Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The End Results Of Poor & Ineffective Comprehension

Last week, while lounging around San Miguel de Allende and mulling ideas about a series of short stories, I found myself focusing upon theoretical thematic scenarios and plots centered upon  the primary charaacters' puzzling failure to understand that most elementary human reality: that of formally and  mentally recognizing they  alive upon a rotating planet flying at 66,000 miles per hour thought a blackened expanding universe.  Yes, this is my unfortunate observation concerning too many of my fellow earth-dwelling residents: that the majority, despite eating, crying, laughing have remained disconnected to having been born, and then to their unimaginable chagrin, dying, all of us of course somehow mysteriously slated to breath this planet's oxygen mix for an  un-predetermined number of years.  By not understanding this most basic premise my conclusion is that too many individuals remain alienated and  incommunicado from life itself.  Not a particularly good situation when awakening upon a new morning, the birds singing, the sun shining.

I mention this in relation to taxi only to point out that the majority of my fellow taxi colleagues can be similarly categorized,because, though sitting in a taxi day after day after month after year they seem to continually display little understanding of the minute to minute reality screaming at them.  Why this is utterly important is simple.  People both in the local government  and taxi associations are making decisions that ultimately frame those daily 12 hour forays beneath the top-light, and if you sit there like a cow grazing in a field you will suddenly and unexpectedly be facing the total horror of the fatal slaughterhouse.  Dismembering surely is something best avoided though surely that is what has occurred to our local industry, a de-facto deregulation fragmenting us into so many disparate parts and pieces.  Clearly it is hard to function with your head in the Wallingford neighborhood while your feet reside somewhere on Capital Hill, with your hands shifting sand on Alki beach.

A colleague commented upon my last posting, saying I have been ignoring the problems and issues and poor decisions generated by BYG (Yellow Taxi); and that there are other concerned cabbies out there other than just me, phrasing his observation as "more than just you" which of course I agree with wholeheartedly. And please, keep those all those comments coming.  I appreciate the feedback and points of view regardless of attitude and opinion  one way or the other.  Doesn't NPR say something like that during their "letter" section?  God! I am becoming an Upper-Middle-Class American right before my very eyes!

In terms of Yellow, I suggest rereading sections of my last two entries to understand that I have been both hinting and placing blame upon Yellow and the other associations, because, for one, agreeing to renegotiate a finished plan previously approved by the City Council; two, accepting the clear deregulation of the local industry; and finally, three, having the temerity thinking they held the legal authority to represent over three thousand and counting independent owner operators.  If you don't remember being asked your permission it's because you were not asked.  And of course the City of Seattle and King County are also culpable because they too assumed a representative authority neither they nor the associations hold.  Written permission from all of us was and is required.  Obviously it was never given.   One could say that all of us witnessed a "governmental" amateur hour which means many holes remain, potentially allowing for various legal openings.  Is anyone out there ready to try again?

My response to the criticism that I am or have been operating in a personally created "self-appointed universe" is to point out my many efforts over the past 6-8 years to organize all the lease-drivers into a cohesive whole.  Each time the interest has been underwhelming.  As I keep saying, while one person can be at least temporarily effective, ie my successful L&I intervention, ultimately it is group
effort that not only just provokes the notion of change but actually achieves real and final resolution.  Too often typical governmental and cooperate response is to chop off the snake's head only to find themselves strangled by the remaining body. Check out one of my all time favorite movies, "The Battle of Algiers" to see how the colonial French failed in that particular effort.  I also refer you to to the late 1940s and early 1950s struggle the French had in Indochina against the Viet-Minh. While leaders are necessary, they can only point hopefully in the correct direction.  Numbers, and their full participation, is the ultimate route to victory.  More than Martin Luther King  Jr. had to be bitten by the Selma police dogs, the blood and final redemption shared.

Oh Yeah?

Sitting on the Crowne Plaza taxi stand I notice an "old hippie" looking fellow taking my picture.  When I roll down my window, he yells, "Go back to your own country, you f___king bastard!"   It is hard to return to where you already are but hey, it reminds me how so many of my fellow cabbies are treated.  Lately I have had a spate of passengers saying 'How glad they are!" to have either a white or American driver.  I have stopped commenting upon such racism and just take the fools where they need to go, which is certainly directly to hell!

Alexa the Ragdoll, Queen of San Miguel de Allende

I mention Alexa, a 14 year-old "ragdoll" cat I met ruling the San Miguel "no-kill" animal shelter because a local Seattle cabbie, along with his wife, raise that feline breed.  Twice after soaks we walked confined pooches and visited the cats.  Alexa was found in a local field. Go to the San Miguel SPCA website and see her picture.

