September 16, 2011

"Some Cabbies Given Right to Say No to Racy Ads."

"The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission unanimously approved a regulation that would prevent owners of yellow taxi medallions, who often lease drivers the right to operate taxis in New York, from installing any signage a taxicab owner 'reasonably' deems inappropriate."
For Mohan Singh, the breaking point came last year when his granddaughter, who was 6 at the time, saw a seductive woman in an advertisement affixed to the roof of his taxicab. She proudly announced... "I want to be a FlashDancer."...

Still, the regulation falls short of helping drivers like Osman Chowdhury, who owns neither his medallion nor his cab. Mr. Chowdhury, 45, said he routinely drove his leased taxi to his mosque, where, among fellow Muslims, whom he called “conservative,” he stood out like a black sheep due to the images of lingerie models and strippers atop his vehicle....

[S]everal drivers who own their cabs but not the medallions, said medallion owners typically earned $100 to $200 a month from companies like VeriFone Media, one of the largest suppliers of rooftop taxicab advertisements....

Vehicle owners who do not own medallions generally are not compensated for advertisements, they said, even though the signs weigh down their vehicles, raising gasoline costs.
I'm surprised that so little money is made on those ads. Why not ban them entirely? They cause extra consumption of gasoline and more exhaust in the city. It hardly seems worth it. Get rid of the clutter. And then no one needs to worry about what to be offended about and whether the offense is "reasonable."

64 comments:

Carol_Herman said...

If this is true, what makes you think they'd stop for a religious Jew, who was hailing a cab?

What about Blacks?

What about women they deem "whores?"

How are they making these calls?

Why don't we have white cab drivers?

Fran Lebowitz is white. And, when she arrived in NYC, that's how she found work! She drove cabs! (Now she drives a 1979 pearl white Checker!) You know, I didn't even know those old boats were even available to buy ... by anyone outside of an owner of a "yellow fleet?"

Those cabs were comfortable!

Mark O said...

Ah, the all-purpose "reasonable." A wond that always requires litigation. More beer for us.

HT said...

What, cab news and no mention of the Crowne Vic?

http://www.npr.org/2011/09/16/140503972/a-beloved-car-of-cops-and-cabbies-meets-its-end

So - does or does not NYC have the medallian system? We are trying to prevent that in DC.

David said...

So little?

For a New York cabbie, $200 a month is likely pretty meaningful.

RC3 said...

"I'm surprised that so little money is made on those ads. Why not ban them entirely?"

More command & control mindset. Why stop with a narrowly tailored rule when you can make a sweeping rule instead.

Geoff Matthews said...

How much effect do they have on mileage? They're plastic frames.

As far as racy ads, if the cabbie owns the medallion, he should have a say in what ads he lugs around.

But, having said that, should a pharmacist have a right to refuse to dispense drugs they find objectionable (ie, morning-after pill)?

Cedarford said...

Even though I would support a ban on Muslim immigration to the US and stop "family reunification" of whole interconnected tribes from Palestine and Iraq in the USA because I think there is a Clash of Civilizations - I support the Muslim cabbies on this.

This is on grounds that employees do have a right to object to images and culture in the workplace inflicted that they strongly object to. While in most cases the employer can say "tough" there are some civil rights, gender discrmination, and other torts that could come into play - plus a harmonious workplace with accepted norms is generally a more productive workplace.

Trooper York said...

You have no idea how tight the money is for a cabbie. He is barely making it with the increased taxes and the cost of gas and the tolls. You have to be kidding me right?

$200 a month is a big, big deal.

Not everybody has tenure. Jeeze.

Trooper York said...

The more important issue is that there is a bill pending that would allow gypsy cabs or car service cabs to pick up fares in the outer boroughs. Which they do anyway. But the yellow cabs are fighting it even though they give you a lot of shit when you want to go to Brooklyn.

Most savy outer borough people don't use yellow cabs anymore. You call your local car service for a flat fee instead of getting ripped off with a metered cab.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Perhaps it should go further. Employees of a company should be able to veto that company's advertising, if the employee deems that advertising offsnsive.

For example, if a clerical employee of Ralph Lauren (or whoever owns the brandname) were to find an ad suggestive, then the company should be compelled to withdraw the ad.

For after all, that employee probably identifies himself/herself as "an employee of Ralph Lauren." And it's demeaning.

Well, OK, I don't believe that. I think if the ad on your cab is not unwawful then you shouldn't be compelled to drive that cab. But surely no one should be compelled to modify the ad to suit you.

