I have often thought that boards like the Metro Transportation Licensing Board often serve primarily as bureaucratic protectors of status quo commercial interests.
Take for example what happened today.
The Metro Transportation Licensing Commission today denied a series of requests that would have boosted the number of taxicabs buzzing around Nashville by 50 percent.
All but one of the four voting members agreed with a recommendation from the commission’s staff to deny the requests for a total of 285 new permits.
I’m a free market person. If an entrepreneuer is willing to put up the money required to start or expand his taxi business because he thinks that in the end he’ll be able to make even more money, then I say that as long as he doesn’t endanger public safety, then government should not stand in his way.
Here we had a half dozen entrepreneuers ask for a total of 285 new taxi licenses. That’s at least 285 new employees–not to mention, more money put into the Nashville economy for vehicles, radios, maintenance, insurance, rent, etc.
However, official Nashville said:
“No thanks. Even though we’re building all these new hotels, and all these condos downtown, and we’re trying to build a huge new convention center (and little new parking), we don’t want any additional cabs to try and reduce the vehicle footprint on the city.”
The only argument in the short Tennessean excerpt against the request was by cabbie Ermias Degefa, who said that “more cabs would have hurt his ability to make a living.”
Of course, the counter to that argument is that if government is protecting existing cabbies from competitive pressures, then Mr. Degefa’s pay is artificially high. Or to put it another way: consumers are paying more for a cab ride than they would in a free market.
All that being said, I’m willing to listen to what members of the Commission have to say about why they denied the additional licenses. Perhaps my free-market bias is obscuring something else out there that I might not be considering. Plus it might be helpful to know the backgrounds of the Commission members.
Now, if only we could get a blogger to help us get an inside view of the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission . . .