Getting it.

Let me state a hard truth: if this is a far as you are going to read, you aren’t going to get it.  Which is really frustrating, if getting it turns out to be important.  Like vaccinations.  On the other hand, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you get it or not, it’s still going to work. Like vaccinations.  But you do have to go along, and that’s where things can start to get frustrating.  It took some three hundred years for people to start taking the germ theory of disease seriously.  For a few scientists, those must have been some frustrating times.  

Hard truth: if you can’t explain something in three bullet points or less, you are done.  Let me tell you another hard truth: those three bullet points are holding us back.  Big time.  And the reason is this: all three bullet points have to be common knowledge.  If any one of them is an unknown – or even worse: debatable – then it doesn’t matter if you have the cure for cancer, you are done.  Unless the cure is a vaccine, because everyone knows that will work. 

And that’s where the three bullet points go from holding us back to shooting us in the back.  As life gets complicated, it is just as easy to be led down a back alley with three bullet points.  And even when this little soirée is every bit of fun and excitement that you thought it could be, you might get a little more than you bargained for.  I hope you got your vaccinations, they might keep you from getting cancer.

Here are my three bullet points:

  • Connections are valuable.
  • Smartphones aren’t going away.
  • Smartphones make connections.

I tried to pluck out the most fundamental hard truths, the ones that are common knowledge, not debatable.  Even so, that second line is the one that my generation and older is going to try to debate.  But smartphones are a bit like teenage sex: it doesn’t matter how you think the world should be, some things are unstoppable.  Smartphones aren’t going away, and ironically appear to be reducing teenage sex.  Be careful what you wish for. 

Connections, in any form, are valuable.  They are a fundamental human need, right along with water, food, and shelter.  We could slip into a dim alley and discuss at length the different types of connections and the relative value of those connections, but let’s just leave it as a bullet point on which we should all be able to agree: connections are valuable. 

Smartphones make connections.  In fact, that is their power, it is what draws us to them, and it is why they are never going away, and why they are replacing teenage sex.  (The irony is never ending).  Over time, they may change forms, and the adoption of those changes will be personal (wearables like watches and <shudder> implants), but those changes will be driven by the ability to connect.

Right about now you should be asking WTF this has to do with anything. 

Where vaccines have saved us from unmeasurable human suffering, smartphones may save the free world from collapsing.  Go back, read it again, it’s not a misprint: smartphones may save the free world from collapsing.  In what I find to be par for the course of universal irony, our salvation may come from a device brought to life by a man who died of cancer, arguably because he did not understand the disease.

I think it’s time for three more bullet points:

  • In free society, we are going to pay all of the costs of everyone’s healthcare, no matter what.
  • As we develop new treatments for diseases, the cost of healthcare will continue to increase. 
  • When we run out of money, our society is going to collapse.

You can try and debate these things, but the end result is coming whether you get it or not.  It didn’t matter if the victims of the great plague understood the germ theory of disease, they died just the same.

I think this is a problem. 

Wanting to fix a problem and actually fixing a problem are two different things.  The bigger the problem, the more we are willing to keep trying things that clearly aren’t working.  That’s called desperation.  The people of Europe in the mid-1300s were desperate (the germ theory was not a big thing then).  Desperate times call for desperate measures, like blaming Jews.  Because that’s one of the things we like to do when things are going to shit, blame someone else.  And let’s not forget to capitalize on the shitty situation, we are good at that too, a sorta desperate version of the lemonade-out-of-lemons thing, except it’s more of a shit sandwich, and we all get to eat it.  Because it still doesn’t fix the problem.

If you think this is not a problem, well, that’s a problem.

The earlier you begin treating a disease, the better.  (Ask Steve Jobs).  This explains both my frustration and desperation.  If we are going to try something different, now is the time.  If we wait until the fighting starts, it’s too late.  If you time-travelled a team of trained healthcare providers with a world’s supply of antibiotics into Crimea as the first infected fleas jumped from the backs of the rats on which they had been napping, I doubt you would make a dent in the death toll to follow.  You’d probably be swept up in the blame and desperation, like nuts and corn in a gourmet shit sandwich.

Did you know that John Snow was one of the first to describe germ theory?  I guess he did know something…

The only solution to our problem is this: we have to find a way to make everyone healthier

One more clip of bullets:

  • The more resources you have, the healthier you tend to be.
  • Connections are valuable.
  • Connections are the one resource that can be distributed without a cost to society.

Unlike water, food, shelter, or more complex resources like education and transportation, connections can now be created and given away to anyone and everyone, free of charge, without cost to manufacture or deliver, without the side effects of shifting assets from one group to another.  It does not hurt your situation one bit for someone else to have all the connections they need and want.  In fact – because we are going to pay for all of the costs of everyone’s healthcare, no matter what – other people being connected is tremendously valuable to each of us, and that value is amplified across the entire population.  These are unique properties, because every other resource comes with both a cost to society and a finite supply; the more water you get, the more it costs me, and the less there is.  Furthermore, the healthier the network that we are all connected to, the more powerful the connections become for all of us. 

Connections may be the treatment for the disease of our society, and smartphones are a syringe.

In many ways, Facebook and Uber are analogous to blaming the Jews for the plague.  These are systems that masquerade as solutions but exist solely to capitalize on our needs, in this case, our need for connections.  It’s not even ironic that Mark Zuckerburg pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to end childhood disease, it’s offensive.  As if millions of people hadn’t already been devoting their lives to a similar goal, but all along they just lacked his money and resources.  If Facebook reshaped itself into a purpose-built, uncorrupted social network with the goal of allowing us to connect as we see fit, it would go further to improve the health of children (and the rest of us) than every charitable foundation on earth.  Or vaccines, for that matter.  But that would mean letting go of the money, and that’s just not going to happen, even if it all burns down around us.

Uber is a nothing more than a smartphone app.  It is a way to make a connection.  It is not an altruistic entity that intends to improve the health of society by facilitating better transportation.  It is smartphone app that makes a connection, and that connection is sold to us by a for-profit, investor-driven company that wants to squeeze as many dollars out of our pockets as it can so that the wall-street perception of its value continues to climb.

But here’s the catch: they can’t stop us from doing things differently, and we don’t need someone to cleverly manufacture our cure.  We can make it ourselves.

MoveUP is my way of proving this to you, and I am going to deliver this drug, even if I have to hold you down and inject it in your butt.  Thus far, I have made the mistake of trying to convert the people who are least likely to see the light: grownups.  My generation does not understand the power of the smartphone.  They understand the 100 billion dollar valuation of Uber, because that’s the world they grew up in, the one where new products cost money and make money, a world that turns to the tune of big business.  I appealed to industry, but industry exists for the profit, even when the product fights disease.  I appealed to the government, but the government feeds on blame and desperation.  And both industry and the government are run by grownups. 

And grownups don’t get it.  But young people get it.  Even better, they don’t even know how powerful they can be, and once they see what they are capable of when they connect, they will be unstoppable.  I don’t want their money, and I don’t want their vote, I just need them to get it, to connect them.  And then they will get it.  And it won’t matter if you don’t.

Goals for 2019

It’s time to look back at my 2018 goals, see how I did, and set a few for 2019.  Of paramount importance is looking where you want to go, but a glance in the rear-view mirror is a good thing to do, just don’t linger on the past.

