Memphis is Making Freedom a Crime


July 17, 2014 10:18AM

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.