Petty Cartels

by on February 23, 2009 at 11:35 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

Entrepreneur Erroll Tyler doesn't want a bailout, his amphibian tour buses don't needing bailing out.  What he does want is to bring his service to Boston but a local cartel appear to have a lock on the licenses issued by the city government.  Here's a short video making the case, including law professor Randy Barnett who argues that the 14th amendment should be interpreted to protect economic liberty.

1 Michael February 23, 2009 at 11:26 am

City-issued licenses in Boston are causing a number of headaches…

I’m not sure I can empathize with someone who wants to introduce a bright yellow amphibious vehicle carrying tourists into the city. Aren’t the duck tours enough!?

2 John Pertz February 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I understand Mike’s point however, maybe letting Tyler into the market knocks someone out. I mean just because you have a hypothetical free market in waterway tour shows doesnt mean the Boston market can sustain a million different companies. There is only so much business to go around and I dont see why Tyler doesnt deserve a shot to take someone off their perch.

3 Ben M February 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

These tour buses *do* have huge externalities: they’re loud, noisy contraptions with loudspeakers on board shouting at the loud passengers. Sometimes the passengers are encouraged to shout (for the Duck Tours they go “quack quack”) as part of the tour. Then they crowd themselves into the heavily-used Charles River Basin, making trouble for recreational boaters (mostly sailboats).

Duck Tours gets a limited number of slots from the city; I suspect that the free-market equilibrium is “Many operators running as many buses as possible”, since they’ll start competing on price and making up their costs with volume. This would be a complete disaster in the externalities department.

I’m happy for Tyler to get some of his buses into the loop *as long as* it knocks some of the Duck Boats out, rather than just getting into a volume war with them. Why not create a finite number of departure timeslots (like at an airport) and auction them off?

4 kebko February 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Um, Tim….Are you telling us that you don’t have a rower’s license for the St. Charles?

5 RickC February 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Responsible Social Democrat,

Funny and barbed. My favorite kind of humor.

6 ila February 23, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Is the fact that lawyers are planning to take this case all the way to the supreme court unnerving anyone else?

7 Craig February 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I am fairly convinced that the City is wrong in this case. Still there is a giant whole in libertarian thinking represented by the fact that this business man was citing the Coast Guard to assure people of the safety of his ship. Also does this man’s business even exist? Has he invested money in the hope that he will get lucky and the city will give him a license? There is nothing wrong with that, but it shows that government is influenced by narrow private interests and this can’t just be wished away.

8 sex shop July 27, 2010 at 4:42 am

I’m not sure I can empathize with someone who wants to introduce a bright yellow amphibious vehicle carrying tourists into the city. Aren’t the duck tours enough

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