Saturday, September 11, 2004

City cabbies need a fare increase. They ought to get city health insurance too.

Chicago cab drivers need more income. The amount they charge all of us is relatively low and hasn't been raised in a few years. This Sun-Times article lays out the details. Some of the aldermen understand how hard it is to make a living as a taxi driver. Many of them are remarkably intelligent people who happened not to be lucky enough to be born in the United States and so are first-generation immigrants that would be doctors or lawyers if they were citizens.

Here's one part of the article that caught my attention:

Driver Gregory McGee said a "comprehensive reform package" is needed to address everything from the size of vehicles, lack of insurance and length of the driver work day to cabbie training and performance, and passenger behavior. Fares are only a part of the equation, he said.
"Is this a real occupation or not? If you don't take care of the driver, the driver's not gonna take care of the 2.9 million people in Chicago," McGee said.

One smart thing the City can do is to offer every driver health insurance through a large pool. As an independent contractor, each driver faces the hardship of trying to purchase individual health insurance from a corporation. It's expensive, confusing and bureaucratic. Lots of drivers are uninsured.

But with thousands of drivers of varying levels of health (and different family structures), there's a pool of insurable lives that ought to be formed. Our corporate health care system works best with large pools of people. The City should form one for all drivers, to provide them a reasonable cost for health insurance.

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