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Jay Stan

Are Mike Bloomberg and NYC Cabbies Really Racist?

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and the other Democratic candidates for President are now attacking newcomer Mike Bloomberg for being a “racist” because of allegedly “racist” policing policies he used while he was Mayor of NYC.

When he was mayor, Bloomberg sharply increased the number of police assigned to crime-ridden minority areas and allowed police to arbitrarily “stop and frisk” young black men for handguns. Now the other hypocrite Democratic candidates are howling “racist” to drive billionaire Bloomberg out of the Presidential race.

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Was Bloomberg really “racist?” He said the justification behind his policy was just common sense. The vast majority of gun crimes and murders in minority areas were committed by young black men between the ages of 16 and 28. So, to Bloomberg, it just made common sense to go to the source of the problem, young black males carrying guns.

It turns out that in practical terms, Bloomberg was absolutely correct, even though he probably violated young black men’s constitutional rights with his selective “stop and frisk” policy. The gun killings in minority areas dropped dramatically after he began the new policy. Bloomberg’s new policy actually saved thousands of black lives, both young black men and other innocent black residents of these minority areas who were no longer being gunned down. So, is it “racist” to have common sense?

Here’s another example of common sense being called “racist.” In a magazine interview some years ago, Danny Glover, a well-known black actor, complained that sometimes New York City cabbies refused to pick him up. Mr. Glover was angry, and I don’t blame him. But instead of saying to himself, “Hey, it’s their cab and they should have the right to pick up who they please,” he complained to the authorities. He claimed that these cabbies were “racist” and refused to pick him up because he is black.

I’m sure he was right about this. Every day, many cabbies don’t pick up black men on New York City streets simply because they are black. If I was Mr. Glover, I would also feel insulted. However, though I thoroughly sympathize with Mr. Glover (one of my favorite actors) and all other black men who are insulted by this behavior, most cabbies are not racist.

Imagine you’ve been a cabbie for over ten years. During that time, you have been mugged in your cab eight times, sometimes at knifepoint. Out of those eight times, suppose six or seven of the muggers were black. Now, what attitude would you begin to form in your mind about the dangers of picking up black men? If your fellow cabbies told you similar horror stories about when they were mugged in their cabs, wouldn’t that reinforce your judgment about the potential dangers of picking up black men?

When cabbies refuse to pick up black men on the street, in most cases they are simply trying to protect their own lives and safety as best they can. They can only go by the odds. If the majority of times they were mugged and their life threatened was when they picked up young black men as passengers, wouldn’t any sane man want to avoid such dangers in the future? Doesn’t a cabbie have the right of self-defense by taking precautionary measures? Since the cabbie has no way of knowing the character of a black man on the street before the man enters his cab, how else is the cabbie to avoid what he sees as a potentially mortal danger to himself? Is he going to interview the black man and ask for a criminal background check before he lets him into his cab? Of course not. So, the only and simplest way to avoid this potential danger is to not pick up the black man in the first place. Is this “racism,” or just a man exercising common sense to protect himself?

And even if he refuses to pick up a black man based on racist attitudes, he should have that right. What is a “racist” attitude? It is when someone thinks badly of another person because that other person belongs to some racial or religious group. The bigot is stupid and judges a person based on what he perceives as group characteristics. The bigot may be stupid, and his opinion is insulting to the person he is bigoted against, but doesn’t a person have the right to his opinions? For that is what bigotry is, an opinion.

A person has the right to exercise his opinions with his own property. If a person owns a house and doesn’t want to sell his house to someone because of that person’s skin color, sex, or religion, that is his right. That house is his property. He has the right to do business with whomever he pleases, based on whatever rational or bigoted reasons he can dream up. The person he refuses to do business with may feel insulted by the other person’s bigotry, but that person does not have the right to control the bigot’s mind, freedom of choice, or property. The same applies to the owner of a cab company or to a self-employed cabbie.

Of course, most black men on the street hailing a cab are not criminals or dangerous in any way to the cabbie. But the cabbie cannot know this. He has no way to pre-judge, except perhaps by a quick look at the clothes and appearance of the black man. But why bother even doing this? The easiest way to avoid danger, in the cabbie’s mind, is simply to not pick up this man.

A law-abiding black man who hails a cab on New York City streets rightfully resents being judged as dangerous, simply because he is black. However, I would ask Mr. Glover to put himself in the cabbie’s shoes. Let’s imagine that Mr. Glover was a cabbie and had been mugged in his cab 20 times by Japanese men. Wouldn’t he, out of common sense, avoid picking up Japanese men as passengers? Under the same circumstances, he would act the same way.

It’s terribly unfair that black men who mug cabbies make life miserable for the vast majority of decent, law-abiding black men who don’t. These black muggers also make life miserable for blacks who want to own a home or rent and are “discriminated” against for similar reasons.

The blame must fall on black criminals whose actions hurt all other blacks. The blame should not fall on non-blacks who want to protect themselves or their property from what they reasonably perceive as a danger. Most of the time there is no danger. But if you had the choice to pick up a young black man who, in your mind, was more likely to endanger your life, vs a white woman, who most likely would not endanger your life, who would you choose? Again, the issue here is common sense vs the hurt feelings of the person who is insulted by someone else’s bigotry or misjudgment. The key issue is also liberty, the freedom of choice, and the right to use or dispose of your hard-earned property as you see fit, based on your personal judgment, however wrong or bigoted.

If you are not allowed free choice, if the government says they now own your mind, your judgment, your right to decide who you associate or do business with, then the government owns you, lock, stock, and barrel. The government then has turned into a mind-controlling quasi-police state, the “1984” of George Orwell’s novel. Such a government then passes laws forbidding cabbies from refusing to pick up black men. The quasi-police-state regulations then tell cabbies that they don’t have the right of self-defense, which is the birthright and most fundamental right of every living creature.

The way to solve the problem of cabbies not picking up black men is to deregulate the cab industry. Anyone with a car should be allowed to be a cabbie without any license or regulatory roadblocks whatsoever. Today, if a black man wants to start his own business by buying a car and being a cabbie, expensive regulations block him from doing so.

He must have a “medallion” to own and drive a cab in New York City, and this medallion can cost over $200,000. A potential cabbie must pay for the “privilege” of driving a cab in New York City. The medallion system therefore sharply reduces the number of cabs in the city and erects impossible barriers to blacks owning their own cab.

This extortionist sum of money to buy a medallion effectively blocks 99% of black men from starting their own cab business. As a result, thousands of potential new cabs driven by black entrepreneurs never cruise the streets. It is black cab drivers who would hopefully pick up black passengers anywhere in the city.  But these black cab drivers are now forced to go underground, to break the law as “gypsy” cabs. If they are caught, they are given heavy fines or jailed.

If the cab business was totally deregulated, if any black person could buy a used car and become a cabbie, then Danny Glover and other black men’s problems getting a cab in New York City could be solved. There would be a huge increase in the number of black-owned cabs roaming the streets, and most would not refuse black men as passengers (hopefully).

You can’t change people’s attitudes overnight. But if we turn the cab business over to the free market and totally deregulate the industry, fierce competition could solve Danny Glover’s problems with cabs a lot faster than trying to legislate away cabbies alleged “racism.”

What would also help would be to kick out every Democrat Mayor in the country, and let Republican Mayors help revitalize these cites, so young black men would have jobs and prosper. If much fewer black men commit crimes or mug cabbies, then most cabbies will then no longer be afraid to pick up black men in their cabs.

 


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