Unrepentant Unlicensed Taxi Driver: “There's absolutely nothing wrong with what I do.”

In his book The Right to Earn a Living, public interest attorney Timothy Sandefur explains how taxi licensing laws are just one of the many arbitrary and unnecessary types of regulation that restrict economic liberty while enriching special interests. Writing today at the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog, Sandefur highlights an extraordinary story from Aspen, Colorado where a man named Phil Sullivan just spent over a week in jail for operating an unlicensed taxi. And as Sullivan told The Aspen Times, he refuses to accept the idea that he did anything wrong:

There is absolutely nothing that I can think of that's wrong with what I do. I drive a car, I've got a license, I'm insured. There's nothing wrong with that. I pick up people. I've been picking them up for years and years, strangers and friends, not only in Aspen but in the streets of Chicago and the streets of Stockton, Ill., etc., and I take them where I want to go and I've had nice times talking to them and I take them to their destination. I generally help them into their house if they need to be there. There's absolutely nothing wrong with what I do.

Amen, brother.

Read Sullivan's full story here. Watch Sandefur discuss The Right to Earn a Living below.

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  • ||

    Communism, is what it is!

  • ||

    Heh, heh, heh...When I first saw the headline of this article the image of Robert DeNiro with a mohawk and pistol entered my mind.

  • ||

    Aspen, Colorado where a man named Phil Sullivan just spent over a week in jail for operating an unlicensed taxi.

    I suspect he doesn't belong to a union, either.

    This son of a bitch is singlehandedly destroying the middle class!

  • Walter||

    I think I once "edited" (cite checked) a Sandefur submission for the Journal of Law & Public Policy. Now I am seriously considering digging it up and actually reading it.

  • ||

    Earning a living isn't a right. Not that the government should get in the way of your ability to do so.

  • ||

    Yes, it is. Every person has a natural right to provide a service to others. Whether he is successful is another question.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: TrickyVic,

    Earning a living isn't a right.


    Yes it is - it's part of your right to act. What you don't have a right to is an income. You have a right to seek it, but not to it, unless you completed your part of a bargain or fulfilled your part of a contract.

  • ||

    Earning a living isn't a right.

    WTF?

  • ||

    Do you have something to back that WTF? up?

  • ||

    I think the onus is on you brother.

  • ||

    It's not on me to prove it's not a right, that's proving a negative. If one claims it's a right, it's on them to prove how it is so.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Okay, we won't ask you to "prove" it's not a right. But, if you can make such an assertion, then surely you can back that assertion up up.

  • kennewick man||

    The 3 inch spear tip embedded in my hip has reared its ugly head!!!

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    I think 'WTF?' was his way of asking you to back up YOUR statement that earning a living isn't a right. I'll second that 'WTF?' I always thought one of the core tenets of libertarian philosophy was the right earn your living as you see fit (with a particular emphasis on 'earn').

  • ||

    All I can do is point to documents that define our rights. Otherwise anyone can claim almost anything is a natural right.

  • Almanian||

    Well, we sure wouldn't want people claiming TOO MANY rights! That'd lead to mass crazyness, and potentially liberty and stuff.

  • Ray Pew||

    All I can do is point to documents that define our rights. Otherwise anyone can claim almost anything is a natural right.

    Such as the documents you refer to?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Things don't need to be on a goddamn piece of paper to be a right. The constitution is not a perfectly liberal document.

  • sevo||

    "Things don't need to be on a goddamn piece of paper to be a right. The constitution is not a perfectly liberal document."

    This is *totally* irrelevant; the Constitution does *not* grant rights; it says every action is a 'right', except those properly constrained by the government of the people.
    Further, it specifies certain rights held by the people and specifically exempt from government restraint since those rights were commonly ignored by the English governmet.

  • ||

    ---"All I can do is point to documents that define our rights"---

    Wait. What. All of my rights are written down somewhere?

  • JB||

    Learn how to read:

    "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

  • ||

    "Yeah, you got rights. Lots of rights. Sometimes I like to stay up late and count them, just to make myself crazy."

  • ||

    I'm not sure which definition I want to see more: "right" or "earn a living".

    What is more fundamentally necessary to one's existence than trading knowledge/skill/labor for sustenance (or the means to acquire it)?

    What did I miss?

  • ||

    ""What is more fundamentally necessary to one's existence than trading knowledge/skill/labor for sustenance (or the means to acquire it)?""

    Agreed, but is someone violating your rights if they prevent you from do so? That opens a big can of worms. Not everything necessary is a right. You can't live without water and food, but you do not have a right to water and food. You have a responsibilty to get it. If you are denied food, water, or a job to get it, who are you suing for violating your right?

  • ||

    You have a right to OBTAIN water and food.

  • ||

    Come on, we are discussing the state's efforts to infringe upon one's right to labor. Because I choose not to avail myself or my businesses of your services, does not mean that I violated your right to provide goods or services.

  • ||

    I certainly don't think the state should infringe with your abilities.

    But not being able to work as a taxi driver doesn't prevent you from taking other employment.

    But where is written that earning a living is actually a right?

  • Almanian||

    It's written right here, in this very blog - "people have a right to earn a living". There, I wrote it again.

  • ||

    People claim to have a right to health care.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Which would mean that someone else does not have a right to their own labor. Willing exchange doesn't seize anything like that, because all parties are in agreement.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    NOW you're cookin', Vic.

  • ||

    No, no they don't.

