It's my cab … don't you forget
Posted by aogMonday, 02 October 2006 at 09:08 TrackBack Ping URL

Apparently the refusal to openly carry alcohol by taxicabs in Minneapolis is getting a lot of blogospheric commentary. I have to go against the mainstream and say I don’t see the problem. The complaint seems to be that the Somalis are imposing their own cultural instead of adopting the local culture. But isn’t owning your own property and setting your own rules for it part of our culture? I haven’t seen anything that indicates the Somali cab drivers are doing anything other than setting the rules for their own businesses on the business premises. What is more American than that?

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Robert Mitchell Jr. Monday, 02 October 2006 at 10:22

I think the problem is we don’t get to do that anymore, thanks to the little tin gods, and we are seeing envy againest the people who are allowed to do such things, because they are a protected class.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 02 October 2006 at 10:30

That’s certainly a good and valid argument, but the posts I see go on about “creeping Shari’a law” which is just silly. If you wanted an example of actual “Islamophobia”, I think such posts would be an excellent choice.

cjm Monday, 02 October 2006 at 11:02

the proper response is for competing cab companies to advertise that they do carry liquor.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 02 October 2006 at 15:37

That’s basically my view as well, with two caveats:

  • Each driver is de facto his own “cab company”, which is why each driver gets to decide on his own. But we agree that it should be up to whoever owns the cab.
  • To avoid confusion with general cultural norms, it would be reasonable to require alcohol free cabs to indicate the fact via some external indicator (which seems to be the way the airport is going to handle it).
Jeff Guinn Saturday, 07 October 2006 at 15:40

What if the cabbie decides not to carry a Jew?

Jeff Guinn Sunday, 08 October 2006 at 10:07

So what to do when a Muslim cabbie declines to transport a blind woman because of her guide dog?

If the passenger is within existing law (closed container, for instance; special allowance for guide dogs in another), then the cabbie is obligated to either carry the fare, or find another line of work.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 08 October 2006 at 10:40

Mr. Guinn;

You’re becoming very conformist. Intellectually, I have to say that I don’t see how one can distinguish these cases. I don’t like it, but my personal preferences aren’t what I use to determine the legimacy of law.

You mention that the cabbie should find another line of work — that doesn’t seem an unlikely outcome if this becomes widely known. The cabbies act as subcontractors for a larger, taxi supplying / dispatching firm. Public pressure on that company would seem to a corrective mechanism superior to state intervention. I would allow the cabbies to do any of these things and rely on public / market pressure to keep it in check. As a counter argument, do you think that cabbies should be able to forbid smokers? What if the cabbie were allergic to dogs? This is the kind of rat hole you get when you try to use the power of the state to impose unitary solutions.

On the other hand, I have been coming around to the view that several property (as defined by Hayek) is largely a social construct that is quite flexible at the system design level. As others have noted, driving is a privilege, not a right, and so the property definition of a taxi-cab license might well contain non-discrimination clauses (although this leaves one with the “problem” of explaining why restrictive convenants are therefore wrong).

Jeff Guinn Sunday, 08 October 2006 at 11:50


No, not conformist. That is counterintuitive, as I am arguing against the imposition, by a cabbie, of conformity.

Rather, in a market economy, one anticipates transparency and a level playing field.

Additionally, one does not get to make the law for oneself.

By “obligated to,” I mean that under the terms of a cab license, the cabbie does not get to decide which law abiding customers to carry.

I understand, and am sympathetic to, the libertarian argument that such restrictive practices are ultimately self defeating. True, in principle.

However, in practice, cab licenses are a classic example of restrictive entry. It is well within the realm of possibility that the entire cab service for an airport could consist of Muslims, who would then, without fear of competition, refuse carriage to someone carrying a closed container.

Or a blind woman with a guide dog.

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