When Monopolists Attack

Yes, this story is from France, which is hardly a bastion of free market economics, but that doesn’t make the story any less outrageous or ridiculous:

At first, it was just an idea, but this bill is now very real — urban transportation services like Uber and LeCab will now have to wait 15 minutes in France before letting a customer in the car. Back in October, the French government mentioned this piece of legislation as these new services would hurt traditional cab drivers. But nothing was set in stone until the AFP spotted the new bill today — and this news comes as a surprise.

In France, you have to pay a hefty price to get your taxi license. As a payback, the taxi industry is very regulated in this country, and drivers can expect to get a healthy influx of clients.

Yet, when the young and fearless startups appeared, many taxi drivers protested against LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Voitures Jaunes and Uber. While the French law calls these companies “VTC” services (car services), taxi drivers think that they are direct competitors — and smartphones certainly make Uber and others act like taxi services. That’s why the government sided with taxi drivers and talked about creating the 15-minute rule.

There is no point whatsoever to this law, of course, save protecting the interests of the taxi drivers’ monopoly. And while we can all laugh at the French over this issue, let’s remember that laws restricting the business opportunities of companies like Uber and of food trucks that compete with restaurant quasi-cartels get passed all the time here in the United States.

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