Christopher said...

Um, Althouse, your salary is showing.... That's real money to most Americans. And why so quick to ban the lawful use of private property?

ricpic said...

If this is true, what makes you think they'd stop for a religious Jew, who was hailing a cab?

Hey, for two seconds Carol Herman finally says something.

But Carol, if you want to stay in the good graces of all bien pensants you'd better layoff the truth about "sweet" muslims.

campy said...

Amazing what consideration you get when everyone's afraid you'll blow them up.

phx said...

I don't often complain out loud about it, but I would love to live in a world where everything is a little less cluttered by advertising.

edutcher said...

Lemme guess, this wasn't an issue for Bloomie when Protestants, Catholics, or Jews complained; it could wait until the Muzzlims complained and then it demanded immediate attention.

"...the signs weigh down their vehicles, raising gasoline costs.I'm surprised that so little money is made on those ads. Why not ban them entirely? They cause extra consumption of gasoline and more exhaust in the city."

You've got to be kidding. The signs are a couple of pieces of cardboard mounted on a metal and plastic frame. If it weighs more than 2 pounds I'd be surprised.

Cedarford said...

Peter - "Well, OK, I don't believe that. I think if the ad on your cab is not unwawful then you shouldn't be compelled to drive that cab. But surely no one should be compelled to modify the ad to suit you."

Unrealistic, Peter. Organizations have and will continue to not allow certain types of advertising in their properties, in their vehicles or media medium they own - but will allow more acceptable advertising.

Has to do with meeting desired corporate image, protecting branding, and the wishes of owners and employees...and fear of public backlash against their goods and services from hawking significantly objectionalble ads.
It is not just "what is legal". Much of what is lewd or offensive is legal.
The wishes of employees do count and their options are not limited to say your piece then shut up or lose your job. Piss off enough of the workforce and you lose morale & harmony, then teamwork, then productivity.

edutcher said...

campy said...

Amazing what consideration you get when everyone's afraid you'll blow them up.

General George Crook once observed, "The American Indian inspires respect for his rights only so long as he inspires terror for his rifle".

Substitute Moslem crazy and IED and things ain't changed much in 125 years.

timmaguire42 said...

What makes me think they'll stop for a religious Jew is the Taxi & Limousine Commission, which does not allow drivers to pick and choose their fares and goes undercover to keep drivers honest.

I agree with sorepaw that the medallion system is a travesty; we'd be much better off without it but it's never going away.

As for the advertisements, my preference is for less--our lives are cheapened by the constant assault. While there's not much we can do about that (much as I might like an outright ban, I don't see how one could be justified), it's churlish, disrespectful and unnecessary to demand that drivers spend their shift sitting beneath a picture they find offensive or embarrassing. Just stick another ad on the roof. What's the problem?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Why not ban them entirely?

And make a few more jobs illegal?

That's how we got in the mess we're in right now. People felt so much compassion for the less well-off and the kind of jobs they did, that they went and made their jobs illegal!

Synova said...

One of my teachers tossed off a "privacy of their own bedroom" remark the other day and I thought, "but it's not about what goes on in private bedrooms, is it, it's about what we see in the public square."

And I'm not sure what I think about that except that I think that we probably aren't talking about the right thing.

I don't understand what's going on with taxi cabs. Am I right in thinking that someone decided not to allow just anyone to run a taxi (subverting the free market - I note to myself while I consider one of my other teachers)? So you've got to have this "medallion" thing. Some taxi drivers own their taxis and some of them drive for someone else. Right so far?

And not even the ones that own their own cab control what advertisements are on it?

Someone who works for someone else ought to be able to *request* not to have offensive advertisement, and the person they work for ought to have the flexibility to be flexible if they choose, but I'm thinking they don't since, if I understand correctly, the people who own their taxis have no choice either.

Excuse me?

What sort of racket are they running over there? That doesn't even make any sense.

Someone is making bucks off this racket and it far far exceeds the $200 a cabbie gets. You can just see the smokey room and the guy explaining that he can have an ad up on every third taxi in the city for a favor or a kickback. Someone is able to force private (!) owners of taxi cabs to display specific ads. They didn't give themselves this power without a reason.

Synova said...

As for the simple garishness and essential lack of elegance...

