April Freeman Banner 2014


Jobs Require Capital

JANUARY 01, 1964 by W. M. CURTISS

A recent editorial in The New York Times commented on the fact that a taxi driver in New York City, who owns and operates his own cab, must have a medal­lion, now worth $26,500.

This medallion, a metal plate attached to the cab, is, in effect, a license to operate a cab on the city streets. The City fathers have seen fit to limit the number of cabs to a specified figure. As a result, the only way to become a cabbie is to acquire one of these medallions.

The market attaches a value to this privilege, so medallions are bought and sold or handed down from father to son or acquired by some other method. Once a medallion is obtained, then the owner can go about getting his auto and other tools of his trade.

The Times referred to the taxi driver as “The Capitalist Cabbie” and of course he is just that. It appears that it would require about $30,000 to set a man up in the business.

If this seems a rather big in­vestment in a job, think for a moment of the average factory worker over the country. Someone must have invested $18,000 to $20,000 to set up his job. In some industries it is much more and may run to nearly $100,000 for each employee. This investment provides the plant or place to work, tools to work with, and whatever else is necessary to make the best use of the worker’s time and effort.

A farmer may invest $50,000 to $100,000 in a farm to provide himself with a job. A physician may invest thousands of dollars in a specialized education and in the tools of his trade before he can hang out his shingle. You can think of many occupations which must be accompanied by a siz­able investment.

There is this difference: In the case of the factory worker or the farmer, the investment in the tools of his trade represents ac­tual, physical things. The cost of a taxi driver’s medallion, how­ever, represents only a legal priv­ilege—the cost of excluding others from the job by force.


January 1964

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April 2014

Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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