Politically correct East Lansing has run a green business out of town in a victory of the bureaucrat over the entrepreneur. Last year Dave Thorin launched "Spar-Thai" a bike-taxi service to shuttle folks around Michigan State's campus. He considered it an eco-friendly and unique service. Now, Mr. Thorin tells the Lansing State Journal that city fees put him under. He says he could handle the $100 per vehicle charge and the annual $200 fee but the $80 per driver application cost was too much for the drivers. The Lansing State Journal:
"I know I lost a lot and I'm not going to say money is not important ... but it hurt a lot more in other ways," Thorin said. "The idea that you spend a great deal of time and effort and you think it's going to be of help and make the community better and something a little outside of the box ... and to have something as small as a city clerk's office to squash it is really, really disappointing, more so than the financial side of it."
Mr. Thorin was required to pay $30, plus additional fees for drug testing, fingerprinting and other items. In a page out of the European Union business and policy manual, East Lansing's Clerk nearly tripled the fee to $80 after a study showed that it cost the city more than $30 just to process the paperwork. No word on how much the study cost.
As a city resident I had slept better knowing that East Lansing had properly regulated the thriving rickshaw trade; that all drivers had been licensed, fingerprinted and drug tested. It reminds me of asking Arlo Guthrie if he was sane enough to serve in Vietnam. One can only imagine the horrors that could be brought by an unlicensed and undocumented driver.
And while we can laugh-just another small business thrown under the bus by the liberal imperative to rule and regulate-it's frightening to think of the cumulative costs that we all bear. Were that cost-benefit analysis done, the bureaucrats and not Mr. Thorin would be unemployed.