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Instrumental vs. Ultimate Goals

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Cab driver Melissa Plaut asserts that Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to allow livery cabs to pick up street hails in New York City “would hurt the taxi industry more than it would help the public” (“Mayor Bloomberg, Back-Seat Driver,” Jan. 22).  She then offers versions of some of the same specious arguments used 35 years ago by airlines and trucking firms to argue against what experience now shows to have been the successful deregulation of those industries.

The ultimate purpose of the taxi industry is not to secure benefits for itself; that purpose, rather, is to transport willing customers.  The only relevant test for this proposal is if it increases benefits to paying passengers.  Period.  If paying passengers benefit over the long run, even if only a smidgen, no amount of corresponding harm to the taxi industry justifies blocking the proposal.

Donald J. Boudreaux