Customer Satisfaction: New York subway vs. Uber

Re: MTA has more happy riders — but still lags behind D.C., Chicago:

Only a government monopoly such as the MTA could brag about an “almost” 50% customer satisfaction rate.

And yet no one is willing to ask the most obvious of questions: why should the government, which is a coercive monopoly by its very nature, be involved in the transportation business at all? Why shouldn’t our filthy, crumbling, rat-infested, utterly unreliable subway system be sold off to a private entity to take over, modernize, and run efficiently and cost-effectively? And why should New York City and New York State be allowed to cripple, with unending and ever-increasing fees and regulations, the competitiveness of private ride-sharing companies like Uber that have a 97% customer satisfaction rate?

New laws will kill my livelihood

(Published in New York Daily News)

Re “A tough ‘gig’ in Albany” (Jan. 28): Lost in your amplification of the talking points of the politicians and union leaders pushing this legislation are the voices of the people whose lives will actually be affected by it. I run two freelance businesses that have taken me 30 years to build successfully — one as a jazz bandleader, another as a freelance graphic designer.

As a bandleader, I am hired by ever-changing clients in many different contexts. It would not be practical or possible for any of them to hire me full-time. If this law passes, they will not hire me at all. And my sidemen are many and ever-changing. I cannot hire any of them full-time and if forced to do so, will not be able to employ them under any circumstances. As a freelance graphic designer, my clients are many and ever-changing. Not one of them would hire me full-time merely to design, say, a website or a PowerPoint presentation.

I am 60-years old, and so am unemployable full-time. Even if I was to give up my independent businesses (as I will be forced to do), there will be no alternative but to face permanent unemployment, or to leave the state. For independent contractors older than me, the consequences will be more dire.

Failing Freelancers (Published in New York Post)

California’s independent contractors’ legislation does not “protect gig-economy workers,” nor does it “guarantee rights to workers.” (“Freelancers law making waves in New York,” Dec. 20).

On the contrary, it violates the fundamental right of employers and employees to contract freely under whatever terms they mutually judge to reflect their self-interest. As a result, it restricts choices, destroys opportunities, increases costs, lowers the standard of living and will ultimately destroy lives and livelihoods as it inevitably spreads from car services to musicians, photographers, writers and all other independent contractors whose very fragile livelihoods depend entirely on the right to contract freely with their employers and clients. Keep this destructive legislation out of New York.

Politics and Principles (published in the New York Post)

That Mayor Bloomberg believes that “tax policy is the way government uses capitalism… to encourage the right behavior” is shocking. It belies a fundamental ignorance of capitalism while revealing the mindset of a dictator. 

Capitalism is the system wherein the government exists solely to protect the right of the individual citizen to make his own choices based on his own judgment, so long as he abstains from violating the equal rights of others. A dictatorship, by contrast, is the system wherein the government forces the individual citizen to follow the judgment of a single political leader.

Of course, we don’t yet live under a dictatorship or anything near one. What we live under is a mixed economy, i.e., a mixture of capitalism and statism that is currently drifting towards the latter. In this context, the brazen assertion that the purpose of taxes is to influence behavior, rather finance government, represents yet another principled step away from our country’s founding principles.

Under capitalism, a political leader is not endowed with superior wisdom and the right to enforce it on the citizenry through tax policy, law, or any other means. Not in theory, not in fact, and not in a country founded on the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Shackling Businessmen/Taxing Customers

The $27 million in restaurant fines that the Health Department expects to collect this year is essentially a transfer of wealth from the patrons of those establishments to the city government. This to support a regulatory agency that gives passing inspections to rat-infested restaurants while fining clean restaurants $200 to $2000 for such “crimes” as cooking a whole turkey.

Dismantling all of New York’s unnecessary and incompetent regulatory agencies, beginning with the Health Department, would remove the shackles off of businessmen while putting hundreds of millions of dollars back into the pockets of their customers.

Is Regulating Services A Service? (published in New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg says that New Yorkers pay more taxes because they get more services; this is just another way of saying that New Yorkers pay more taxes because New York’s government spends more of their money. He also says that he doesn’t “know anybody that’s urging us to reduce the services.” Oh really? May I be the first then? We could make a start by not only reducing, but by eliminating, all of the economically destructive “services” provided by the meddling licensing and regulatory agency bureaucrats who use their arbitrary powers to prohibit peaceful economic activity. That would radically reduce taxes, while simultaneously lowering the costs and increasing the quantity and quality of the real services that the public actually wants and is willing to pay for voluntarily.