Posts Tagged ‘Justin Owen’

Not-So-Free Enterprise and VW Jobs

Not-So-Free Enterprise and VW Jobs

Beacon CEO Justin Owen had a Letter to the Editor published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The letter discussed the UAW, VW Chattanooga, and corporate welfare.

Regarding your editorial “The Chattanooga Jobs Payoff” (July 15): Yes, we are honored that the company chose our income-tax-free, low-regulation and business-friendly state for its new SUV. And it’s a welcome announcement for the 2,000 people who will now become Volkswagen employees. But it didn’t come without a cost, and taxpayers may pay an even bigger price if the United Auto Workers has its way.

While you note that Volkswagen “will invest $900 million” in the Chattanooga expansion, you fail to note that at least $230 million of that will come from state and local taxpayers in the form of handouts. Tax credits and job training grants could eventually balloon to as much as one-third of the entire investment, at a cost to taxpayers of at least $115,000 per job.

While it is also great that VW Chattanooga employees sent the UAW packing in February, the union only took a temporary detour. The UAW’s establishment of a dues-free, voluntary union just four days ahead of the expansion announcement was certainly Kabuki theatre. But it raises the question: Will VW workers, who soundly rejected the union in February, be able to withstand the union’s rejuvenated pressure to garner majority support? That may be tough now that the UAW has months to wear down and intimidate employees in their own workplace based on what it calls a “consensus agreement” with VW management.

We must hope that the company will refuse to capitulate to the UAW, or else the union’s dream of organizing the South may well come true, financed by none other than Tennessee taxpayers.

Justin Owen


Beacon Center of Tennessee

Nashville, Tenn.

July 22nd, 2014 | Commentary, Feature

Memphis is Making Freedom a Crime

Memphis is Making Freedom a Crime

The city of Memphis has upped the ante in its vendetta against Lyft and Uber. Just last week, the city issued a cease-and-desist order to the rideshare companies. According to WREG-TV, the police department will now start sending police officers after Uber and Lyft drivers who ignore the demand. (That is, the officers who aren’t still calling in “sick” to protest proposed reductions in benefits packages, a practice that has become contagiously known as the “blue flu.”) It appears Memphis officials will do anything to protect the taxi cartel. But of course, they are doing it under the guise of safety.

Think about that for a moment. If you give a free ride to a buddy, you’re in the clear. But if you charge one red cent for that ride, you’re now a criminal in the eyes of Memphis police. I fail to understand how a financial transaction turns something otherwise benign—and even encouraged by government through pro-carpooling campaigns—into criminal activity. Obviously, whether something is done for free or at a charge should be left to the market, not government, but doesn’t putting a price on something actually make it safer? If you pay for a good or service, you clearly value it more than if you receive it for free. Thus, you will take extra precautions to ensure your safety, and your expectations will be far greater if it’s costing you something in return. After all, when you get something for free, you usually get what you pay for.

So not only is it constitutionally suspect and downright egregious for Memphis to turn something into a crime that would be completely acceptable if no money changed hands, it really defies logic. That’s especially true when the purported purpose is to protect the safety of citizens. But of course, the city is not interested in pubic safety as much as it is cracking down on one industry to protect another. Shame on Memphis for this disgusting display of cronyism.

-Justin Owen

Editor’s Note: If you are a Memphis Uber or Lyft driver and have been targeted by police, tell us your story.

July 17th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

Rapid Response: Uber and Lyft Make Cities Safer?

News broke this weekend that Memphis is following in the footsteps of protectionists in Pennsylvania and Virginia, ordering Uber and Lyft to cease operations. The rideshare companies have riled up the taxi industry, which as I wrote in a previous blog post, operate a near cartel in tandem with most major cities. Cities and states have begun to “crack down” on Uber and Lyft, and now Memphis is kowtowing to the cabbies’ demands.

As the protectionists frame it, safety is their utmost concern. Interestingly, these rideshare companies might actually lead to greater safety. A new article outlines how DUIs have dropped by 11 percent in Philadelphia since the services became available in the city. While, as the article points out, correlation and causation are not interchangeable, the concept is certainly logical.

So when the taxi industry crows that the government must stop Uber and Lyft in the name of safety, data may begin to force them to tweak their messaging. Of course, it’s hard to simply argue that the government should trample on consumer demand and technology just because the competition resulting therefrom cuts into your bottom line. I’ll bet they keep that one in their back pocket for now.

-Justin Owen

July 14th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Recent News

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