Once again, I wonder whether my friends at Reason TV have chosen wisely in their Nanny of the Month. It’s a tough call, but I would have chosen the city that busted a little girl for selling lemonade — or maybe the other city that busted a little girl for selling vegetables. (Did I miss where we’ve had a wave of anti-social little girls to such an extent that cities have to watch them this closely?) Instead, Reason chose Quincy, Illinois police chief Rob Copley for busting a guy who, er, gave free rides to drunks so they wouldn’t drive. No, seriously:
Well, it certainly looks pretty stupid to conduct an undercover sting investigation into a man who charges nothing to prevent drunk driving in his community. However, there is a little more to this than Reason allows. I assume that cab drivers in Quincy have to get permits and licenses as they do in most other cities in the US, which usually restrict the number of permits available. That constitutes a big investment for these cabbies and their firms, and in return the cities crack down on unlicensed cabbies to keep them from competing with those who ignore the law. As long as the driver didn’t take tips, they didn’t have any reason to complain (even if he still ate into their market), but when he started taking revenue from the activity, it ceased being a volunteer effort and turned into a commercial enterprise.
Reason dislikes permit laws for cab drivers, and for some good reasons, but this inordinately influenced their choice, I believe. If Quincy forces cab drivers to pay for licenses and permits, they should enforce those laws to prevent lawbreakers from conducting commerce in that space until the laws get changed. On this point, all three stories are really the same, but this was the only case that involved someone over the age of eight, who presumably knows enough to comply with the law. At least we can agree that all three were wastes of time and taxpayer money.