Catch-22 and Freedom

When I told him I didn’t like Obama’s policies he replied, “Well Bush was a terrible president!”… to which I agreed. He looked at me dumbfounded.  It seems I had taken the wind out of his sails. You see, it is much easier to attack somebody’s candidate than actually defend your party’s own positions.


Political discussions are always fascinating because, in a two party system, people naturally assume that if you are against a certain politician then you are for the other side.  Instead of defending Obama’s policies, my friend decided to attack “my candidate”. The fact is I did vote for Bush, but I have no allegiance to him.  He was a public servant and it was his job to serve the public’s needs. I that regard I believe he failed. Just because I voted for him does not mean I am forever obliged to defend his policies.

People on both sides of the political spectrum are always trying to figure out who’s on their “friends and enemies” list so they know who is owed when payment is due. My political friends and enemies list is entirely based on who gives me more freedom. Joseph Hellers famous satirical book Catch-22, which centers around American aviators during World War II. The pilots come to the conclusion that anybody who shoots at them is the enemy.  Since their superiors send them out on missions to get shot at, their Commanding Officers should be treated as the enemy as well. Hence, the aviators always feel that they are surrounded by enemies.

I have the same attitude towards politicians. Anybody who restricts my freedoms is an enemy regardless of political affiliation. The sad fact is that both political parties have morphed into one general party, Progressives, with each infringing more and more upon our individual freedoms.

Republicans tend to have better policies for business. However, over the years that has morphed into the party that promotes corporate welfare. Corporate welfare tends to empower large companies and hurt small business owners.  On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have policies that tend to favor workers but these polices add undue costs to business owners and, ironically, end up hurting job seekers.

I now find myself like a character in Catch-22 where both parties have become my enemy!

New advances in technology have reshaped the discussion over governance. Changes have come so rapidly that it has left both parties perplexed as to how they are to position themselves. Technology has reshaped the debate about the future of freedom. Ironically, many techies align themselves with the political Left but are starting companies that are disrupting industries beholden to the Left’s principals.

In Austin TX where I live, the two ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft left the city after city council imposed new restrictions on them. In a nutshell, regulators wanted to add new regulations upon their drivers that both companies felt were too onerous. Once passed, both companies summarily closed their doors and ceased operations within the city.

The beneficiaries of these new regulations were the existing taxi companies and the unionized workforce. The taxi companies in Austin pay the city $400 a year per taxi. The companies then lease the permits to the drivers for $250 to $295 a week. For Yellow Cab, which controls more than 60 percent of the market, that works out to nearly $6.8 million a year in revenue from permits alone. By having Uber and Lyft leave, the city guaranteed the future cash flow of these medallions (taxi licenses) and guaranteed the current profitability of these three companies. The other beneficiaries were the unionized taxi drivers who no longer have to compete with the part-time Uber and Lyft drivers

With Uber and Lyft now gone from Austin, Austinites have less options for getting around town. Uber and Lyft created thousand of jobs for workers, increased the tax base for the city and provided safer driving conditions for all concerned. In addition, ride sharing in Austin decreased DUI’s by 23%!

Upon reflection,  I could see why the measure to keep Uber and Lyft operating in Austin failed. Uber and Lyft represent freedom for the individual which, as a voting block, is not well organized. The taxi companies had a natural ally in the Republican party defending their rights, while the unionized drivers had a natural ally on the Democratic side of the aisle. It is through this process, and the abilities of both political parties to get their people out to vote, that doomed Uber and Lyft. Individualist and Libertarians, by nature, do not coalesce around groups and get out to vote as a block. Because of this, those companies are no longer here.

Until we truly get a party that represents freedom, expect more and more of it to be taken away.


NOTE: Steve and I write our posts separately and rarely discuss them until they are done. So, the irony of this post followed by mine below should not be lost on anyone! Steve’s reason for why Uber and Lyft lost out in Austin, “Individualist and Libertarians, by nature, do not coalesce around groups and get out to vote as a block”  is exactly what I conclude we need to do in 2016 to get choices other than Clinton or Trump.  Please read both posts…Steve’s them mine below.