  1. Communication system for the medical system. Status: ongoing.  Doctors are a fickle bunch, but the network is growing (still using the brilliant little communication app called Qlqisoft).  Furthermore, we have successfully bridged across different medical systems, and even into the community.  The larger the network becomes, the more powerful it is.  I am predicting even more engagement in 2019.
  2. Re-engineering the way cancer patients move through our system. Status: ongoing.  We successfully created our hub and navigation process, and now we are beginning to exploit the possibilities.  Our goals for 2019 include providing nurse navigation services to our colon cancer or other gastrointestinal cancer patients, a large group that historically has been difficult to corral; a bit like herding cats, actually.  We are also building a community-based survivorship program centered around the newly-created YMCA-LiveSTRONG program, and we have a few wild cards up our sleeve for this one.  Stay tuned.
  3. Establish a sustainable, annual, city-wide elementary school anti-smoking program. Status: one down, improvements on the way.  It was no mean feat to coordinating a small army of enthusiastic Liberty Public Health graduate and undergrad students to engage with 31 classes of 5th graders across the entire school system, but I just kinda kicked the ball into the field and let Shauntee, Anita and Cheryl run with it.  And run they did!  We made quick changes to account for vaping and a new evil: Juul.  This is probably the most egregious scourge to come out of the minds of creative venture capitalists since the payday loan or price gouging on pharmaceuticals, and for 2019 I intend to spread the word to all that will listen, and a few that won’t.  They have targeted our kids directly with the most addictive nicotine delivery system ever created (it’s patented!) and if you don’t know anything about it, you should ask yourself why (because they never intended to sell it to you).  There is a special place in hell…
  4. School system stuff. Status:  I didn’t do shit.  (Can’t do it all).
  5. Online training program for phlebotomy. Status:  hard copies done, online version being submitted as I type this.  This effectively enables high school grads to start a job in phlebotomy three months earlier and $3000 richer (and better trained, IMO).  That’s not a small thing, and I hope it becomes a discussion point for critically evaluating the cost of education, because we need some of that ($250,000 for college?  $400,000 to become a doctor?  WTF?)  It is also allowing college students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare to develop a valuable skill and gain invaluable experience while bolstering our available workforce.  I am going to count this one as a big win.
  6. Create an integrated electronic infrastructure for the city. Status: ongoing.  MoveUP is just the first phase of my nefarious plan to get you all to live together better, and you can’t stop me now!  Muwhuhahaha!
  7. Compete in the entire IMSA Prototype Challenge Series in 2018. Status: Nope.  I did get to race at Daytona, and that was pretty epic.  Unfortunately, I will always remember that race as the weekend before coming home to the literal destruction of my extended family, and I have struggled all year as I watched the inevitable come to fruition.  It almost destroyed me, and that’s not an exaggeration.  The only thing I was able to pull from the smoldering ruins was a guiding theory on human connections.  This new viewpoint helped me to recognize the paramount importance of those very same connections in my own life, such as the one between myself and my wife.  Connections I will never allow to be threatened again.  And I decided to keep the racecar, so it might be that Marty will ride again in 2019, albeit in a much more low-key manner better suited to my cooperative ideology.

Changes for 2019:  I took too much away from my family and myself, and that won’t do.  Denying yourself the things that make life worth living is counter-productive.  Family, fun, fitness, these will get more directed attention, and I encourage you to do the same.  If there is one guiding principle the millennials nailed, it’s that you only live once.  Just don’t use the acronym, it just encourages them, and we don’t need any more acronyms, IMHO.

Look where you want to go!

Figuring it out is all that matters.

We have to stop asking who is to blame, because it just doesn’t matter.

Over the last few days I watched as a young lady went into diabetic ketoacidosis – aka got sick as shit from uncontrolled diabetes – and then spent a few days in the medical ICU recovering.  Yes, I am a doctor, but I am more about cancer diagnostics and lab medicine than actual boots-on-the-ground care like this, so it wasn’t particularly fun to see.

The amazing part was how commonplace this was to everyone else, especially the providers.  Because it is commonplace.  She doesn’t have insurance, and getting glucose monitoring stuff and medicines and keeping it all together as a pretty twenty-something is a bit of a hassle, so when push comes to shove or a co-pay goes up or a meter breaks, one thing commonly leads to another.

And let’s face it, this is not my responsibility.  I have a wife and two daughters of my own, impeding holidays, college tuition to deal with, and car parts to buy.  This girl’s care is not on my balance sheet, and why should it be?

I hate to ball up your accounting report, because it sure as hell is on my balance sheet.  And yours too.  And the details don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if she is lazy and worthless (she is not), uneducated and unmotivated (she is not), or even a drug addict or criminal (again, no and no).  It just doesn’t matter, because this year alone, you and I are looking at about a hundred thousand in medical bills that we are going to pay.

You might pay it buddy, but not me! you growl through gritted teeth, with an eye-roll for effect.

Like it or not, you sure as hell are.

BS: SHE has to pay! Not me!

Really?  Where is it going to come from?  And should we stick it to her?  Think about it for a minute.  Who out there is prepared to absorb 100k in medical bills?  And if we forced that burden on her, how well do you think her future care is going to go?  Because I think she will be right back in the ICU, and again, and again, until her kidneys fail and she is on dialysis and disability and then you and I are going to pay for EVERYTHING.

How about we just take care of her – help her take better care of herself – and get her back to life and work and play where she can be an active part of our community, instead of being a liability?  Even if you have your own mound of problems and you don’t really give a happy crap about others, it’s going to be a helluva lot cheaper.  So let’s try it this other way, and save some money, shall we?  Wouldn’t you rather invest a little time and money and have her making a paycheck and paying taxes and buying stuff instead of pouring Medicaid money into a giant hole?

We are all responsible for each other.  It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, it’s the way it is.  So we have to build systems that enable us to help each other out, that connect us, that make life easier.  This all seems so completely unrelated to some transportation app, but these things have everything to do with one another.  If we don’t figure out how to manage the little bills like test strips and insulin for people with diabetes or transportation for people without cars, we are going to be on the hook for much larger bills like ICU visits or lifetimes without employment.

On Tuesday (provided some snow melts) I will be discussing MoveUP with City Council.  This is more than a transportation app, it is our city coming together to learn how to live cooperatively.  This is not about free stuff for some group of people or continuing to fund a service that isn’t working, it’s about building something that works for all of us.  December 11, 4:00 pm, Council Chambers.  Please come and add to the momentum.

Cultural Shift

Our culture has long been one based on competition, and that’s a hard core value to shake.  So every time I see evidence that someone else has beaten us to an idea or solution, I have to suppress the gut reaction that we are too late. Because in a competitive world, that’s a fail.  But in a cooperative world where the goal is finding solutions, other people’s solutions become our collaborative success.

We are trying to cure poverty, and it doesn’t matter who figures it out.  Just do it already.

It’s all about connections.  Joan Foster sent me a link to an article about some progressive ideas in DC, and that led me to start following the work of their Director of For-Hire Vehicles, Ernest Chrappah.  And he just posted their proposed revisions to code governing For-Hire vehicles.

