Twice, city council sides with freedom; things are looking up

Marie Mott scolds city council for its indifference to police abuse and the poor in Chattanooga. (Photo David Tulis)

CHATTANOOGA, June 4, 2019 — City council tonight skips socialism a second time in what I would like to think is an intentional preference for an open city rather than a controlled and regulated city.

Council members are harassed and bothered by a public hearing and discussion regarding a proposed city-created business improvement district, or BID. The motion to create the BID failed for lack of a second. Business bigwigs such as Mitch Patel, Kim White of River City Co. and former mayor Jon Kinsey stormed out, stunned that their well-laid plan faltered.

The temporary death of the proposal marks the second time city council has shied away from creating a regulatory scheme. The first was the failure of a dockless scooter ordinance that perished (at least temporarily) May 13 at a city council meeting for lack of a second.

Good result, wrong motive?

I won’t argue that there are principled people on the city council who are conscious of the kind of arguments I make here regarding open economies, constitutional government and free markets. It would be a bit idealistic to credit the members with a free market analysis which would generally lead against the creation of regulatory structures or “assessment’-imposing authorities.

Dockless scooters are an inevitable advance and self-propulsion and pesonal movement, or, as some would say, in transportation. The dockless scooter companies that would like to come to Chattanooga generally want there to be a regulation so that there is a clear legal context for their labors once they arrive.

Lime and Bird, two major producers of the scooters, have indicated they hesititate to start busines in Chattanooga without there being an ordinance in place. Smaller competitors might hop in ahead of them, taking the risk of legal uncertainty. I hope so.

Because they’re corporations, Bird and Lime don’t love freedom or love liberty and so really cannot be expected to propose a total absence of regulation, as I have. They cannot be expected to make a request of the city that it leave to these entrepreneurs the maintenance of scooters, their disposition on sidewalks and near public buildings.

Critics say scooter providers have too little control over the use of their two-wheeled devices. Riders leave the scooters in bad places, like litter. Users are killed in accidents; in Nashville, the death of renter 26-year-old Brady Gaulke has prompted Mayor David Briley to propose a ban.

I don’t want to say too much about gains for liberty in Chattanooga. The failure of bills in city council suggest headway for liberty and a free market. The primary beneficiaries of a free market are people at the bottom, whom are best served by cheap goods and services and who are price conscious about every detail of their lives.

The scooter industry is ideal for poor people who do not have the funds or incomes to buy cars, repair them and pay for insurance policies widely thought to be requisite for private modes of travel.

The council’s disinterest in a BID is healthy, as BIDs operate pragmatically to uplift certain city districts. But they reject principles of liberty, cooperation and voluntaryism. If 82 percent of owners in the district approve of its creation, let them annually self-assess a fee and donate it to a nonprofit group seeking to uplift, tidy and patrol the area with “ambassadors.”

Let them ignore those who opt out or refuse to participate. They’ll come ’round eventually, and voluntarily pay the assessment, in a spirit of amity and neigborliness that will eventually creep into their souls.

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