A slightly maddening Miranda Spivak article about Prince George’s County reversing course and deciding to cap the number of taxis says that PG “is not the only jurisdiction in the region where officials are wrestling with how many taxis their community needs and how the industry should be regulated.”
It’s definitely true that other jurisdictions are considering creating more barriers to entry into the taxi market in order to protect the interests of incumbent cab drivers. But can we please not pretend that these proposals involve debating how many taxis a community needs? A city needs as many taxis as its residents and visitors want to pay for. Then the question arises of how many people are willing to drive cabs given the potential earnings involved. There’s no question, however, that in DC and PG County alike, there are additional people willing to try to earn a living driving taxis (the unemployment rate in the United States is quite high at the moment, as you’ve probably heard). The issue is that many incumbent cab drivers don’t to let them do it.
And I feel their pain! Here in the political blogging game, I’ve derived a lot of advantages from having been an early adopter. I would like nothing more than to further entrench that advantage by creating a medallion scheme limiting the total quantity of people allowed to write about public policy. And do we really “need” any extra bloggers? But that’s the wrong question to ask. We should have as many blogs as people want to read. We should have as many taxi drivers as people want to hire.