Peruse those a bit, and I think you will come to the same conclusions I have:

  1. Managing the interaction of 6 million people is trickier than 100,000.
  2. We are going in the same direction.

Remember how difficult change is?  Well one of the problems we are facing as a society is that we continue to look to the big players for solutions, but it’s much harder to change the direction of a massive ship than it is a kayak.  The scope of the regulations proposed in DC is almost impossible to take in, with many more classes of vehicles and markets and populations and variables that will interact such that a change here may have unexpected consequences over there.

We make a better test site.

We are smaller, with less variables to deal with, faster moving, and better able to react to those inevitable unintentional consequences (yes, it’s OK to try something and see if it works, and if it doesn’t, try something different).

These changes are inevitable.

We are going in the same direction (in this case, a continued evolution of what defines a for-hire vehicle and how we manage cooperative transportation solutions in our society). Once this stuff starts, you won’t be able to hold it back.  When someone makes a change that works, everyone is going to go there.  When someone builds a system that works, everyone is going to want it.  Once we move to a place where we work cooperatively and we see how much better life can be, we will all go there, and we will never go back. And when we go cooperative, the faster anyone gets to the finish line, the faster we all get there.

This all just makes me excited to dive into some progressive proposed regulatory changes concerning for-hire vehicles!  And that is certainly a change.

Confidence in Chemistry

In my job, overconfidence doesn’t work out (just another of the many reasons I am not so good at racing).  So this may be the first time I have had this experience, one where I look around and just know what is going to happen.  It’s very similar to chemistry: molecules behave with absolute predictability.  And people are exactly the same.

So I end up trying to explain it – often – and lately I have spent more time pondering a new question: why do I seem to be the only one that gets it?  That part does make me uncomfortable, because there are a lot of really smart people out there, many of whom have had to listen to me prattle on, so this is like saying I am smarter than them.  And that shoots past overconfidence into arrogance.

There are two possibilities: I am wrong, and everyone else knows it; or it’s just really hard to get your hear around it, even for smart people.

Or, maybe we have all been trained to believe it’s just not possible.  That’s actually what I think is going on.

If I tell you I am going to give you something you want and need for no cost with strings attached, you will not believe me.  Somewhere, there is a catch.  People have been inventing clever ways to use that as bait for tens of thousands of years.  Whether these is advertising involved, it’s a trial period, you are being used as a guinea pig, or you will soon be addicted, there is always a catch.  We have all been jaded enough that we will never be fooled.  People just don’t do things if there is not something in it for them.  It may be a paycheck, a tax write-off, publicity, or just a chance to feel good, but true altruism is rare, and it is always on a limited scale, with some underlying benefit.

That part of human nature hasn’t changed, and I am not ignoring it.  On the contrary, unwillingness to accept the realities of how people are going to behave has been the failing of many benevolent causes.  Resources always have limits, and someone has to pay the cost.

But, two things have changed: one is embedded in the word need.  That’s absolutely critical: I am going to give you something you want and need, at no cost, and with no strings attached.  The need part is how I am going to benefit.  Because you are absolutely right: I am not doing this for nothing, I am doing this for tremendous personal benefit.  Because if this city expands its economy and reduces its poverty rate, I am going to benefit proportionally.  Exponentially, actually, because everything will get better as things get better.  And I have kids that will benefit, too.  So don’t be fooled into thinking I don’t see this all as an investment I will capitalize on, because I will.  Right now I am paying – we are all paying – for all of the bad things that happen to people who don’t get what they need.  I would like to stop doing that.  So instead, I am going to show you how we can give people what they want and need, at no cost, and with no strings attached.

And the second thing that has changed is the tools we have at our disposal.  It turns out that giving people what they want and need at no cost and with no strings attached is actually quite easy.

But wait!  You can’t just give people stuff, that never solves problems.  It just makes them dependent on the source, and someone has to pay!  This is all just another scam!  I knew it!

Ah, but I am not talking about widgets or money or even shelter or food or water.  With all of these things, that is very true.  But I am talking about connections.  Connections are like a magic commodity: there is no limit, they are extremely fulfilling and powerful, they are a critical functional, emotional, and physiologic need.  And they are free.  They don’t have to be manufactured, and both sides of the equation benefit.  The same rules don’t apply here, and that is why it’s so hard to accept.  This entire project goes against everything we have all learned and experienced throughout our entire collective lives.  But it is truly different.

If you have ever seen some crazy chemistry experiment where you mix things together just so (or drop a couple of mentos into a coke bottle) and something wild happens, then you know it’s not magic.  The rules of the universe are being followed with exacting precision, you just weren’t aware of some of those rules, so you didn’t predict the result.  The rules are never bent or broken.

Everyone wants to be connected.  Everyone needs connections.  We can now provide safe, effective, connections without cost, and without strings attached.  People want them, so they will take them.  People need them, so we need to provide them.  This doesn’t break any rules or make any false assumptions or expect things to happen in ways that just won’t happen.  On the contrary: if I truly give people something they want and need for no cost and with no strings attached, the one thing I can be absolutely sure of: they are going to take it.  And no amount of money or effort spent by someone else to try to bait them into something that looks similar but has hidden costs or strings will prevent that.

Overconfidence means you believe something will happen when there is still a good chance it will not.  Here, it’s no longer a matter of can it be done, it is that it can’t be stopped.

Cooperatism and our unified potential

It’s been a while since I blogged.  That’s because there has been progress.  Writing is a way to vent frustrations, but it is also a way to organize thoughts.  Putting ideas together in a way that other people might read them and understand what you are on about is a critical part of the process, certainly for me.  In that way, blogging is bit like planning the next move, but if things are actually moving, there is little need.

Yesterday, a friend called me a socialist. 

I am not a socialist… am I?  I believe poverty is the disease of our society, and I want to fix it.  Does that make me a socialist?  Dammit, now I have to think.  And thinking means writing, so here we are.

Instead of leading you down the winding road of mental wrangling that occurred while my new sleep monitor app was recording very little of the so-called good stuff, I am going to drop you off at the destination: I am not a socialist.  Nor am I a capitalist (is that the opposite of socialism?), nor a fascist nor communist.  I am a cooperatist.  It even says so on the front page of this blog site, so it must be true.

Except I wasn’t really a cooperatist two years ago.  The motive for all of this was (and still is) frustration at all of our fighting, a desire to find a way for us to get along so we might actually fix some of our problems, instead of just shouting about it.  Now I will say I truly am a cooperatist, and a radical one at that. Now I can define what that means, and more importantly: show you how we could actually make this work.  In fact, that is what I have been doing all along, it was just kinda by accident.

If you do a search and read about coooperatism, you will see various definitions and examples, like this one.

Cooperatism is this farcical idea where everyone works together for mutual benefit.  Though there are successful examples in the real world, usually harsh reality wrecks the party: some people suck.  The Utopian co-op requires that there are no sucky people, and that’s the societal equivalent of a unicorn, so we should all just forget about it, eh?

To keep society structured – to keep the uncooperative people in line – we need rules.  That’s where all of the -isms come in, like socialism.  The -ism part refers to the philosophy and structure of the system of rules that controls the chaos.  But if you look a little closer you will see something interesting: all societies have cooperatism at their core.  That core is made up of all the people who don’t suck, who just want to get along and pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  Even the most oppressive totalitarian dictatorship has a central populace that struggles to keep it together as best they can.  And in order to maintain control of the general population, the most important item on the agenda is to keep them from being able to cooperate.

