Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Unfinished business

-- First, the proposal before Space City's council today for Uber and Lyft to finally begin operating in lawful manner in the city, with rules and regulations designed especially for them.

In Houston, officials have addressed some of the cab companies' concerns, though not to the satisfaction of taxi drivers and industry leaders. For example, city regulators wrote provisions requiring the companies to have insurance that's effective from the moment drivers log on to accept rides.

Other concerns raised by the cab companies remain unresolved. The rules as proposed allow the new companies to charge when someone doesn't show up or declines their ride, a right cab companies do not have, said Cindy Clifford, spokeswoman for Houston Transportation Company, the city's largest taxi business and parent of Yellow Cab.

Taxi companies also pay property taxes on their vehicles, and Councilman Michael Kubosh has filed an amendment requiring the drivers and dispatch companies to pay taxes as cab companies do.


After delays of a month and a week for additional study and debate, city regulators made minor tweaks, mostly to address concerns from the disabled community by mandating that 2 percent of vehicles for hire be capable of transporting passengers who are in a wheelchair or who require a lift to get into a car.

The city's delays did not soften the opposition from local taxi companies.

"We are happy to compete in a marketplace with a level playing field," said Clifford. "This is not a level playing field and it is widely unfair."

I really can't identify a single other instance in which a company entered several major US markets, openly flaunted their breaking of the laws by operating without being authorized, and were then approved with a new set of rules created especially for them that were less restrictive than the existing companies they came to compete with.

Can you think of any comparison in American business today?  Because I can't.

Update: Business finished, 10-5 in favor-- with Jerry Davis, Mike Laster, C.O. Bradford, Michael Kubosh and Jack Christie voting no -- and two CMs (one of whom was Dave Martin, opposed to the ordinance) absent.

Update II: Dug Begley, on the morning after, says it's not the end of the discussion.  I agree.

-- Rand Paul didn't finish his hamburger.  He didn't even finish chewing the mouthful he bit off before bolting the Iowa restaurant where he was having lunch with Steve King.  All because of the word "DREAMer".  King stuck around for the conversation though and humiliated himself repeatedly, grabbing the young woman's wrist and saying, "You're very good at English".

Just when you think these wads have gone as low as they can... they dig themselves deeper.

-- Greg Sargent at the WaPo's Plum Line has the stunning development that the GOP has collapsed in terms of its support among women, younger voters, and everybody that isn't Caucasian.  The unfinished business here is this: does it even matter if those folks don't turn out to vote in 90 days?

-- Walgreens knuckled under to the 45,000+ Americans who told them not to relocate their company's headquarters from Illinois to Switzerland to avoid paying taxes.  After that announcement, and for the remaining two hours the American stock market was open... Walgreens' stock got pummeled.

Wall Street just doesn't give a rip about Main Street, people.  Greed is NOT good, Gordon Gekko.  When the top 25 hedge fund managers in America make over $24 billion dollars -- enough to pay the salaries of 425,000 teachers -- something is wrong in America. 

When the wealthiest American family (the Waltons, whose $148 billion net worth is greater than the lowest 40% of the rest of America's) pays their workers subsistence wages and actively encourages them to apply for governmental assistance, something is quite obviously wrong in America.

When the second-wealthiest family in America (Charles and David Koch) contribute vast sums of money to hundreds of American politicians to persuade them to cut public pensions -- the only kind that are left -- and Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid... something is very wrong in the Land of the Somewhat Free and the Home of the Not So Brave.

(Thanks to both Bernie Sanders and jobsanger for the above stats.)

That is not sustainable.  Economically, politically, or morally.

Americans have some business to finish at the voting booth in November.  Whether they are up to the very necessary task of putting the trash out on the curbside remains to be seen.

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