If it's someplace else that becomes quaint and colorful local culture. Instead of a boring yellow cab with a lingerie model on the banner we need chrome and dingle-balls and streamers and a 3-D hologram of the preferred deity or saint above a salvaged beemer grill.

(I'm serious.)

Titus said...

I just watched My Beautiful Laundrette. I loved it when it came out and love it more today. Daniel Day Lewis tour de force. The Paki is hot.

I love brown people.

Tits.

Random Arrow said...

In Tahoe, cabs come up from Nevada. A few minutes away. Cabs with ads: “KIT KAT RANCH,” or “MOONLIGHT BUNNY!” I keep looking for a menu. With a little graphic explanation of the menu.

It’s an insurance industry problem, really. Not a Mosque. Or a church thingy. It’s all about insurance. Some math wiz needs to do a correlated study showing that the effects of soft-porn cab ads are as dangerous as texting or talking on cell phones while driving.

I just read the letters, myself. I never look at the pics. I get a ‘good driver’ discount for not looking. Now, live women on the sidewalks ...

Tim said...

This is America.

All the taxicabs should have ads for cable porn and strip clubs.

If the taxicab drivers don't like it, they can go back to wherever it is they came from, and deal.

The feminists will be pissed too, but that's a feature, not a bug.

Eric said...

Why not ban them entirely?

I have a better idea. Why not get rid of the medallions and let people who want to drive a cab go into that business. Then they can put whatever ads they want on the top. Or no ads.

Titus said...

Now I am watching The Notebook. Ryan Gosling, is the bomb, for a white guy. Rachel McAdams is fucking hot.

blake said...

Piss off enough of the workforce and you lose morale & harmony, then teamwork, then productivity.

Which should be the prerogative of the business owner, shouldn't it?

Synova said...

"Which should be the prerogative of the business owner, shouldn't it?"

Which is why this is so totally weird.

A fellow who owns his taxi is the business owner! So why does it take some "commission" to grant the taxi cab owner the right to object to an advertisement?

The cab driver who owns his cab should be able to run his cab. Why is that not true? Because obviously, it's not.

Calypso Facto said...

What Eric said. If the city didn't create an artificial barrier to entry those who like ad-free cabs could try it as business model and find out if drivers and riders preferred it. Power (and choice) to the people!

Althouse displays her big-gov tendencies, wanting to jump in to control the acts and preferences of others. Maybe we could compare her authoritarian reduction of ad revenue to a thief sneaking in the cab owner's house at night to steal $100?

NYTNewYorker said...

If you (the driver) don't like it....drive a cab somewhere else.

Creeping sharia law, before you know it, you turn around and it's irreversible....

Let's not be like the U. K.

Ann Althouse said...

"So little? For a New York cabbie, $200 a month is likely pretty meaningful."

You're misreading the facts. The cabbie makes nothing from the ads. The medallion owner gets it all, even as the cabbie must pay extra for gas.

Christopher in MA said...

"Amazing what consideration you'll get when everyone's afraid you'll blow them up."

This. Hey, Omar, if I have to shut up and swallow "Piss Christ," you can suck this up. Don't like it? Fuck you and get the hell back to your sandblasted hellhole.

A. Shmendrik said...

Easy for you to say - you're making the large coin routing folks to Amazon, left and right, day in day out...

PETER V. BELLA said...

Here is a better idea. If they want to drive cabs and keep themselves employed they should STFU.

It is time to stop this sensitivity madness. No one drafted them or forced them to drive cabs. This diversity, multi-culti, and sensitive non-sense has gone too far.

SDN said...

I can only imagine the massive outcry if a Christian or Jew had raised such an objection.

However, these are Muslims, so their religious conditions are entirely reasonable. Not only are they our little kumbayah brothers who can't be expected to live under the same laws as anyone else, but they have a nasty habit of cutting the heads off people who interfere in what the Koran commands.

EDH said...

"Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up."

- Travis Bickle

AllenS said...

Why not ban ads from blogs? They are an eyesore.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"Why not ban them entirely?"

Because banning speech sucks.

More important is the existence, acceptence, and thoughtlessness of medallions.

Creating a class system in New York because some loudmouth wanted to make a bunch of money by creating a taxi guild where there need be none, New Yorkers pay more for less.

What is unseen is the message sent to those who can't afford the barrier to entry, and hate the synthetic nature of this corruption of freedom and opportunity--at the cost of many to the benefit of few.

T J Sawyer said...

No one is forced to drive a taxi with an offensive ad. The drivers could simply walk away. If any significant number did, the ads would change.

