I am Connecticut Limo — the incompetent taxi service familiar to all Nutmeggers and Yalies who travel. Transporting people is my vocation; it’s all I am asked to do and yet I fail miserably. You may wonder why I should maneuver into an opinion column. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery — more so than Google or Walmart or even Goldman Sachs. But, sadly, I take for granted those who use me, as if they were a rare traveler and without standards. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the dregs. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as the wise Tupac Shakur observed, “I gotta get paid, Well hey, that’s the way it is.”
I, Connecticut Limo, though I appear to be inept, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me — no, that’s too much to ask of anyone — if you can become aware of the failures of monopoly that I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.
I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than a pencil or airplane or dishwasher because, well, because I am so useless.
Useless? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows truly how useless. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well consider that there are hundreds of thousands of Yalies who have used me, each with a different tale of woe.
Hop in and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye — there’s an employee or two squabbling and a passenger who forgot to pay in advance.
And that’s for the ones who get in. Mostly you spend your time waiting at the airport, calling a closed office.
The most astounding thing about me is this: The absence of a mastermind, or even Google Maps dictating or forcibly directing the countable actions which bring me to and from my destination. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find ourselves lost on the back roads of Connecticut. This is the mystery to which I referred earlier.
I, Connecticut Limo, am a complex combination of mistakes: a mean, spacey, bad driver and so on. But to these mistakes that manifest themselves on the road, an even more extraordinary mistake has been added: a lack of direction from the middle-managers on duty — tens of drivers needing direction, hundreds of customers needing transportation and all in the absence of any human masterminding.
Since only God can make a van, I insist that only God could make me. An unjust, vengeful God.
For, if one is aware that these infelicities will unnaturally, yes, manually, arrange themselves into uncreative and inefficient patters in response to human necessity and demand — then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a renewed emphasis on the need of educating all. Competition is power.
Once a private business has a monopoly over a creative activity such as, for instance, the delivery of the mail, most individuals may argue that the mail could not be efficiently delivered without it. And here is the reason: each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things needed for mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to run a taxi service.
Now, in the absence of faith in free people — in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity — the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “masterminding.” Even when we wait at the post office for hours.
If I, Connecticut Limo, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women fail to do when not incentivized to succeed or competing with others, then those with little faith would have a fair case.
However, there is testimony galore; it’s all around us and on every hand. Driving a car is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of a pencil or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to thousands of other things. Transportation? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they transport the human voice around the world in less than one second; they transport an event visually and in motion to any person’s home seemingly before it happens; they transport 500 passengers from Newark to Tel Aviv in fewer than 12 hours; they fly people from LaGuardia to Orlando for less money than I charge for transporting you from LaGuardia to Phelps Gate.
The lesson I have to teach is this: don’t allow monopolies, especially incompetent ones. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Support new companies driving faster and with more direction. Have faith that other men and women will do so to. This faith will be confirmed.
I, Connecticut Limo, seemingly simple though I am, offer the mistake of my existence as testimony that a practical faith, as practical as Yale’s excellence, Harvard’s classes on Monday and Princeton’s irrelevance.
Adam Lior Hirst is a senior in Branford College.