Government impounds car for giving free rides to cancer patients

July 07, 2014 | By JONATHAN WOOD

The government’s protection of the taxi cartel has always been reprehensible. State and local governments bar entry into this industry in order to drive up prices and protect existing taxi companies from competition. As a consequence, entrepreneurs, particularly immigrant entrepreneurs, are denied their right to earn a living and pursue their American dream and lower income riders are denied reliable access to transportation. This conflict has only expanded as technology and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have rendered the 20th Century’s taxi industry largely obsolete.

But last month, New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission did something even more despicable than normal:

It seized a car because its owner gives free rides to doctors’ appointments to cancer patients.

Fortunately, the Commission eventually returned the car after a public backlash and verifying that the ride had been given for free. But, really, what difference should that make? What if, instead of giving the ride completely free, the driver Yeshaya Liebowitz had given cancer patients rides charging them for the costs of gas? What if he charged a fare, but one that was significantly less than a cab? In any case he would be doing an incredibly compassionate thing that significantly improved the lives of people suffering from cancer.

There’s only one reason to forbid these rides unless they’re free. That’s to discourage drivers from giving them in order to benefit the licensed taxi businesses who would otherwise be able to charge the patients absurdly high fares.