Because the vast majority of us find ourselves in the we-just-want-to-get-along group, we define our world by the part that controls us: the system of rules.  Those systems all have a few things in common: someone makes the rules, and someone enforces those rules.  In the past, it was common to have one person do it all: a king or dictator.  Most of the time, that doesn’t go over too well, but the “benevolent dictator” still reigns in some people’s minds as the best system, because it’s not so much who makes the rules, it’s what the rules actually are.  A good dictator can make really good rules. It’s just so hard to get rid of someone if they turn out to be not-so-benevolent.

We decided to go with democracy because it engages the people in the decisions.  It’s like the cooperative version of rule-making, which is why it remains the most popular of our imperfect choices.

But at the end of the day, the whole gamut are just different ways to make rules, and these rules then govern what we do.  Some of us equate democracy with freedom, but freedom is really less rules, isn’t it?  We are now sitting in the corner with the Libertarians, who would apply the “less is more” philosophy to those pesky rules.  Their ideology is enticing, but in reality it is just as much a unicorn as pure cooperatism, as it again ignores the people that suck and the havoc they create.

So we have a cooperative majority, and rules to keep the uncooperative in check.

The most important rules – things like no cheating, no stealing, no murder—they are not even in the debate, because these are not rules that impact the lives of the people that don’t suck.  The fact that it’s illegal is not what prevents me from stealing a car or shooting someone that annoys me.  (OK there may have been times—recent times—that the realization of my inability to take care of my family from prison did have some impact on my decision-making process).

It’s the rules about what we get to keep for ourselves, what we have to give away, and what we get back that create the problems.  When you look at it that way, capitalism, socialism, and communism are on a spectrum.  With socialism, a portion of what you make has to be put in a basket in the middle of the room, and then we hand out the contents of the basket to people that need that stuff.  Capitalism is like survival of the fittest: I put the bare minimum in the basket, and if you need something, that’s not my problem.  With communism, everyone puts everything in the basket, and then everyone gets an equal share.

The problem with capitalism now is that survival of the fittest doesn’t work anymore.  Since we are completely responsible for everyone in our society, we all pay – sometimes dearly—when things go wrong, not matter who is at fault. This is not Sparta, and the belief that it’s not my problem should be put in a pen with the other unicorns.

We don’t need to even talk about communism.

Socialism looks like cooperatism, but it’s not.  Not even close.  In fact, socialism is the system that has the most rules that actually affect me and all the other cooperative folks.  I don’t have any choice about what goes into the basket; the rule makers decide that for me, and they decide  how those contents are distributed.   In a socialist world, I don’t help my neighbor, the system does (theoretically).  And even if I think what the system does is not particularly helpful, well, that’s just too bad.

With cooperatism, I am the one that helps my neighbor. 

And that defines the frustration: like all non-sucky people, I want to help my neighbors, but socialism doesn’t let me do that.  Socialists would say that it’s just my point of view: my stuff is not being taken, I am giving it freely for the common good.  Maybe.  But what if I am not particularly fond of the rules for how that stuff is used?  What if it is being wasted, and I can clearly show that?  What if I can prove I could do better taking care of my neighbor directly than sending my stuff off, having it processed through multiple sub-systems (with parts of it being wasted at every step), and having some reality-challenged bureaucrat pretend that they can solve my neighbor’s problems from afar?  If helping my neighbor is something I actually want to do, then the system is just getting in the way, and not fixing anything.  That’s frustrating.

Every night, when I lie down in my king-sized bed with my wife and marauding cat in the soft sheets that may have a leaf or two brought in by our big, fuzzy dog, there is a child somewhere nearby, alone on the floor without so much as a blanket for comfort.  But since I know there is nothing I can do, and it’s not like I can see them, I push such thoughts from my mind and drift off, hoping I will wake with favorable data on my sleep tracker app.

What if I put a camera in that lonely child’s room, and then pushed live video to a big screen TV in your bedroom?  How many of us would just go to sleep?  I daresay the vast majority would be unable to ignore the scenario.  Instead, there would in short order be a thousand people offering blankets and comfort.  And that lonely child would know there are actually a thousand people that do—genuinely—care.

That is the power of connections.

I am not a socialist because socialism doesn’t provide connections.  The system is no more aware of that child than the rest of us.  Socialism recognizes the responsibility for our community’s health, but it tries to force us to help.  None of us likes to be forced into doing anything, and the reality is that most of us don’t need to be forced: we want to help, we just don’t know how.

The lack of connections is the problem, and a system for making connections is the answer.    

We must have a system of rules to contain those who would take advantage of others.  Throughout history, society has always provided an advantage to people who would bend or break the rules.  The less connected the cooperative majority, the more power shifts to those who make the rules, and the corrupt who ignore them.  Increasing connections will tip the balance of power.  It will not make the rules unnecessary, but it will limit their impact on our lives.  Said more simply: if we can do it ourselves, we won’t need the system to do it for us.  And once we see that in action, we will want more of it.

Cooperatism is about empowering the upstanding majority of our society to work together with maximum efficiency, minimizing the need for the system of rules.  To be cooperative, we have to be connected; the more connected, the more powerful our collective.  We now have ways to connect like never before, and if we leverage those abilities, we can realize our unified potential.

Going all in

What if you had an idea that might lead to world peace? How far would you go? How much would it be worth? With any endeavor, you weigh the risks and benefits, factoring in the chance of success and the cost of failure. And world peace is right up there with exceeding the speed of light. It would be foolish to go all in, because people suck.

A few years back, I changed. I started looking at things differently, and doing things differently. Mostly, it was fear and frustration with a system I have felt driven to try to fix, an arguably impossible task. The odds of success what they are, I have certainly put in more than was wise. I have become a moody, obsessive bore, who alternates between brooding and babbling, but mostly babbling.

And now I think I see the error of my ways. But unfortunately, it’s not that I need to stop, it’s that I need to change directions. What if the solution has never been about the system that tries to contain our flaws, but is more about empowering our greatest strength?

Us.

But, wait! People suck.

Or do they? For sure, some people suck, but not everyone. And throughout history, every human society has been such that the sucky people have had the advantage. Brutality, ruthlessness, conniving, treachery, betrayal; these are effective tools that can be used by a small number of people who suck to ruin the lives of a whole lot people who don’t.  And then there are people who just suck up resources from non-suckies. For sure, there is a lot of suckitude.

But what would happen if we connected all of those seemingly hapless non-sucky individuals into a collective network of regular people? Would it become an overpowering force of awesome? I will tell you one thing that is fact: no one knows, because it’s never been tried.

One reason: up until the last 10 years, it wasn’t possible. But now it is. In fact, we are already connected better than we have ever been before, it’s just that those connections are somewhat corrupted, primarily in an attempt to monetize the demand. What’s amazing is that those connections are now so easy to create, it is possible to build an uncorrupted network where people are free to make connections as they want, no strings attached.

The catch: you can’t make money on it. Which is exactly why no one has done it.  You would have to do it purely to see what would happen. A test.

How do you test something like this? I suggest we treat the idea just like we might treat a new drug: find a test subject, mix up the elixir, and have them drink it down.  And then see what happens.

