Thursday, November 14, 2013

Einsteinium: Synthetic Reality

Buenos dias from Mexico City, my last full day in Mexico.  Tomorrow I fly first to Houston then on to Seattle.  My bus ride from Puelba to Mexico City actually offered refreshments similar to an airline.  Entering the bus the passengers had an array of snacks and beverages to chose from.  Amazing.  My Puebla taxi ride to the bus station was great.  By that point I knew parts of the city and correct routes and he went essentially the way I would have taken.  The driver, an older gentleman of one year total experience, became excited when I identified myself as "taxi driver USA Seattle, State of Washington."  He even got more excited when I gave him two American dollars as his tip, translating to 26 pesos. Money of course is what makes those taxi wheels spin.

 I will miss Puebla.  If you get down that way check out the Bibioteca Palafoxiana and its 50,000 rare books.  You will also want to see the Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzman and its side chapel, the Capilla del Rosario.  I have been to many Roman Catholic countries and visited many churches and cathedrals but if you need to see only one, come down to Puebla and stare up at the amazing ceilings.

Einsteinium, named after Albert Einstein, is a synthetic radioactive element, symbol Es and listed 99 on the Periodic Table of the Elements.  It only occurs after a thermonuclear explosion, which makes it synthetic not primary.  Other than possibly the kind of explosions occurring upon the face of our friendly star, the sun, you do not want nuclear explosions.  They are deadly, and hence creating a synthetic and unnatural reality.

 I am using the einsteinium analogy to express a potent point.  All that has been occurring the past four years concerning the Seattle & King County taxi industry is artificial and synthetic, a manifestation, a reality created solely by decisions that should NEVER have been made but moreover, can NEVER be made if your goal is the overall health and vitality of an industry.

When, primarily on Mr. Leisy's initiative, the City of Seattle encouraged the purchase of that synthetic taxi, the for-hire vehicle, it became an unnecessary element of the industry, something that should not exist, at least in Seattle. In NYC's outer boroughs like Queens they might be necessary but not here.  And something to remember, Seattle is a city of 600,000 thousand, not ten million.

Instead of answering the call for more legitimate taxi licenses to be released, they created an alternate and dysfunctional reality victimizing both the taxi industry and the desperate individuals who became for-hire owners.  We all now know the story of how the for-hire owners and drivers are operating illegally in the city.  It is a mess and situation that can not be tolerated.  The new Murray administration must act quickly to put this damaging genie back into its bottle.

The so-called ride-share services are another example of synthetic reality.  Using and utilizing new technology is one thing but allowing an entire new range of unregulated synthetic taxi services to operate under the guise of new technology makes little sense.  Perhaps requiring that the taxi industry embrace new technologies similar to what is happening in NYC does make sense, making the service more passenger and customer friendly.  But saying that new technology justifies the entry of Lyft, Uber-X etc makes no sense.  It is an incorrect response to our transportation model.

Albert Einstein, a very smart man, later voiced regret for having helped create the age of atom bombs.  It is time for the local Seattle and King County administrators and regulators to admit their fatal errors and retract their very bad decisions.  It is past the time they begin acknowledging their mistakes and start repairing the damage, that THEY THEMSELVES created.  NO ONE else is responsible.  Any other course must be seen as what it is, a declaration of war upon the taxi industry.  That is not, and will never be, acceptable.  We in the industry require a responsive regulatory environment.


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