Managed Competition Versus the Free Market, In One Photo

Cabstand at Reagan National shows need for ridesharing

I took this photo at 10:30 p.m. earlier this week at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. It’s the taxi stand outside Terminal B, where dozens of tired travelers were waiting in line for cabs to take them to their destinations.

A minute and a half after I snapped this shot, I was in a Mazda driven by a very pleasant man named Alireza, en route to my hotel thanks to the Uber app on my smartphone. Just three taxis had arrived in the interim to take away the long-suffering residents of the DCA cabstand.

It wasn’t even a question of paying for convenience: The Washington Post’s online taxi fare calculator estimates that my trip in a medallion taxi, had I waited for one, would have cost me $17. My Uber ride cost $16.51, at least until the airport tacked on a $4 surcharge.

That $4 was some of the best money I’ve spent in months, but the tangible reminder that entrepreneurs and free markets make people’s lives better when they’re allowed to do so was priceless.

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