That is how community standards are established. Manhattan's are quite different than, say, Waukesha.

Meanwhile, the owner of the $700,000 medallion, like the owner of this blog, should get to install whatever advertising they like - that meets community standards.

And in this community ...

NotquiteunBuckley said...

On a serious note, the comment about decreased fuel economy made me realize something: I am more intelligent, politically, at this juncture, than the POTUS.

Were the moron to have spent stimulus money fitting streetlights in major cities (red states especially) with technology to reduce time spent idling, which would actually be a "green initiative" but also 100% reasonable and tangible to milliions upon millions of workers/drivers, every single day, he wouldn't be where he is, or going where he's going.

How much carbon is emitted waiting at stop lights with no cars in the cross-traffic lane?

How much stress?

In my city, we have lights that stop large, three lane roads (35mph) in the middle of the block - actually to be more precise about 3/4 of the way up a block, not even at the alley located halfway up the block - for no apparent reason. There is no cross-traffic. The lights stop during rush hour and during other times, but at no discernable point which would justify their existence.

rcommal said...

"I want to be a FlashDancer."

Struck by lightning, that little girl was, in that moment, it must be.

***

That can't have happened, the way it is described. Oh, it's quite possible that the girl said, "I want to be a FlashDancer." But she had to have some knowledge prior to that; the whole story makes no sense at all otherwise.

She proudly announced that she suddenly knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

This is bullshit from "she" to "up," with the most dishonest part personified by "suddenly." It takes just seconds to recognize such. Yet people will waste time expending tremendous energy in paying extended attention to such obvious drivel and all of the like sorts. No doubt there is a reason.

walter said...

"Mr. Chowdhury, 45, said he routinely drove his leased taxi to his mosque, where, among fellow Muslims, whom he called “conservative,” he stood out like a black sheep due to the images of lingerie models and strippers atop his vehicle"

Welcome to America. Deal.

Youngblood said...

Althouse wrote:

"Why not ban them entirely? They cause extra consumption of gasoline and more exhaust in the city. It hardly seems worth it."

Toplights serve to increase the visibility of taxis and make them more recognizable. Banning the ads would reduce the weight of the toplight assembly by a few pounds, but, as they provide a competitive advantage, cab companies would still mount them, and medallion owners would still require lessees to mount them. (There are safety considerations, too.)

So, even if the ads were banned, "extra" gasoline would still be consumed, and "more" exhaust would still be generated.

Now, I bet that the taxi drivers complaining about the weight of the ads don't turn down fares to FlashDancers, or to whatever Broadway shows are currently being advertised...

walter said...

I can't believe we have fallen into the caluclus of mpg vs stripper ad.

Youngblood said...

By the way, anyone familiar with NYC knows that the strip club ads on taxi toplights typically show a model's face with the name and location of the club. Here's an example. There are two more in this blog entry.

Maybe Mohan Singh's daughter just doesn't want to have to wear a hijab when she grows up?

Anyway, I'll bet that Mohan Singh and Osman Chowdhury don't turn down customers who want to go too and from strip clubs. I'd be more impressed (and take them more seriously) if they did.

Fuck 'em.

ws4whgfb said...

I think a better solution would be to deregulate the taxi industry so that drivers could own their own vehicle. There could be more taxis and lower fares a better solution for driver the consumer.

Oligonicella said...

"Why not ban them entirely?"

I dunno, free speach?

Oligonicella said...

Ann Althouse --

"The medallion owner gets it all, even as the cabbie must pay extra for gas."

You're quoting a cabbie that doesn't want to drive the cab as provided by the company. I'd bet he'd strip out the rear seat if it saved him change. So what?

He always has the option to not drive the cab. See? Free will all around.

Or perhaps you believe he's owed his job as he defines it?

AllenS said...

You'll never find a cheap, plastic, racy ad on a goat, that's for sure.

Titus said...

Sex with a cab driver can be hot.

Cabbie Sex.

Clouds

Bartender Cabbie said...

Titus is correct. I have leased and owned cabs in the Republic of Texas and a cabbie gets no revenue off the advertisements. And 200 bucks a a lot of money when times are tight. In Houston you can ask to have a sign removed but must pay a weekly surcharge. Most major cab outfits are organzied crime. Dig deep enough and you will see it.

Marshal said...

Can anyone explain how these fit together?

