by Walter E. Williams
If a person wants to go into business as a taxicab owner, what requirements should be imposed to protect the public? The prospective taxicab owner should show that he is honest and can operate a vehicle safely. His vehicle should pass a safety inspection, and he should have a liability insurance policy. Some cities require the purchase of an existing license, sometimes called a medallion. A medallion has cost as much as over $1 million, as in the case of New York City, and the cost has reached $700,000 in Boston and $360,000 in Chicago. There is no public protection interest served by forcing a person to go into debt to purchase a taxi medallion, but doing so does serve an interest.
Before we talk about that, let’s look at some good news for prospective taxi owners. The Arlington, Virginia-based Institute for Justice is a nonprofit libertarian public interest law firm that has been on the forefront in the fight for economic liberty for 2 1/2 decades. During that time period, it has piled up numerous victories. The most recent is its Oct. 7 win in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued two groundbreaking decisions that will help cities to sweep aside protectionist transportation regulations in order to make way for new entrepreneurs.