Public employee union leaders, politicized government bureaucrats and special interest cronies in the private sector who trade political influence for economic favors: these are the new power elites in America whose existence and scope finally are being recognized. They often invoke the poor, but do nothing much for them. In the case of teachers union leaders (in New York and Chicago, and even Washington State), they are beginning to become the objects of satire.
Here's another case: In Seattle, the Luddite City Council has just decided to restrict passenger car services like Uber that have attracted enthusiasm almost everywhere they are tried. Young techie Seattlites love them because they easy, reliable and quick--summoned by a mere cell phone call. These services also have the merit of moving more people out of their own cars, thus saving fuel and parking spaces, and often are used by people going out to parties as a responsible way to respond to the admonition not to drink and drive. Think about this. Seattle is a city where officials constantly have made private car driving more and more problematic. Yet when a brilliant technology comes along that allows car owners to leave their vehicles at home, the City retaliates!
The problem, of course, is that Seattle and other cities long ago established a taxi-cab monopoly for passenger pick-ups. The taxi technology and style is familiar, but now old fashioned--early 20th century. The people who own the cabs have to get pricey medallions, and understandably treat them as an exclusionary, non-competitive entitlement, the way, say, a medieval silversmith regarded his guild membership. The rise of free enterprise ended the stultifying effects of the medieval guilds, but the desire for monopoly persists as a predictable human ambition. The political power is with the taxi companies.
The Seattle City Council might have found a means to deregulate the taxi cabs over a period of time so that taxi owners were not suddenly and completely disadvantaged. Instead, the Council came down on the side of limiting the upstart competitors of the taxis. This is the Luddite solution, the reaction of people (to go back to the medieval example) who want to smash new technology rather than learn to live and thrive with it.
Greg Gottesman, a principal of Madrona Investment Co. in Seattle--who knows something about innovation--reacted to the City Council with a fine satire that has been reprinted repeatedly (so I am hardly the first). Meanwhile about 35,000 people have begun protesting the City Council's action.
Greg Gottesman's article follows.