Open the Market to Competition: By Moshe Feiglin
Last week, I proposed a bill in the Knesset to institute online ridesharing as an option for commuters. Currently, it is illegal in Israel for drivers who are not certified for public transportation to take passengers in their vehicles for pay. This bill would make it legal, under the auspices of an online company that would regulate prices, taxation and authorize the drivers according to their age and driving experience. Ridesharing is a new, accessible and fast mode of commuting. It incorporates community interaction, efficiency and economic liberty. Ridesharing will decrease the number of vehicles on the road, decrease air pollution and accidents, decrease arrival time and transportation costs, increase competition for the cab drivers, lower the price of public transportation and provide an extra source of income for drivers.
The cab drivers, of course, are protesting this bill. Dear friends, we all complain about the high cost of living, but the situation does not improve. Why not?
Because every group that has achieved some type of advantage over the general public, bitterly fights to preserve that advantage. All of us pay for this approach.
The local Wissotzky teabag company used to have an advantage over its foreign competitors: There was a law that prohibited the marketing of teabags attached to a string by a staple. (That was how the major competitors from overseas attached the teabags to the string). The Israeli consumer continued to pay an absurd price for teabags because Wissotsky enjoyed a monopoly.
There is a simple way for all of us – including the cab drivers – to be able to live here comfortably without having to pay double the accepted price in the free world for basics. We must do away with all monopolies and open the market for most products and services to free competition.
Opening the transportation market to all drivers – with appropriate public oversight – is just the beginning. In the future, I will act to nullify all the customs and limitations on the import of food items. (The OU kosher certification is certainly sufficient to authorize import of a particular product). The food companies will not like that and they will most likely try to pressure the government, just as the cab drivers are doing now.
The Ridesharing Bill clearly expresses my perspective on economic liberty and the new spirit that I bring to Israeli politics.
There is also a solution for the cab drivers. Along with advancing this bill, I will act to compensate them for the large sums of money they have invested for their cab license under the current, rotten system. I am sure that if they work with me to find a better solution for public transportation, the cab market will re-invent itself to accommodate the new reality. Just like the cell phone market after it opened to competition, the number of customers will increase and the cab drivers will be able to focus on the public sectors that prefer this mode of transportation.
Liberty and innovation will do us all good – and cost us less, as well.