If the USA is the bastion of freedom, capitalism and independence, why are cab licenses limited by city bureaucrats? Why not let everyone who qualifies swim in the taxicab business leaving those who cannot stand the waters perish? I just don't get it!
Because historically taxis have engaged in a number of fraudulent and unsavory practices, outright racism in some cases and have generally made cities look bad. So there was a legitimate reason to regulate them in order to ensure that they didn't bilk (or take the long route) for gullible tourists, refuse rides to people of the wrong color, install fake meters, organize into a racket to overcharge customer or skip on carrying decent insurance.
Then, lo-and-behold, the well-meaning regulators were captured by the taxicabs (because they were smart) and turned around and instituted any number of illegitimate regulations designed to stifle competition. This is generally pretty easy in a democracy because when there's a small number of cabbies with a very large interest in certain policies, they can often get their way when there are a large number of citizens with contrary interests. It's the law of diffused costs versus concentrated benefits.
So now, instead of being predictably idiotic with our left/right pro/anti regulation, maybe we should think about stupid regulation versus smart regulation. Then we could distinguish a rule require cabbies to carry insurance for their passengers with one that limits the number of medallions to some artifical number. Or one that requires accurate metering of any form with one that requires a specific brand or type of metering. Or a law that requires cabbies to serve any part of the city with one that requires them to drive home from the airport empty instead of picking up a fare immediately after dropping one off (this one really I don't understand -- there is a line for cabs at the terminal!).
On the other hand, nah, let's just hurf about it....