"Third World" down at the Coleman Dock

If we needed more examples of the City of Seattle's failure to enforce anything concerning taxi I give you  as "prime specimen number one" what is occurring down at the Pier-52 Ferry Dock.  Due to construction, disembarking foot passengers are forced to run a gauntlet of town-car (Gypsy cab) drivers who harass and grab, especially anyone having the misfortune to be carrying a suitcase.  I suggest, if bored, go down there yourself and watch the fun and games.  And don't forget to bring your luggage!  What in the world is the collective City of Seattle thinking?

Book List

As part of my working up to forming a political ad agency I have been reading various books.  I highly recommend all of these:

Washington by Meg Greenfield

This Town by Mark Leibovich

Heist, Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, His Republican Allies, and the Buying of Washington by Peter Stone

Putin's Kelptocracy by Karen Dawisha


  1. Part I to your current post:

    All flowery rhetoric aside Joe, you have failed to answer any of the points I have made in my response to your post and perhaps this is why you have failed in terms of trying to create some kind of organization that could best represent the interests of those who lease.

    For example, you continuously bring up your “sole” efforts in relation to L&I, but, in a real sense, have you taken any time to analyze the impact of the cost of L&I, how it lead to a higher fare in the midst of the Great Recession and how that cost and higher fare drove down everyone’s overall profit ratio as a result, especially at night?

    After all, if you examine this issue on its own terms, then everyone’s lease rate went up more than $200 a month to cover the cost of L&I (assuming you worked full time) and while, in theory, a higher fare was supposed to lead to some kind of numerical balance in terms of revenue generation to pay for the insurance, it actually lead to lower overall ridership due to that additional fare cost, thus leading to a lower profit ratio for all.

    Thus, what exactly did you achieve with L&I, other than higher operational costs for those who lease and lower profit ratios?

    Next, you keep on calling this “deregulation”, but what happened is not deregulation since parts of this industry are still heavily regulated.

    Lets use L&I as an example.

    While we are still paying for L&I in the land of diminishing returns, those who work with the TNCs are not and many of their “independent operators” work full time as well.

    Why the discrepancy?

    Even the costs of an operator’s license are unbalanced ($185 to $50) and there are still fixed requirements for the traditional parts of this industry (such as timesheets and a blown up license decal), as opposed to a less controlled environment for the TNCs.

    Thus, what would you have done at the negotiation table?

    Put unenforceable quotas on the TNCs?

    Outlaw them?

    Ask for even further deregulation so the playing field is more equal?

  2. Part II to your current post:

    Leadership demands that you know when, where and how to pick your battles and whether you can win them on their own terms.

    Furthermore, there are no legal loopholes in terms of suing a city based on discretionary enforcement capability.

    In other words, what are your legal grounds to demand that they hire more inspectors if there is no money in the budget for that kind of hiring spree or will you just assume that fines will cover all the costs?

    Even your assumption in terms of capitulation comes with a caveat.

    So Orange Cab walked away from the negotiation table. What did it achieve and even if the other companies walked away, on what basis do you assume that the outcome would have been any different?

    If anything, walking away might have made things worse, not better for these struggling companies and single owners, but even in that respect, part of their struggles are also self imposed because they have still not adapted to the changes in the market.

    In other words, they are still operating as though they are the only game in town, when clearly that time has passed.

    While true that there is a huge glut in terms of supply, which affects everyone’s earnings, at some point, this supply will self adjust and the reasons for it are quite simple.

    If you are not making any money in this profession, then why stay in it!

    Again, being a leader means more than just a clever turn of phrase.

    Being a leader means having a grasp of all the issues and what drove this change in the market.

    After all Joe, this change is not just about Bezos having the ear of those who run the city. Yes, he most definitely had an influence, but WHY did he have that kind of influence? How much money and jobs is he bringing to our city and what was Uber offering that the more traditional aspects of this industry could not or would not?

    You also have to take a look at the operational model of the TNCs and see if there is anything to be learned from them because obviously the public wanted these services and there must have been a reason for this.

    Last and most important, you have yet to give a valid reason for why the TNCs cannot exist.

    While true that there were some discriminatory aspects to this equation, are you aware that the TNCs can also make the very same argument. In other words, on what basis should they be denied entry into a market that is already being controlled by private entities?

    Leadership demands that you must have an answer to all these questions first and once you have these answers, come up with a plan of action that is reflective of these answers.

    On the other hand, asking everyone to give money towards a lawsuit where they have little or no direct stake in it and has little to no chance of succeeding is not my idea or definition of leadership.