There are a couple of catches: For one, you have to be allowed to test it. With what we are talking about, there are societies where the controlling government would never allow an uncorrupted network to connect all of the regular people together. That’s no way to maintain control. In fact, one of the most important things a government of this type wants to do is control those connections. Which means you need a free country. Wait! We have that here!

Second, it’s important that your lab rat has the disease that you are trying to treat. How else would you tell if it works? Sadly, that’s not a problem.

Third, you have to have a test subject that is capable of swallowing the pill. If there are forces within the society that would prevent implementation – laws, culture, lack of resources – you will not be able to put it together. This is precisely why I am so jacked up about our city changing the taxicab regulations: we may be the only ones on earth capable of drinking the entire vial.

And lastly, you need a willing participant, and I think our little city is ready to try.

What would happen? No one knows. But I think it’s fair to say it will only be good. What we don’t know is just how good.

And might we measure success? That’s easy: we look to see if we can swing the needle the other way. Despite our best efforts, our poverty rate is steadily climbing. If we can turn that around, simply by empowering regular people to be the driving force of our community, the impact could be global. It wouldn’t happen overnight, but ultimately, with continued improvements to our new therapy, other communities would progressively adopted this proven treatment.

To me, that looks about as much like world peace as I can imagine, and that is worth a great deal. Will it work? I don’t know, but I simply cannot keep myself from going all in.

Final proposal for Lynchburg Taxicab regulation revisions (Chapter 37, Lynchburg City Code)

Below is the submission in its entirety.  The wording is chosen to be as accommodating as possible: for example, don’t set things like dollar amounts for fees, or you have to go back and re-write the code to adjust for inflation or market changes.   The most important points are summarized here:

  • Let anyone be a driver who qualifies and has a car that is safe.  Set standards for both the driver and the cars.
  • Add language such that drivers cannot discriminate against anyone based on race, religion, culture, gender, or other lifestyle preference.
  • Allow for the continued use of taximeters with the current regulations including standardized fares, but allow for alternate methods of setting a fare, provided an estimate of that fare is given to the rider before they agree to the ride (which can now be done with a modern app but couldn’t when these laws were written).  

I am particularly proud of this last one, as if preserves our current taxi system exactly as it is, but allows it to attract newer customers and adopt more modern systems as desired.

 

Proposed Revisions to Lynchburg City Code Chapter 37. Taxicabs.

 

 Sec. 37-17. Authority of city manager generally.

 The inspection of taxicabs, the sealing of taximeters and the examination of applicants for certificates shall be under the control and jurisdiction of the city manager. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-2)

Proposal:

 “The city manager shall have control and jurisdiction to manage directly or delegate authority to another city official to oversee the regulations of taxicab services including the qualification and certification of drivers, the inspection of vehicles, the use and verification of taximeters or other fare-calculating system as appropriate.”

 

Sec. 37-18. Appointment of taxicab inspector.

 The city manager may designate a person from the personnel of the department of police to act as taxicab inspector as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this article. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-3)

Proposal:  Remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-20. Compliance with article prerequisite to advertisement as taxicab operator.

 No person shall use the term taxi or taxicab in advertising, nor shall any person hold himself out to the public as a taxi or taxicab owner, or represent himself to be such by means of advertisement, sign, trade name, or otherwise, unless such person shall have previously thereto complied with the regulations and requirements of this article. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-28)

Proposal:  Remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-25. Restriction on number of passengers.

No driver shall permit more than five (5) persons, other than the driver, to be carried in a taxicab. A child in arms shall not be counted as an additional person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-12)

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

Proposal:

 “No driver shall permit more total passengers including the driver than the vehicle was designed to accommodate.  All passengers and the driver must be appropriately restrained at all times in a proper seat with all unmodified DOT approved safety devices including seatbelts that were originally installed when the vehicle was produced.  All DOT approved safety options including seat belts and airbags as provided upon original manufacture of the vehicle must be in full working order for all passengers and driver.  A vehicle used as a taxicab shall adhere to all applicable state and federal regulations.

 Children must be transported in accordance with all federal and state regulations including the use of infant or child booster seats as appropriate, and these seats must be secured in a manner compliant with all vehicle and restraint manufacturer recommendations in the appropriate location within the vehicle to assure maximum safety of all passengers.  Drivers may at any time be asked by police or city officials to demonstrate knowledge of the use and installation of any supplemental safety equipment for the transportation of children, regardless of the presence of a parent or guardian.”  

 

Sec. 37-28. Type of vehicle required.

 Taxicabs operated within the city shall be of a closed or sedan type with at least four (4) doors and of not less than five (5) passenger capacity. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-16)

Proposal:

“Vehicles operated within the city as taxicabs shall be of safe working order with current Virginia safety inspection, even if registered in another state and not requiring a Virginia safety inspection for private use.  The number of passengers shall not exceed fifteen (15).  A method of communicating the characteristics of the vehicle to potential passengers prior to scheduling transportation shall be established using either telephone or a form of electronic messaging to include: the total number of possible passengers, the configuration of the car, the ability or inability to safely restrain children, and/or the ability or inability to carry additional baggage.”

 

Sec. 37-31. Drivers’ manifests.

  • Every driver shall maintain a daily manifest upon which is recorded all trips made each day, showing the time and place of origin and destination of each trip and amount of fare. All such completed manifests shall be returned to the owner by the driver at the conclusion of his hours of duty. The forms for each manifest shall be furnished to the driver by the owner and shall be of a character approved by the city manager.

 (b) Every holder of a certificate shall retain and preserve all drivers’ manifests in a safe place for at least one year and such manifests shall be subject to inspection by the city manager and by personnel of the division of police. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-19)

Proposal:

“Every driver shall maintain a record of all trips to include time, place of pickup, destination, and fare charged, and the manner of transaction (cash, bank card, electronic transfer, etc.).  This information shall be retained for at least one year, and shall at any time be inspected by the city manager and/or personnel of the division of police.”

 

 

Sec. 37-44. Refusal to accept calls or passengers; failure or refusal to give overall service.

 The holder of a certificate who shall refuse to accept a call anywhere within the city or refuse to accept a passenger for delivery to any place within the city or within one mile of the city when such holder has available a taxicab or who shall fail or refuse to give overall service shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and the certificate granted to such holder shall be suspended or revoked at the discretion of the city manager subject to the provisions of sections 37-74 through 37-77, unless driver can articulate a reasonable concern for his/her personal safety or unless repeated incidences of a taxi having been previously called to that address which calls turned out to be false calls for a fare.  (Tax Code 1959, § 31-31; Ord. No. O-05-103, 8-9-05)

Proposal:

“Any taxicab driver who fails to provide service based on a passenger’s race, religion, culture, gender, or other lifestyle preference without other justification shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and the certificate granted to such holder shall be suspended or revoked at the discretion of the city manager subject to the provisions of sections 37-74 through 37-77, unless driver can articulate a reasonable concern for his/her personal safety or unless repeated incidences of a taxi having been previously called by such passenger which turned out to be false calls for a fare.”  

 

 Sec. 37-54. Required.

No person shall operate or cause to be operated any taxicab upon the streets of the city without first having obtained a certificate from the city council. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-36)

Proposal:

“No person shall operate or cause to be operated any taxicab upon the streets of the city without first having obtained a certificate from the city as overseen by the city manager.”

 

Sec. 37-55. Application generally.

