We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

And do note that interesting little difference between London and New York. In NYC you must have a medallion to gain a taxi permit. The money from the restriction on the number of cabs flowed to those who owned the medallions, to those who controlled access. London Black Cabs were not so restricted – so it was the drivers who gained the higher incomes from the customers being screwed. But if we restrict the number of drivers with a middleman like Uber controlling the access then it’s going to be Uber – as with the medallions – who gains, not the drivers.

Seriously, this is nuts, Sadiq Khan really is proposing that Uber should have monopoly profits thrust upon it. And why the Hell is a Mayor of London proposing that? Evil or ignorant, your choice.

Tim Worstall

17 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • momo

    I also want to know what the level of “horrible” London black cabs and mini-cabs are.

    Because a large part of Uber/Lyft’s success in the US was that our taxis were god-awful. They refused to take credit cards (or had to call back to the office to do so). You didn’t know how much they would cost. The level of cleanliness was nonexistent. Yo
    uhad to plan f a ahead to get a cra, unless you were at a frebqently traveled locati(o ntie. bar area, airport)..
    Uber & Lyft do so well because they provide a far superior service.

  • bobby b

    But the opportunities for graft are so much higher when a private actor is both enriched and empowered by government! By setting up Uber as a rich monopoly that exists at his whim, Khan derives wonderful backscratching possibilities. How can a true politician pass up such a chance?

  • Sam Duncan

    Occam’s razor says he’s as dumb as a rock. But given his U-turn on allowing Uber to operate at all, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s suddenly recognized the opportunities for graft that bobby mentions (in other words, evil and a bit thick).

  • Eric Tavenner

    Embrace the power of AND!

  • Bruce

    There is an old saying about not ascribing to malice, that which is actually incompetence. It’s actually a nice ‘back-hander’, however…..

    It’s a government thing, so I nominate EVIL. Incompetence sometimes manages to do something right, somewhere, and if it does, you never hear the end of the self-congratulatory orgy.

    Battalions of tertiary-educated, elected and non-elected mandarins and they can only come up with the worst ideas in history, seemingly vying with one another to plumb new depths of the abyss.

    Your taxes at work, folks.

    As C. S. Lewis put it:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good, will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  • Mr Black

    People who are corrupted by power cannot conceive a situation of free exchange without someone being in charge of it, or being paid off from the profit of it. After all, that’s how everything works in their world.

  • Evil or ignorant, your choice.

    Why not both?

  • Richard Thomas

    The soft evil of unenlightened self-interest.

  • CaptDMO

    JIT (Just in Time) resource management.
    When not actually serving “suitable” fares, for the “profitable” sectors, what are medallion, and black cabs doing?
    Uber developed, and manages distribution of filling the gaping holes in the “public good” of transport.
    The inevitable “issues”, for both operators and clients, are being addressed.
    The “Tragedy of the Commons” looses out to budding entrepreneurs, with little room for sharp elbows
    of “auctioned” medallions, fraudulent meters and “routes”, and “stranded” riders.
    Naturally, once the heavy lifting of developing, and debugging Uber/Lyft are smoothed out , the parasitic rent-seeker vermin will be desperate for “their fair share” cut of the windfall apples.
    T’was ever thus.
    Garbage, concrete,booze,drugs,(actual)medical,entertainment(including sports), “union” labor,…..
    No doubt (eg)Uber/Lyft will continue to fall under siege as it addresses modern times with modern “puter/personal interface “lifestyle”, much as moveable type, education of Negros, and power looms were.
    Full Disclosure: 25 years ago, along with the “elite” of folks deemed “street savvy”, I was a big consumer of ILLEGAL black (the car, but quite often the driver as well) Gypsy Cabs and ring-up Car Service, when I wasn’t
    deftly circumventing “traditional” transportation venues in my own van.

  • llamas

    Mr Black wrote:

    ‘People who are corrupted by power cannot conceive a situation of free exchange without someone being in charge of it, or being paid off from the profit of it. After all, that’s how everything works in their world.’

    For the win.

    The bureaucrat’s lexicon does not contain the phrase ‘Not my business.’ They simply cannot comprehend the idea of free and unregulated exchange – in fact, of free and unregulated anything.

    This kind of thinking actually soaks across into the private sector, to the point where even private entities, who are not required to comply with any particular regulation on their activities, will create and impose their own rules on themselves, and then enforce them will all the zeal of the state bureaucrat.

