I have always had a soft spot for taxi drivers. Blame Harry Chapin. It is a tough way to make an average living. Long hours and, in Quebec, very expensive licenses – their price has soared to roughly $200,000 in Montreal, making its market worth roughly $900-million. Taxis are highly regulated by various agencies.
Unlike many of my friends south of the border, I like regulations. I like big government keeping an eye on things. That is why I am a huge fan of the democratic process; we get the government we deserve.
It seems patently unfair to me that men and women who make their living as taxi drivers, who pay the exorbitant fees, who toe the line regarding vehicle standards, who already face fierce competition should have to deal with amateurs working their turf.
If I bought a whole whack of cheap ground beef and a barbecue and set up business in front of a McDonald’s selling my wares at a discount price I would soon be hauled off by police. Licensed bar owners pay a heavy tax when they buy liquor to sell on their premises. They pay SOCAN fees that allow them to play recorded music without screwing artists. They pony up thousands of dollars for pay-per-view sports events, much more than private citizens. They are highly regulated.
So next time there is a big UFC bout I think I will set up a table outside a sports bar, get a bucket of ice and some plastic cups. I will drop by the liquor store and pick up a few bottles of hooch at the much lower private citizen price, then stop at the grocery store for some cases of beer. I could play some tunes on a portable stereo and sell my goods without the hassle and expense of regulation. Of course I would soon be hustled off.
After the price gouging debacle of last New Year’s Eve I am surprised there are still some who will use Uber at all.