An application for a certificate shall be filed in duplicate with the city manager and shall be verified under oath and shall furnish the following information.

 (a) The name, and address of the applicant and shall state that the applicant is at least twenty-one (21) y ears of age.

 (b) The trade name under which the applicant does or proposes to do business.

 (c) If the applicant is a corporation, the officers, directors and principal stockholders of the corporation.

 (d) The financial status of the applicant, including the amounts of all unpaid judgments against the applicant and the nature of the transaction or acts giving rise to such judgments.

 (e) The experience of the applicant in the transportation of passengers.

 (f) Any facts which the applicant believes tend to prove that public convenience and necessity require the granting of a certificate.

 (g) The number of vehicles desired to be operated by the applicant, the location of proposed depots and terminals, and the parking or garage facilities thereat.

 (h) The color scheme or insignia to be used to designate the vehicle or vehicles of the applicant.

 (i) Such further information required by the city manager and which may be relevant and pertinent to the matter of the issuance of a certificate.

 (j) In the event two (2) or more persons, not operating as a corporation or partnership and who own or propose to own individually one or more taxicabs, associate together for the purpose of operating taxicabs under one trade name, each such person shall file an application for a certificate with the city manager and shall, in addition to the information required above, give the names and addresses of the other person or persons who are associating together to operate under such trade name, and the number of cabs to be operated by each such person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-37; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96)

Proposed:

An application for a certificate shall be filed with the city and shall furnish the following information.

(a) The name, birthdate, age, and address of the applicant. 

(b) The trade name under which the applicant does or proposes to do business. 

(c) If the applicant is a corporation, the officers, directors and principal stockholders of the corporation.

(d) The financial status of the applicant, including the amounts of all unpaid judgments against the applicant and the nature of the transaction or acts giving rise to such judgments.

(e) The experience of the applicant in the transportation of passengers.

(f) Any facts which the applicant believes tend to prove that public convenience and necessity require the granting of a certificate.

(g) The number of vehicles desired to be operated by the applicant, the location of proposed depots and terminals, and the parking or garage facilities thereat, if applicable.

(h) The color scheme or insignia to be used to designate the vehicle or vehicles of the applicant.

(i) Such further information required by the city manager and which may be relevant and pertinent to the matter of the issuance of a certificate.

(j) In the event two (2) or more persons, not operating as a corporation or partnership and who own or propose to own individually one or more taxicabs, associate together for the purpose of operating taxicabs under one trade name, each such person shall file an application for a certificate with the city manager and shall, in addition to the information required above, give the names and addresses of the other person or persons who are associating together to operate under such trade name, and the number of cabs to be operated by each such person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-37; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96) 

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Also proposed: update application including online version.

 

Sec. 37-56. Public hearings on applications.

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-58. City manager’s recommendations to council as to issuance or denial.

… (Tax Code 1959, § 31-40)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary):

 

Sec. 37-59. Factors considered in making findings.

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-60. Applicants to whom city manager may not recommend issuance.

 The city manager shall not recommend the issuance of a certificate to any applicant for a certificate under the age of twenty-one (21) years, or who is not of good moral character or personally fit to conduct a taxicab business, or who shall have been convicted within five (5) years prior to the date of the hearing of violating any provision of Code of Virginia, Title 4, relating to transportation of liquors or relating to the sale, transportation, possession or distribution of any other controlled substance, or who shall have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor or felony within a period of five (5) years prior to the date of the hearing provided for in section 37-56. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-42; Ord. No. O-96-136 5-14-96)

Proposal: Discuss Sec. 37-60:

  • Current standard: twenty-one (21) years old. This is not a state requirement for taxicabs (it is for TNCs).  Are 18 year-olds with clean record suitable drivers?  Additional training or demonstration of more substantial experience without incident?  If we change the code to say 18, we do have more flexibility.

NOTE: In regards to the app, the Taxicab driver requirements are minimums.  For example, permission to use the app could require a more in-depth background check (and probably will), but it doesn’t work the other way.    

 

Sec. 37-61. To be granted only to owner.

No certificate shall be granted to any person unless he is the owner of the taxicab or taxicabs proposed to be operated pursuant to the certificate for which application is made. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-43)

Proposal: remove (driver should not be required to own vehicle):

 

Sec. 37-64. Term; expiration for thirty-day failure to operate business.

Proposal: remove (beyond maintenance of driver qualification, vehicle certification and proper insurance coverage, no additional restrictions should be leveraged)

 

Sec. 37-66. License for operation of business—Certificate prerequisite to issuance.

 No license to operate a taxicab business within the city shall be issued to any person unless such person shall first have obtained a certificate from the city council. No additional certificate shall be required for the purpose of obtaining licenses so long as the original certificate remains in effect. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-4)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

 Sec. 37-67. Same—Procedure as to issuance.

 Upon presentation of a certificate within thirty (30) days of its date to the commissioner of the revenue and upon satisfactory evidence that the holder of such certificate has complied with the provisions of sections 37-68 and 37-69 and upon payment of the license fee required under the applicable section of the tax code of the city, the commissioner of the revenue shall issue to the holder of such certificate a license to operate a taxicab business within the city. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-5)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-68. Insurance or bond—Required.

 No certificate shall be issued until the applicant therefor shall submit satisfactory evidence to the city manager that he has filed with the state corporation commission such insurance policy, letter of credit or bond covering such liability or property damage as may be required by state law. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-6; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96)

Proposal:

“No one shall operate any taxicab or other vehicle for the transportation of passengers whether for hire or as a volunteer without obtaining minimal necessary insurance coverage for said operation.”

 

Sec. 37-71. Procedure when additional taxicabs required.

…. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-48)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-76. Same—Term of suspension.

Any certificate suspended shall not be suspended for less than ten (10) days nor more than thirty (30) days. (Code 1959, § 31-53)

 Proposal: remove (leave to city manager / city council).

 

Sec. 37-77. Same—Reissue after revocation.

 Any certificate revoked shall not be reissued to the same person under any circumstances for a term of at least one (1) year after the effective date of such revocation. (Code 1959, § 31-54)

Proposal:  remove (leave to city manager / city council).

 

Sec. 37-86. Fee.

 A fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) shall be paid to the city for processing and investigating the applicant, which fee shall be nonrefundable. (Code 1959, § 31-55; Ord. No. O-90-093, 3-27-90, eff. 7-1-90; Ord. No. O-95-206, 7-11-95, eff. 9-1-95)

Proposed:

“A fee may be required by the city for processing and investigating the applicant, and such fee shall be nonrefundable.”

 

Sec. 37-87. Term; renewal.

 Original registration of a driver shall expire one year from date of issue, unless sooner revoked. All such registrations shall be renewed annually on or before the driver’s date of birth each year. Such renewal registration shall continue for one year following, unless sooner revoked. (Code 1959, § 31-55; Ord. No. O-91-050, 3-26-91)

Proposal:

“Periodic review of a driver’s qualifications, license, and records shall be performed at an interval deemed appropriate by the city manager, and such review may be undertaken at any time if just cause for such investigation is presented such as an accident report or criminal conviction of a currently registered driver, whether related to such employment or not.”

 

Sec. 37-92. Registration cards.