  • Cyto||

    The right to earn a living comes under the freedom of association. You should be free to contract services from anyone you choose. The state should have a larger reason for restricting this right to free association than "because we said so". Limiting the number of taxicabs is not a legitimate function of government - it is an infringement on a right of the people that serves to enrich one constituency. Regulations as to the skills, insurance, billing disclosures, etc. - sure, that would be legitimate areas for discussion. But saying "our city only needs 23 taxicabs" is obviously an artifice designed to create a government sponsored monopoly to guard wealth and power.

  • SIV||

    Holy Christ, first highnumber shows up wanting American warplanes bombing the shit out of Libya now TrickyVic is denying the right to earn a living.
    What next, is Howley gonna get her old job back?

    I almost forgot what a total shithole this blog's comments used to be before I started posting.

  • ||

    You can't live without water and food, but you do not have a right to water and food. You have a responsibilty to get it.

    I'm back to WTF-ing.

    I'm not going to get drawn into some convoluted MaunderingNannyGoatesque back-and-forth about the definition of a "right".

    You have no right to anything which belongs to somebody else, absent a voluntary exchange of value (or charitable gift).

    What you seem to be saying is nobody has the "right" to engage in willing exchange of value. Does this mean a man with a shovel has no "right" to knock on a little old lady's door and offer to shovel her sidewalk for ten bucks? A woman has no "right" to take in washing?

  • ||

    """I'm not going to get drawn into some convoluted MaunderingNannyGoatesque back-and-forth about the definition of a "right".""

    Unless you can point to which document declares it a right, then that's where it would go.

  • Ray Pew||

    Unless you can point to which document declares it a right, then that's where it would go.

    An appeal to authority is not an argument. While you are correct that the State doesn't have to accept such argument, this fact does not make the argument incorrect.

    We accept that one doesn't have the right to murder and have written laws against such, yet it is a fact that it occurs all the time. This fact is not a compelling argument against the argument that one does not have a right to murder.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Do you want to live in the absurd America where the willing exchange of value actually needs to be written down to be considered a right? Maybe its not to be found in any document because that right is considered an indisputable fact. Or used to be, anyway.

  • ||

    ---"Unless you can point to which document declares it a right, then that's where it would go."---

    Amendment 9 - Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    I saw this written down once.

  • ||

    he refuses to accept the idea that he did anything wrong

    That's a death-sentence right there. How else can society survive?

  • Progressive Visionary||

    Don't you know that if you allow just anyone to drive a cab that soon "cabbies" will be kidnapping people to Somalia and removing their organs to sell? Why do you libertards hate people so much?!?

  • ||

    is someone violating your rights if they prevent you from do so?

    If a union goon blocks my path to the office of a business hiring scab labor replacement workers, yes. Unquestionably.

    When I tell my co-worker, the Girl Scout's father, I don't want to buy any cookies from her, no.

  • ||

    But where is written that earning a living is actually a right?

    Holy shit. Where is it written that breathing is actually a right?

  • ||

    If breathing was a right, more cops would be punished for violating that right.

  • ||

    Unless you can point to which document declares it a right

    On that, I'll call for a DRINK!

  • ||

    But not being able to work as a taxi driver doesn't prevent you from taking other employment.

    *Blows whistle, throws flag*

    I'm gonna call "goalposts in motion" on that move.

  • ||

    I would be more inclined to agree with that if the article wasn't about infringing on a taxi job.

  • ||

    At the risk of hearing "But that's not the Constitution, is it?" I'd like to point out that little tidbit about "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration.

    Life, unless it is granted solely at the discretion of the State (HINT: it isn't), demands gainful employment.

  • ||

    All I can do is point to documents that define our rights.

    And there it is:

    ALL RIGHTS ARE GRANTED BY THE STATE

    The bar is open!

  • Almanian||

    Whew - thanks! I was getting tired...

  • ||

    Well good luck at defending any action against your right that is not written.

  • Almanian||

    Remind me never to invite Tricky Vic to a party.

  • ||

    But what if you need a pinata?

  • ||

    ""I'd like to point out that little tidbit about "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration.""

    I wish that actually meant something. The state can reject your life. The state of liberty in this country is becoming a joke, and there are tons of laws that prevent your 'pursuit of Happiness".

    But that's in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    The taxi driver was punished for failure to bend his knee to the king.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    ... Hobbit

  • sevo||

    "The taxi driver was punished for failure to bend his knee to the king.
    Nothing more, nothing less.
    ... Hobbit"

    And the sweet part is that he *still* won't bend his knee; he keeps saying 'up yours, pal'.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "I've been picking them up for years and years, strangers and friends"
    "I generally help them into their house if they need to be there."

    He sounds like a creep.

    "I pick up people...and I take them where I want to go "

    If this is how you run a car service, maybe licensing isn't such a bad idea actually.

    Seriously though.

  • sevo||

    TrickyVic|3.9.11 @ 6:18PM|#
    "Well good luck at defending any action against your right that is not written."

    Uh, walking down the street? Eating a hot dog at the ballpark? Typing this response on a computer? Making dinner? Calling someone on the phone?
    WTF are you talking about!?

  • sevo||

    P Brooks|3.9.11 @ 6:13PM|#
    "All I can do is point to documents that define our rights.

    And there it is:
    NO RIGHTS ARE GRANTED BY THE STATE"

    FIFY.
    'We hold these rights to be unalienable..."
    Rights are *not* "granted" by the state.

  • AspenFreePress||

    I'd like to discuss this case with Damon Root. My question now is whether illegal selective prosecution may become a factor in this unfolding case.
    Sterling Greenwood/AspenFreePress

  • ||

    Phil sullivan is and has always been a greedy person. He could care less about personal rights. He used to own a taxi and a limo company. The puc laws were good enough for him then. But when he went bust investing in the dot com era and lost everything, he tried working for a cab company but got fired. Now he is a desperate old man trying to scratch a living illegally

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