Monday, October 29, 2007

Taxi! Taxi! Merde, pas de Taxi

. Monday, October 29, 2007

Interesting factoid of the day: "There are considerably fewer cabs in Paris today than there were in the 1920s, because of strict limits on new licences set by the drivers themselves."

Why, you might ask, are there fewer taxis today than in the 1920s? It turns out, to drive a taxi you need a license. If you want a free license to drive a taxi in Paris, you will have to wait for 17 years. If you are the impatient sort, then you can put up $263,000 to purchase a license today.

Why, you might ask, is it so costly to attain a license to drive a taxi in France? Because taxi drivers are unionized. France's reformers say that getting rid of the costly licenses would create 150,000 new jobs. The head of the taxi union, Alain Estival, is not enthusiastic; cab drivers "already saved France once when Paris' taxis brought troops to the front in the First World War -- they're not going to sacrifice themselves again to save the French economy."

According to some, such as Jacques Delpla, an economist on the commission established to help Sarkozy identify barriers to growth in France, the taxi problem is symbolic of the bigger French problem: you have to pay for working. And once you do, you have strong incentive to prevent any change to the rules of the game.


Taxi! Taxi! Merde, pas de Taxi




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