    When my dear old Mum was widowed, she cast about for a hobby hat would keep her healthy and out in the fresh air, and she began to play golf. Come to find out, in the time and place she was doing this, she needed a licence – to play golf. I’m not kidding. She had to obtain a ‘golfvaardigsheitbewijs’ – a golfing proficiency licence – before she was allowed to play golf unsupervised. And the people who required this were private golf clubs – nobody forced them to do this. The innate urge to regulate – to record, to test, to verify, to permit, to license, to inspect, to limit, and just to generally bother people – was just too strong. Heaven forbid that somebody might hit a ball without a permit!

    Same here. Mayor Kahn simply can’t conceive of any activity, of any sort, taking place without oversight, regulation, taxing, licensing, and all the rest of it. It’s the default bureaucrat mindset – what does this new thing look like? Well, it kind-of looks like taxi service. Aha! We already have a taxi system! And we regulate that! Ergo, we must regulate this! Like a taxi system! Problem solved!
    So the regulatory system that was devised for horse-drawn cabs in the 1880s (really – that’s what the London taxicab system runs on. The regulatory body is the Public Carriage Office, the taxicabs are still registered as ‘hackney carriages’) is pulled out, dusted off, and shoehorned into place. Voila! No independent thought required.



  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, llamas. Very astute and well said.

  • Paul Marks

    Without a basic knowledge of the laws of supply and demand (the economics of the market place) policy is madness – evil madness.

    But why expect a socialist Mayor to understand the principles of supply and demand? After all the “Conservative” Prime Minster does not have a clue about such things – almost every day there is a suggestion from the government that flies in the face of the basic economics of the market.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The bureaucrat’s lexicon does not contain the phrase ‘Not my business.’

    This is so true. It is a pity that the lifeblood of industry in this country is small businesses, and by small I don’t mean the UK definition of “SME”, I mean a handful of people, mostly one person, doing their trade.

    The Conservative Party is transfixed on big business, that they can regulate, and the Labour Party wants more public services under government control, there is literally no-one standing up for the one-man bands of the country that keep us afloat.

    Under many of the big enterprises are a collection of qualified individuals, major service companies frequently use freelancers. For them, there is no requirement to commit under the company banner, and subsequently the consequences of not having holiday, sickness, guaranteed work, etc, so it is not a great choice but one many people are willing to take nevertheless.

    Every time there is some form of new regulation or taxation it is the one-man operations that suffer the most. The big business can suck up expenses or tax increases without a problem and the public sector is exempt, just ignores them, or gets someone else to pay for it.

    The Tories and the Left hate the single operators – and it shows.

  • Duncan S

    In Scotland, you have to get a licence to be a window cleaner . Thus preventing any enterprising young person from getting their first foot on the job ladder (no pun intended).

    I live in a part of Scotland that is attractive to tourists, and I have a couple of spare bedrooms. Thirty years ago, I would have been able to just shove a sign up at the bottom of the drive and open a B&B. Now I would have to inform the council, possibly apply to planning control, get certified by the fire service, pass a food safety test, etc, etc, bloody etc. Unsurprisingly I don’t run a B&B and we have very few B&B establishments in my area. And with few hotels in the area, we struggle to attract holiday-makers in the middle and upper income bracket.

    Yet the council, visit scotland, etc seem clueless as to why we can’t expand our tourist numbers.

  • Paul Marks

    The basic principle of licensing is that it a “crime” to conduct a trade or profession without a piece of paper called a “license” or “permit” – this is repugnant to the Common Law, which holds that only an attack (by force or fraud) upon the body or property of another can be considered a crime.

    Hat tip to Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke, the case of Dr Bonham (1610).

    Remember it was NOT just the King who said Mr Bonham could not practice medicine without a license – so did an Act of Parliament. An Act of Parliament DE FACTO made void by the judgement.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . the case of Dr Bonham . . . “

    Dumb question:

    My training tells me that Bonham’s Case was highly disputed when announced, was given little weight in subsequent jurisprudence, never resulted in any legislation being overturned, and was fairly quickly overruled and cast aside.

    Yet several people here (and elsewhere) cite to it as if it were an important and foundational point in English law.

    Why do people consider it to be important? Is it simply that it was a correct decision that should have held sway?