Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cabs, Cartels, and Catchy Phrases

The Minnesota Lawyer blog makes reference to a George Will column and suggests that Mr. Will needed to be prompted to use a "catchy phrase" in reference to the artificial limitation on taxicab licenses in Minneapolis. So, is the word "cartel" so obscure that an esteemed conservative columnist would need a lawyer to clue him in to it?

Decide for yourself. Here is the definition of cartel from Black's Law Dictionary:

A combination of producers of any product joined together to control its production, sale, and price, so as to obtain a monopoly and restrict competition in any particular industry or commodity. Such exist primarily in Europe, being restricted in United States by antitrust laws. Also, an association by agreement of companies or sections of companies having common interests, designed to prevent extreme or unfair competition and allocate markets, and to promote the interchange of knowledge resulting from scientific and technical research, exchange of patent rights, and standardization of products.

Two things. One, the taxi situation in Minneapolis is not a monopoly, because more than one company is involved. Two, as the definition above shows, "cartel" is not necessarily a pejorative. It may have a connotation of big money oil on a national or international scale, such as OPEC or the competitors to Ewing Oil in Dallas, but that is a topic for another post.



Blogger Bill Gilles said...

While I believe the dictionary is a fine tool as a reference, the dictionary is one of the most terrible literary tools used by writers, pundits and bloggers. Nothing annoys me more than bloc quotations of the stinking dictionary as an argument. It's the visual equivalent of Sean Hannity's radio show... nyuuuuuuugh.

May 30, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

It's clearly a government-force supported rent-seeking cartel

May 30, 2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger Peter said...


Maybe so. But the word is hardly as exotic is it was made out to be by Minnlawyer.

As I said on the Minnlawyer weblog, if this were about turning a catchy phrases, they would have called it a "cab cartel." Alliteration is always good.

May 30, 2007 1:23 PM  

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