and Limo Fares

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 15th, 2012

Week in Review

One of the most expensive cities to live in just got more expensive.  Or will get more expensive this September (see Cost of riding New York City taxi to jump 17 percent by Joseph O’Leary posted 7/12/2012 on Reuters).

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a 17 percent fare hike on Thursday, said Alan Fromberg, a spokesman for the commission. The change will take effect in September.

Gas prices are falling.  Because the economy is so bad.  Unemployment is stuck at 8.2%.  No one is spending money.  Few are packing the families into their cars for a long vacation.  As the rising food costs are taking a larger portion of family budgets.  One of the few areas improvements in productivity isn’t keeping inflation at bay.  Still, inflation is in the low single digits.  So with the horrible economic picture, the fall in gasoline prices and the relatively low inflation rate why are they raising fares by 17%?  For all of the above.

New York City is one of the highest tax locales in the country.  And when economic activity falls so does tax revenue.  The city is hemorrhaging money.  Because it’s a city dominated by public sector workers.  And public sector unions.  Who consume enormous amounts of tax revenue.  Raising taxi and limo fares raises taxi and limo company profits.  Which increases income tax revenue.  And it increases drivers’ incomes.  Which increases income tax revenue.  That is, as long as ridership doesn’t fall.  Which it may.  For this is yet one more reason not to go to New York City.  It’s just so costly to visit.  For once there you will be visiting the ATM early.  And often.  Especially if you travel by taxi.

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Roaring Twenties, Farmers, Mechanization, Smoot-Hawley Tariff, Stock Market Crash, Great Depression and Taxi Medallions

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 12th, 2012

History 101

The New Economic Reality of Farming was that we needed Fewer Farmers in the Age of Mechanization

The Roaring Twenties was a decade of solid, real economic growth.  The world modernized during the Twenties.  Electric power, telephone, radio, motion pictures, air travel, etc.  So much of what we take for granted today became a reality during the Roaring Twenties.  But there was a downside.  Farmers borrowed money to mechanize their farms.  As farms mechanized they produced great crop yields.  Bringing bumper crops to market.  There was so much food brought to market that prices plummeted.  Reducing farm incomes so much that they couldn’t service the debt they incurred to mechanize their farms.  They defaulted.  Causing banks to fail.

By the late Twenties all the European farmers who fought in World War I were back on the farm.  And were feeding Europe again.  So not only were the Americans producing bumper crops they were losing a large export market.  Forcing farm prices down further.  There were simply more farmers than the economy was demanding thanks to the new efficiencies in farming.  But because there were so many farmers they were an important political constituency.  They were still casting a lot of votes.  So the politicians stepped in.  With a complete disregard to economic principles.  And tried to help the farmers.  With rent-seeking policies.

The farmers were hurting.  So they wanted to transfer some wealth from the masses to the farmers.  As in rent-seeking.  As opposed to profit-seeking.  Instead of creating wealth (profit-seeking) they were transferring wealth (rent-seeking).  And they did this with price supports.  They raised the price of their crops above market value.  Forcing Americans to make sacrifices in their lives so they could afford to pay higher food prices to help the farmers.  So the farmers wouldn’t have to adjust to the new economic reality of farming.  We need fewer farmers in the age of mechanization.  But it just didn’t end with higher prices.  The government would buy excess food grown by these ‘too many farmers’ and destroy it.  Or pay farmers NOT to grow food.  Then they took it up a notch.  And slapped tariffs on imported food.  Further raising the price of food.

In an Effort to raise Farming Prices the Rent-Seekers caused the Great Deflation of the Great Depression

Food tariffs were just one part of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.  This act pretty much raised the tariff on everything the U.S. imported.  Greatly increasing the cost of all imports.  To protect the domestic producers from cheap foreign competition.  But there was a problem with increasing the cost of all imports.  It increased the price of whatever we built with those imports.  So much so that when they were discussing this act in Congress businesses across America knew the boom of the Twenties would end.  As did investors investing in these companies.  So even before the bill became law it caused a huge stock selloff.  Which led to the stock market crash of 1929. 