 Every taxicab driver registered by the chief of police under the provisions of this division shall be furnished with a card signed by the chief of police certifying to his registration, which card shall contain a photograph of the taxicab driver made by the police division. Such card shall be conspicuously displayed in a manner directed by the chief of police in the taxicab at all times that the same is in charge of such driver. No driver shall drive a taxicab upon the streets of the city until he shall have secured a registration card from the chief of police. (Code 1959, § 31-60)

Proposal:

“Every taxicab driver registered by the chief of police under the provisions of this division shall be furnished with a card signed by the chief of police certifying to his registration, which card shall contain a photograph of the taxicab driver made by the police division. Such card shall be conspicuously displayed in a manner directed by the chief of police in the taxicab at all times that the same is in charge of such driver. No driver shall drive a taxicab upon the streets of the city until he shall have secured a registration card from the chief of police. This card shall be either on display or readily available for inspection by passengers or police at all times while operating a vehicle as a taxicab.”

 

Sec. 37-95. Same—Term.

 In the event of revocation or suspension of registration of a driver, other than mandatory revocation, such suspension or revocation shall be for a period fixed by the chief of police or the judge of the municipal court upon appeal, but not exceeding one (1) year. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-64)

Proposal:

In the event of revocation or suspension of registration of a driver, other than mandatory revocation, such suspension or revocation shall be for a period fixed by the chief of police or the judge of the municipal court upon appeal, but not exceeding one (1) year.

 

Sec. 37-105. Required.

 All taxicabs operating under this article shall be equipped with taximeters fastened to the taxicab in front of the passengers, visible to them at all times of the day and night; and, after sundown, the face of the taximeter shall be illuminated. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-68)

Proposed:

Sec. 37-105. Method of determining fare: use of Taximeters or alternate method.

Taxicabs must operate using one of the following methods:

(a) Drivers may utilize a Taximeter for determining the applied fare for the ride. If operating under this method, vehicles shall be equipped with taximeters fastened to the taxicab in front of the passengers, visible to them at all times of the day and night; and, after sundown, the face of the taximeter shall be illuminated.  The device shall be verified and maintained according to Sections 37-107 and 37-108.  The applied fare shall be determined using rates as defined in Section 37-109 Rates.

(b) Drivers may utilize an alternate method for setting fares including some combination of a minimum fare, base fare, rate per mile, and/or rare per minute as calculated or predicted using a navigational computer, BUT an estimate of this fare must be displayed to the passenger PRIOR to engaging with the driver for hire. If the actual fare exceeds the previously agreed upon estimated fare by more than 20% due to traffic or some other computational error and the driver does not correct the fare at the time of payment, the passenger will have thirty (30) days to request in writing a refund for this additional amount, to be paid by the driver within thirty (30) days from receipt of this request.

 

Proposal:

Sec. 37-106. Signal device, if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

Sec. 37-107. Inspection generally; procedure in case of inaccuracy if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

Sec. 37-108. Rules and regulations as to inspection and sealing if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

Sec. 37-109. Rates if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

 

More proposed revisions to local taxicab regulations

Sleepy?  Antidote to insomnia provided at no charge.  But sometimes, the devil is in the details.  I am pretty sure many legislators slept through these discussions when Uber became a problem they simply didn’t understand.  Or maybe there was a fat campaign check paper-clipped to legislative suggestions.  Hey, relax! That’s totally legal.  Regardless, I am thinking we should take advantage of our opportunity to be the tail that wags the dog and do this right.

I removed some stuff that I thought was unnecessary (you are probably thinking that would be all of it…) but every word of the code can be found here.

Sec. 37-31. Drivers’ manifests.

 (a) Every driver shall maintain a daily manifest upon which is recorded all trips made each day, showing the time and place of origin and destination of each trip and amount of fare. All such completed manifests shall be returned to the owner by the driver at the conclusion of his hours of duty. The forms for each manifest shall be furnished to the driver by the owner and shall be of a character approved by the city manager.

 (b) Every holder of a certificate shall retain and preserve all drivers’ manifests in a safe place for at least one year and such manifests shall be subject to inspection by the city manager and by personnel of the division of police. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-19)

 Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

Proposed revision:

Every driver shall maintain a record of all trips to include time, place of pickup, destination, and fare charged, and the manner of transaction (cash, bank card, electronic transfer).  This information shall be retained for at least one year, and shall at any time be inspected by the city manager and/or personnel of the division of police.

 

Proposal to strike (f), unnecessary.  Also proposed: create an application including online version.

Sec. 37-55. Application generally.

 An application for a certificate shall be filed in duplicate with the city manager and shall be verified under oath and shall furnish the following information.

(a) The name, and address of the applicant and shall state that the applicant is at least twenty-one (21) y ears of age.

 (b) The trade name under which the applicant does or proposes to do business. 

(c) If the applicant is a corporation, the officers, directors and principal stockholders of the corporation.

(d) The financial status of the applicant, including the amounts of all unpaid judgments against the applicant and the nature of the transaction or acts giving rise to such judgments.

(e) The experience of the applicant in the transportation of passengers.

(f) Any facts which the applicant believes tend to prove that public convenience and necessity require the granting of a certificate.

(g) The number of vehicles desired to be operated by the applicant, the location of proposed depots and terminals, and the parking or garage facilities thereat.

(h) The color scheme or insignia to be used to designate the vehicle or vehicles of the applicant.

(i) Such further information required by the city manager and which may be relevant and pertinent to the matter of the issuance of a certificate.

(j) In the event two (2) or more persons, not operating as a corporation or partnership and who own or propose to own individually one or more taxicabs, associate together for the purpose of operating taxicabs under one trade name, each such person shall file an application for a certificate with the city manager and shall, in addition to the information required above, give the names and addresses of the other person or persons who are associating together to operate under such trade name, and the number of cabs to be operated by each such person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-37; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96) 

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Proposal: strike section 56 (unnecessary): 

 Sec. 37-56. Public hearings on applications.

 Within sixty (60) days after receipt of an application for a certificate, the city manager shall conduct a public hearing thereon, after giving at least fifteen (15) days’ notice thereof, in writing, to the applicant and to holders of outstanding certificates. Such written notice shall be mailed to the applicant and to holders of outstanding certificates at the addresses as shown on the application and outstanding certificates. In addition to such written notice, due notice of such hearing shall be given to the general public by publishing, once each week for two (2) successive weeks immediately preceding the week in which the hearing will be held, in a daily newspaper published in the city, a notice of the time and place of such hearing. All applications filed within the sixty (60) day period and prior to the issuance of the notice fixing the date of such hearing shall be considered at the same time, together with the recommendations of the city manager relative thereto. Any interested person may appear in support of or in opposition to the application for a certificate. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-38)

 Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Proposal: strike section 58 (unnecessary):

Sec. 37-58. City manager’s recommendations to council as to issuance or denial. 

… (Tax Code 1959, § 31-40)

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Proposal: strike section 59 (unnecessary):

Sec. 37-59. Factors considered in making findings.

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Proposal: Strike section 61 (driver should not be required to own vehicle):

Comments: vehicle use by the owner during the duration of serviceability is a continually discussed issue.  Most automobiles operate less than 5% of the time they are in service, dramatically increasing the number of required vehicles to serve the community’s transportation needs, and dramatically increasing the cost of ownership.  Reducing the number of needed vehicles, increasing the amount of work done by each vehicle during it’s serviceable lifespan, and decreasing the cost of both vehicle ownership and personal transportation are all benefits of various forms of shared vehicular ownership and use.  Striking section 61 would open the market to new, mutually beneficial business models.   

