I thought the headline from the Post and Courier had to be a joke: “Sting catches rickshaw driver giving illegal tour.” It is no joke.
It was a Charleston police sting unlike any other: An undercover cop dressed casually like a tourist taking a ride on a rickshaw.
The goal was to see if any of the downtown drivers were giving illegal speaking tours of the city’s numerous sight-seeing spots.
One of them did, and it cost him a fine of more than $1,000.
City officials have put rickshaw drivers on notice that they can’t give unlicensed tours in pursuit of a few extra dollars in their pocket.
As far as police see it, any retelling for hire about the city’s past can be delivered only by a city-licensed tour guide, like those generally seen driving horse carriages or leading walking tours.
Charleston Police Sgt. Heath King said the sting was arranged after South of Broad residents complained that workers at the city’s three rickshaw companies were giving unsanctioned rides through downtown neighborhoods.
The tours stood out for two reasons – the drivers were giving history lessons, and were also seen doing “laps” on the Battery with the same customers.
Both are against the rules for rickshaws, which are considered more like taxis for “Point A-to-Point B” trips, King said.
When you read a story like this you realize that the idea that American cities have problems with criminals is a ruse to distract you from the fact that American cities are run by criminals. What country do we live in to hear terms like “unsanctioned rides through downtown neighborhoods”? Surely it can’t be America! I heard that was a free country.
Some guy who rides a glorified bicycle for a living was shaken down more than a thousand dollars by people making far more money that he is (or so they think, expecting their pensions to be solvent). Like any organized crime syndicate that threatens to harm people if they “operate” in their territory without getting their permission and providing a cut, the city has licenses for tour guides. No one else is allowed to speak—retelling for hire about the city’s past—First Amendment notwithstanding.
Yesterday I mentioned a group who claimed that licenses were supposed to be a way of making sure that the licensee was properly educated. I replied that licenses are usually nothing more than a method of forming a monopoly or cartel. This is a great example.
The city government and those residents whose neighborhoods are too good for a rickshaw to contaminate their streets need to back down and back off. Get out of the way of people who work for a living.
The only gratifying thing about this story is the mockery that has ensued on social media. Note especially the twitter hashtag #warontourer