At first the higher prices helped American businesses.  Their revenue increased.  Everyone thought the tariff act was a success.  But as prices went up costs went up throughout the manufacturing pipeline.  Prices grew so high that people stopped buying.  Inventories accumulated so they cut production.  And then laid people off en masse.  Causing a great recession.  Then further rent-seeking solutions (more governmental intervention into the free market) turned that recession into the Great Depression.  What started out as a problem for overly efficient farmers turned into a national crisis.  In an effort to raise farming prices they caused the great deflation of the Great Depression.  As prices fell so did revenues.  Making it very difficult to service debt.  More people defaulted on their debt.  And more banks failed.

When the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act became law our trading partners answered in kind.  Leading to a great trade war.  So on top of everything else what limited export markets we had shut down as well.  As the trade barriers went up economic activity decreased.  David Ricardo’s Comparative Advantage worked in reverse.  Increasing opportunity costs.  When international markets closed less efficient domestic industries took their place.  Pulling resources from more efficient uses.  Raising the cost of those resources.  Adding these cost increases on top of the tariffs.  Which further increased prices.  And further lowered economic activity.  Adding further woe onto the Great Depression.

The Medallion System dates back to the Medieval Guilds and Restricts Entry into the Cabbie Market

As the Great Depression languished on few people filled the streets of New York City (NYC).  At least few people with money who had to go places.  There were more cabs than people needed.  Supply exceeded demand.  Putting a downward pressure on taxi fares.  And increasing the time a cabbie had to work to earn some decent money.  Usually the market steps in and corrects such a situation.  Forcing some cabbies out of the cabbie business.  But not in NYC.  There they used the power of government to address this surplus of supply.  And introduced the medallion system.

This was the kind of rent seeking that dated back to those medieval guilds.  The medallion restricted entry into the cabbie market.  By limiting the number of cabs in NYC.  Every cab (at least those who can pick up passengers who hail a cab at the curb) must have a medallion permanently affixed to their cab.  Which they must purchase from the city.  Or transfer from another cab.  Currently, if you want to drive a taxi cab in NYC you better have some deep pockets.  Or have the kind of credit that lets you get a very large mortgage.  For the medallion system exists to this day.  And that medallion may cost you close to a half million dollars.

If you ever wondered why it sometimes takes so long to hail a cab in NYC this is the reason.  Rent-seeking.  As in the medallion system.  Which works just like tariffs.  Reducing supply.  And increasing prices for consumers.  So the rent-seekers can use the power of government to transfer wealth.  Instead of using innovation to create wealth.  And bringing that wealth to the market place to trade.  Instead they choose to take more wealth from the market place than they bring to it.  With the help of government.  And their rent-seeking policies.  Thus reducing overall wealth in the economy.  Which reduces economic activity.  And does nothing to help lift an economy out of recession.  Or out of a Great Depression. 

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #38: “Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 2nd, 2010

If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit; even if O.J. Simpson did it.

A lie is a lie.  No matter how well you say it.  Or how often you say it.  O.J. Simpson has said over and over that he didn’t kill his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.  Or her friend, Ronald Goldman.  Few believe him.  Even Oprah Winfrey told Mark Furman recently on her talk show that Simpson did it. And she’s no racist.  She even endorsed Barack Obama for president.  And he’s black.

But if you repeat the lie enough people will believe it.  The Simpson jury apparently believed it.  And they believed Furman was a racist and that he lied under oath.  But Furman is no more a racist than you are.  And although he was a pretty good detective, he actually forgot a thing or two he said in his past.  Like using the ‘n’ word during an interview with a writer who was working on a screenplay about cops.  A recording surfaced during the trial where Furman did in fact make some pretty nasty racial slurs.  But it was probably more bravado than racism.  A young cop trying to sound like a tough and gritty L.A. cop in front of a screenwriter.  Besides, Furman was a Marine.  And Marines aren’t racists.  ‘Nuff said.

Anyway, armed with that, the defense repeated the lie that racist mark Furman planted the infamous bloody glove that did not fit.  The shrunken leather glove that didn’t fit Simpson’s gloved hand.  “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”  And they did.  Simpson went free, though he’s in jail now for other crimes (armed robbery and kidnapping).  And Furman pleaded no contest to perjury.  The only criminal sentence in the Simpson/Goldman murders.  And very sad testament to the L.A. criminal law system.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  Anita Hill cried wolf.

President Bill Clinton looked into the camera and wagged his finger at America.  “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  But the infamous blue dress begged to differ.  In some people’s world, playing with each other’s genitals and climaxing on someone may not be sexual relations.  But you’re not going to do any of that with a hooker unless you pay for it.  And what do hookers do?  They sell ‘sexual relations’.

