Sean Malone's "No Vans Land"—How a Small Businessman Beat NYC's Public Transit Union


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"When you restrict someone like Hector from running his business, when you hit him with fines and prohibitions, and you give him all these restrictions" says Sean Malone, the Creative Media Director of the Charles Koch Institute, "you're not killing some big business. What you're doing, in this case, is harming immigrant guys."

Malone sat down with Nick Gillespie of ReasonTV to discuss his new online documentary, "No Vans Land." It tells the story of Hector Ricketts, a Jamaican immigrant who settled in New York City and started a commuter van service. Ricketts' vans catered to a neglected market: healthcare workers in the outer boroughs, far from Manhattan, who were underserved by public transportation. He offered fares that were lower than city buses, while receiving no subsidies from taxpayers.

As Ricketts' business grew, he came into conflict with the city. The metropolitan transit workers union perceived his vans as a threat to their livelihood. The politically powerful union pressured the city to crack down on the entire commuter van industry, imposing restrictions and fines that made it difficult to conduct business.

With time, tenacity, and the assistance of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, Ricketts was able to take on the city bureaucracy, and win the right to stay in business.

Malone continues to make documentaries about the struggles of small entrepreneurs. His next project champions entrepreneurs in the hair braiding profession, who've created jobs in Mississippi by eliminating arbitrary barriers to enter the field.

Runs about 6:50.

Produced by Todd Krainin. Camera by Amanda Winkler and Krainin.

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