Thursday, March 29, 2012

The cabbie who is driving for liberty

How government, corporatism, perpetual patronage and rent seeking deprives folks of their right to earn a living. It's also a war on entrepreneurship which destroys competition and drives up the cost of everything. This amazing but not so shocking story might have a happy ending but the victim must win a court case recognizing his constitutional right to economic liberty.
Ali Bokhari, now 39, emigrated from Pakistan in 2000 and eventually settled here as a taxi driver. He soon experienced a quintessentially American itch, a nagging sense that “I cannot grow.” But he had an idea: “I can build a better business model for something Nashville has been missing.” He built it and now knows that no good deed goes unpunished by today’s political model — collusion between entrenched businesses and compliant government. Bokhari bought a black Lincoln sedan and began offering cut-rate rides — an average of $25 — to and from the airport, around downtown and in neighborhoods not well served by taxis. After one year he had 12 cars. Now he has 20, and 15 independent contractors with their own cars, and a Web site, and lots of customers. He also has some enemies, including the established taxi and sedan companies and a city government that is, as interventionist governments generally are, devoted to regulations that protect the strong by preserving the status quo. With the quiet support of the taxi companies, which have not raised rates since Bokhari and some similar entrepreneurs went into business, the limo companies got regulators to require a $45 minimum charge for any ride. Not content with that gross injury, government added crippling insults: It limited the age of cars and number of miles on them — regardless of the cars’ condition — and forbade dispatches via cellphones, which is how start-up limo companies operate. Represented by the Austin office of the Institute for Justice, the nation’s only libertarian public interest law firm, Bokhari is seeking judicial recognition of his constitutional right to economic liberty.
Read the rest here
The Washington Post