Taxicab operators are complaining, and in some cases even taking to the streets to protest, about unfair competition from people selling rides through Uber, Lyft and similar services.

Lost in the howling is the reality that in most cities taxis are a government-sponsored cartel, which maintains artificially high prices, shortage of service (especially when it rains), and of course poor quality of service with dirty cabs and surly drivers. The beneficiaries of the cartel are usually the owners of taxi licenses, who often don’t even own taxis, let alone drive them, and the municipal politicians and bureaucracies that they support. In New York, for example, a taxi license (medallion) is worth well over $1 million which value represents the excess profits from the monopoly rents.

Uber and Lyft must be providing better service or they would not flourish as they clearly have done. Three cheers for their chipping away at a minor piece of the political corruption that chokes our economy.

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