Clinton did, in fact, lie.  Though to this day he still says what he said was not untrue.  He can say that all he wants but the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct says otherwise.  They suspended his license to practice law because they say he lied about Monica Lewinsky.  Makes one wonder about all those other denials about sexual misconduct with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Perdue, Dolly Kyle Browning, etc.  He denies the allegations.  But then again, he also denied the Lewinsky allegation. 

Then there was Clarence Thomas.  During his confirmation hearings, the Democrats brought in Anita Hill to testify.  She alleged inappropriate behavior.  Nothing illegal, but inappropriate.  And they gave him a full-blown public anal exam during his confirmation hearing.  Because Hill cried wolf.  There was no substantive proof.  Just some wild-ass allegations.  Of which he was all of a sudden guilty until proven innocent.  The feminist stood tall with Anita Hill.  But nary a one came to the defense of the Clinton women.  Even after the infamous blue dress.  They all stood by their man.  Bill Clinton.  Misogyny and all.  (And the allegations against Clarence Thomas were nowhere close to ‘blue dress’ level).

Pragmatist liberals lie to impose their liberal agenda because the ends justify the means.

Everybody lies.  It’s the degree of the lie, though, that matters.  And the reason.  Militant feminists, for example, will accept and perpetuate any lie to protect a ‘feminist’ man.  Any by a ‘feminist’ man I mean one who will be a staunch supporter of Roe vs. Wade and abortion in general (which they feared Clarence Thomas was not).  And lying in court is especially useful.  As the character Louie DePalma (played by Danny DeVito) illustrated so well in the TV show Taxi.  When Alex Rieger (played by Judd Hirsch) asked Louie if he knew what it meant to lie under oath in a court of law.  Louie replied, “Yeah, it means they gotta believe whatever you say.”

Some liars are just trying to stay out of trouble.  Or jail.  Others, though, are people who lie for another reason.  They’ll fabricate or sustain a lie for a ‘higher’ purpose.  We call these people pragmatists.  These people believe the ends justify the means.  And if the ‘ends’ are important enough, then any means employed are justified.  Liberals are pragmatists.  They have specific ends in mind.  They want legal abortion.  Universal health care.  More government.  Less free markets.  Etc.  And because only approximately 20% of Americans want the same thing, they have to tell a few lies to impose their liberal agenda.

Ronald Reagan was senile.  George W. Bush is stupid.  Sarah Palin is stupid and inexperienced.  Rush Limbaugh is a hate monger.  Glenn Beck is a fear monger.  Members of the Tea Party are a bunch of racists.  Business owners oppress their employees.  Republicans hate the poor.  And hate gays and lesbians.  Hate minorities.  Hate women.  And hate just about anyone liberals have a vested interest in.  Or so the liberal lies go.  Over and over and over again.

The 20% (liberal Democrats) try to rule the 80% (center-right America) with an able assist from the mainstream media, university professors, celebrities and activist judges.

America is a center-right country.  That means liberal Democrats are in the minority.  Which means they can’t impose their agenda at the voting booth.  They can’t legislate their liberal agenda.   So they lie to build a coalition.  To try to pull independents and moderates to their cause.  You know the lies.  Republicans will force women into back alleys for abortions.  Republicans want to defund Social Security.  Republicans will bring back Jim Crowe laws (which, ironically, Democrats put into law).  Republicans want to transfer the tax burden from the rich to the poor.  Etc.

And they have willing accomplices.  Though they are only 20% of the population, they are a very strategically located 20%.  They’re in the mainstream media.  They teach at our universities.  They star in our favorite movies and TV shows.  They perform our favorite music.  And they sit in our courts (what they can’t legislate in Congress, they legislate from the bench).  It’s a small 20%.  But they have a hell of a bully pulpit.  And they use that bully pulpit with extreme prejudice.

And then you have the politicians themselves.  Who will tell any lie.  Smear any character.  For they feel untouchable.  Because they write and enforce the laws.  They ARE the law.  And they think like Louis DePalma.  That the truth doesn’t matter.  Because the people gotta believe whatever they say.  Or should.  Because they are the law.  But we, the other 80%, know they lie.  The DePalma analogy still fits, though.  We see the typical liberal Democrat as a lying, corrupt, despicable scoundrel, lacking any vestiges of integrity who enrich themselves at the expense of the people they serve.  And who can’t see Louis DePalma in that?

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