Steven Greenhut: Taxi Deregulation Removes Cabbies' Economic Shackles



After the Civil War, newly freed slaves and poor whites in the Deep South often became "sharecroppers" who farmed land owned by others and paid a share of the crops. Barely able to eke out a living and unable to buy farms, they became indebted to the owners and locked into a life of poverty. It sounds strange at first, writes Steven Greenhut, but San Diego's taxicab system — like such systems elsewhere – has parallels to that antiquated economic model. Eighty-nine percent of the city's cab drivers rent cabs. Because of a city-imposed cap on the number of cabs, these drivers cannot go out on their own. There is no an opportunity to remove these economic shackles.