We'd never call it "snake oil" ...
So when it came time for an administrative law judge to decide if another Taxi company could make it in the Mile High, he depended in part on experts, or as they are known in professional circles "paid opinion witnesses," who could argue the five-county metro area needed another cab company (a cab company that would charge less and offer better service than the big companies). It just so happens one of those paid opinion witnesses was hired by ... the big cab companies.
People paid to provide testimony? That's crazy talk! Only in Denver, right? Wrong ...
Seems just north of the border in Canada, the same paid opinion witness employed here in Denver to "discover" that we don't need cheaper rides and better service found the same thing in Canada. There, paid opinion witness Ray Mundy relied on 17-year-old data and ignored newer data that conflicted with his beliefs, according to a newspaper account.
At least one person challenged him. David Seymour of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy called out Mr. Mundy in this op-ed in the StarPhoenix newspaper in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Isn't the Internet great? You can track guys like this as they go town to town, offering the same paid opinions for whomever is hiring:
Taxi study needs better evidence
BY DAVID SEYMOUR, SPECIAL TO THE STARPHOENIX SEPTEMBER 24, 2010
Following is the viewpoint of Seymour, director of the Saskatchewan office of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
This summer Saskatchewan's two largest cities received and digested report by transportation consultant Ray Mundy of the Tennessee Transportation and Logistics Foundation.
Mundy has been busy in Saskatchewan this year, filing 170-page reports on the taxi industries of Regina and Saskatoon, at a cost of $45,000 and $50,000, respectively. Citizens should consider what's not in the reports before they decide whether they got value for money.
Behind any debate on taxi regulations looms the question of whether municipalities should stipulate the number of cabs allowed to operate, and the prices they charge. The alternative is for municipalities to focus on safety and basic driver competence, and then leave the questions of price and numbers up to the marketplace.
This very question was debated by panels of experts at the International Association of Taxi Regulators' annual conference in Chicago this past weekend.
In Mundy's reports, there is no such debate. Like a child who incriminates himself by denying a misdeed even before being accused, the first sections of each report reveal where the inquiry won't be going. They're entitled, Why Regulate Taxis?, and go on to answer the posed question.
Competition serves consumers well in every other private industry, it seems, but taxis are somehow different. Mundy explains how several U.S. cities disastrously removed controls on prices charged and who could enter the industry in the 1980s. On this he is largely correct, and offers several quotes from studies of that period.
Incredibly, the newest study quoted dates to 1993, and the entire report even fails to mention the quite different experiences and research that have come to light in the past 17 years.
Read the rest of the article here.