Cash and Carry
A couple of days ago, Dubner posted a challenge: think about activities that are legal when done for free but become illegal when they are done for money. Despite my recent post on the injustice of the taxi medallion system, not one of the 100+ responders to Dubner’s appeal mentioned that the simple act of driving passengers around is a crime — when it is done for cash.
Granted, you can get special government dispensation to do this, but this often doesn’t come cheap. Government not only requires permission to operate a taxi but often enforces draconian limits on cabs’ numbers. Hence the right to carry passengers for cash is often outlandishly expensive though the identical activity is perfectly legal and quite harmless, as long as a couple of pieces of paper don’t change hands.
This doesn’t seem quite fair to me, though I guess the tepid reader response shows that taxi regulation is not quite the pulse-pounding roller-coaster ride of an issue I thought it was. But even if it won’t be eliciting sit-ins and hunger strikes any time soon, I still think the medallion system deserves a serious second look.