Sec. 37-61. To be granted only to owner.

No certificate shall be granted to any person unless he is the owner of the taxicab or taxicabs proposed to be operated pursuant to the certificate for which application is made. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-43)

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Proposal: Strike section 64 (beyond maintenance of driver qualification, vehicle certification and proper insurance coverage, no additional restrictions should be leveraged):

Sec. 37-64. Term; expiration for thirty-day failure to operate business.

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

 

Taxicab Driver Requirements, Proposal:

As in Sec. 37-60:

  • Current standard: twenty-one (21) years old. This is not a state requirement for taxicabs (it is for TNCs).  Are 18 year-olds with clean record suitable drivers?  Additional training or demonstration of more substantial experience without incident?
  • No Title 4 (alcohol and drugs) convictions in the last five (5) years.
  • No “serious” (define) misdemeanors or felony convictions in the last 5 years.

Consider additional stated requirements (discussion needed):

  • As per city taxicab permit regulations, fingerprint card obtained a city jail on-file.
  • Valid Drivers License (not expressly stated).
  • No DUI conviction in last five (5) years. Discussion?
  • No reckless driving convictions, excluding those strictly for speed in a non-residential setting (road having >35 mph posted speed limit).

 

Sec. 37-60. Applicants to whom city manager may not recommend issuance.

 

The city manager shall not recommend the issuance of a certificate to any applicant for a certificate under the age of twenty-one (21) years, or who is not of good moral character or personally fit to conduct a taxicab business, or who shall have been convicted within five (5) years prior to the date of the hearing of violating any provision of Code of Virginia, Title 4, relating to transportation of liquors or relating to the sale, transportation, possession or distribution of any other controlled substance, or who shall have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor or felony within a period of five (5) years prior to the date of the hearing provided for in section 37-56. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-42; Ord. No. O-96-136 5-14-96)

 

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Taking control, for the right reasons.

This one is for my fellow healthcare providers, an attempt to explain my bizarre actions of late.  Drilling down to the heart of it, I am very frustrated, a little scared, and cautiously optimistic.  I am also stubborn and arrogant.  And frustrated – did I mention that part?

I am pretty well sick of being told what to do.  I am tired of being told what is best, I am fed up with hearing that things have to be done a certain way, or that we are not allowed to do things differently. I reached my limit some time ago.  There are generally two responses to inexorable scenarios: give up, or give in.  But there is another option, and that realization is stoking the smoldering optimism.

I have two examples.

The first is my seemingly unhealthy obsession with this little communication app called qliqsoft.  Anyone so determined to ram it down the throats of his colleagues is surely being paid (or at least has some financial stake in the utilization) because what else could be the motivator?

How about that frustration I mentioned?

I want qliqsoft to become ubiquitous in our healthcare community, but I have absolutely no financial stake in it at all.  None.  Not being paid by them, no investment in their company, no qliqsoft logos on my racecar (which, by the way, I am selling to help fund all of this madness, in case you are interested).  So what’s the big deal?

Lack of communication is a colossal issue that we hear lamented from every corner of our world.  Yet despite the explosion of opportunities to connect in ways that were fantasy just a few years ago, nothing has improved.  Why?  Because everyone is trying to capitalize on the need.  Every single electronic medical record promises to improve communication, but every single one is strategically designed to do one thing first: make money for the manufacturer.  You need the information, but you are going to have to pay to get it.  It is the American way, nothing wrong with that, except the fact that it is keeping us from fixing things. There is a reason EMRs do not seamlessly talk to each other, and it has nothing to do capabilities, nothing to do with HIPAA, but it has everything to do with $$$.

If we as healthcare providers step back from our financial silos and designed a system that would allow us all to communicate, it might look something like this:

  • It needs to be easy. Life is too hectic to have to hunt for a phone number or email address of wait on hold or pull someone out of a room or wonder what office they are working from or if they are even in town today.  I need to be able to type a couple of letters of their name and be done with it.
  • It has to be secure. I have to protect people’s privacy, and I also have to be able to speak openly.
  • It has to be blind to financial or organizational associations. Patients shouldn’t have to care about where, and all of us benefit when we help each other out.
  • It has to be cheap. When one of the biggest problems is cost, spending even more money to try to fix a problem doesn’t make sense.
  • It’s not about the bells and whistles. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complex, we just need to be connected.

Qliqsoft will do all of these.  Is it the only system that could?  I don’t know, and I don’t really care.  It was already here, and that makes it cheaper and easier.  We can use it to collectively build solutions to our problems.  Why didn’t we see it before?  There are forces which don’t really want us to fix these issues, because they won’t be able to capitalize on the need.  Is anyone else going to show us how to do this?  No.  No one else really cares about fixing our problems, they just want to sell us something.  So we either do it ourselves, or we remain pawns in the system.

The second is this transportation app that I am building, which is following the exact same philosophy: don’t capitalize on a need, fix the problem.  In this case, transportation in the city is the problem, and it’s a problem for all of us (whether you know if or not).  It is also critical for the health of our community.  Most assume that it is going to make me a bunch of money.  Since the app will always be free to get or use, there isn’t much hope in that, precisely why the business people say it is folly: it isn’t designed to make money.  Nor is it free transportation for poor people.  So what the hell is it?

Start by looking at Uber.  Uber is nothing more than a modern take on a taxi company, and is analogous to a modern electronic medical record: it is a slick system that intends to capitalize on our need.  In this case, the need is transportation.  Just like an EMR, for Uber to make money, everyone needs to use Uber.  If an EMR’s goal was truly to facilitate communication, it would make it easy, regardless.  If Uber’s goal was to improve transportation, it would work with other assets, not against them.

So if we as a community take a step back and imagine a better system, it would probably look something like this:

  • It has to be for everyone. The situations that are the most difficult to address aren’t where the money is, but they are the most important.
  • It should increase the utility of all existing transportation assets. No part of our current systems is the answer, not taxis, not buses.  But that doesn’t mean you shut them down.  Instead, work with them to make them more effective.
  • It should create new options. If we need to improve transportation, we are only going to do that by growing the system in innovative ways.
  • It has to be safe. Uber puts profits before people, this is about our people.
  • It has to be cheap. When one of the biggest problems is cost, spending even more money to try to fix a problem doesn’t make sense.
  • Use all the bells and whistles. And give them to everyone, to make every part of the system more effective.

MoveUP will do all of these.  We can use it to collectively build solutions to our problems.  Why doesn’t something like it already exist? There are forces which don’t really want us to fix these issues, because they won’t be able to capitalize on the need.  Is anyone else going to show us how to do this?  No.  No one else really cares about fixing our problems, they just want to sell us something.  So we either do it ourselves, or we remain pawns in the system.

Sound familiar?

This is why I am pushing qliqsoft. This is why I am building MoveUP. If you are frustrated, you can give up, or you can give in.  I’d rather give them all the bird.  I am tired of being told what is best, of hearing that things have to be done a certain way, that we aren’t allowed to do things differently.  We have everything we need, right here, and we know better than anyone else how to fix our own problems.  We just have to have the courage to do it.