1a "For Mohan Singh, the breaking point came last year when his granddaughter, who was 6 at the time, saw a seductive woman in an advertisement affixed to the roof of his taxicab. She proudly announced... "I want to be a FlashDancer."

1b "Why not ban them entirely?"

2 "a mind that gets stuck in that mode [of basing policy on anecdotes] can't be trusted making broad policy decisions and imposing requirements on all of us.

Marshal said...

"Maybe Mohan Singh's daughter just doesn't want to have to wear a hijab when she grows up?"

Singh is a sikh name, so while they have some ususual traditional attire the hijab is not among them.

timmaguire42 said...

A lot of commenters here are bound up in free market principles. The "free market" has no place in a discussion of New York Taxi Cabs.

There's a lot of confusion about the medallions. The medallion system is how the city keeps the streets from becoming completely clogged with aggressive dangerous taxi drivers (yes, it could be much worse than it is). Every taxi must have a medallion stapled to its hood. There are approximately 32,000 medallions. But it's more than a license. I don't know what the prices were at the last medallion auction, but they go for about a quarter million dollars. To the individual medallion owner (who may or may not be the taxi owner, who may or may not be the taxi driver), the medallion is probably his only significant asset, his retirement fund. That's a big part of why we are locked into the medallion system--they are worth a fortune and people make real sacrifices to get one.

But the downside is that the medallion represents another hand in the pot--it's why you pay a lot of money to be driven from point A to point B while they guy driving you there works long hours for little money. Between you and the driver there are unseen hands taking money out of the transaction.

Which answer's Carol Hermann's question about why there are so few white taxi drivers--the driver is one step above day laborer. Taxis are a way for determined hard-working immigrants to get their start in this country. They are low skill opportunities for people with few options.

These are the kind of immigrants we want. They work hard, they're not on welfare, their children will go to college. They are real Americans. Even if their English sucks.

To advocate throwing them onto welfare or out of the country rather than put different ad on the roof of their car is stupid.

T J Sawyer said...

And here we have a hard-working law school student working to pay off her loans. She's expressing herself via first-amendment rights and you want to cut off the first-amendment rights of her employer to advertise.

What has law school come to!

HT said...

Maybe it's the medallion system that's keeping the drivers poor. I really don't know.

A few years ago in Washington, we still had the zone system. Under that scheme, drivers could make a good salary or wages. They were NOT one step up from day laborer. And their English is pretty good. Most are very educated. At the time, we did some figuring, and came up with about $60,000 a year that the drivers were making under the zone system. Some rides cost a ridiculous amount of money (as everyone knows, the system was designed for members of congress...to get them around cheaply). Most riders wanted to go to the fare system and under the then new mayor (Fenty) it was changed. Me personally, I like it MUCH better. It's cheaper, and I don't feel ripped off as much. The drivers no doubt don't make as much money but I'd say they still do pretty good. I was always a little bit offended at the offense they took at having to go to the farebox. They had it good before, unrealistically so.

Fred4Pres said...

Checker is out of business. When is the last time you saw one on active taxi duty in New York? Lebowitz bought a restored one.

Fred4Pres said...

AllenS said...
You'll never find a cheap, plastic, racy ad on a goat, that's for sure.

9/17/11 6:13 AM



Well yeah Allen, the signs would get in the way of hot goat sex.

David said...

Ann Althouse said...

You're misreading the facts.

True. My apologies.

T J Sawyer said...

at 8:31
"...I don't know what the prices were at the last medallion auction, but they go for about a quarter million dollars. To the individual medallion owner (who may or may not be the taxi owner, who may or may not be the taxi driver), the medallion is probably his only significant asset, his retirement fund."

It has been a long time since a medallion went for $250K. It is a damn good retirement fund. Try $700K!

Tim said...

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"On a serious note, the comment about decreased fuel economy made me realize something: I am more intelligent, politically, at this juncture, than the POTUS."

Yeah, you and the 46% of the electorate who didn't vote for him.

gutless said...

This a classic case of "don't like the working conditions? Get another job". Clean and simple.

Youngblood said...

"Singh is a sikh name, so while they have some ususual traditional attire the hijab is not among them."

It is a Sikh name, which I knew, but it was late and I conflated the Singh and Chowdhury stories by accident.

However, the mistake does little violence to my point, which is that a young girl who sees nothing more than a pretty female face on an ad probably doesn't mean, "I want to be a stripper," when she says that she wants to be a "FlashDancer". There's something else going on with that.