Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taxi Cartel

Here is a nice piece on the Milwaukee Taxi Cartel. Who is helped and who is hurt by the fact that no new taxi permits have been issued since 1992?
The city of Milwaukee capped the number of taxi permits at 321 way back in 1992, and consequently the price of a permit on the secondary market has risen to $150,000. That’s excellent news for people who made well-timed investments in Milwaukee taxis, but obviously it’s bad news for would-be taxi entrepreneurs who’d like to get into the market. Fewer permits means fewer jobs for cab drivers, and it means less access to taxis in the city. Dynamics of who uses taxis, what they cost, and where they’re available differ a lot from city to city and I’m not familiar with Milwaukee so I can’t say who in particular is disadvantaged by taxi scarcity but it’s not the sort of thing that helps a city’s quality of life or economy. Apparently the Institute of Justice, a libertarian law firm, thinks they have a chance of winning a legal argument that this is unconstitutional which I actually would find pretty surprising, but there’s no doubt that it’s bad policy. As I’ve noted before, when it comes to taxi cartels the proponents normally don’t even bother to make a public interest argument:

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