Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Short Story about Ahkbar

Once upon a time, there was a guy named, "Ahkbar."

He was about 37 years old at the time of this adventure.

Born in Iraq, he could remember living in refugee camps as a child... and being shuffled from place to place until his family finally settled in Canada. (Ah Freedom!)

To make a long story shorter, Ahkbar ended up driving a taxi in Hamilton, Ontario.

During the bubble years up until 2008.... the cab business in Hamilton had almost (almost) recovered from the damage done to it by various governments in the early 1990's.

Ahkbar and many other immigrants, having been denied the opportunity to build a decent future for themselves in their new homeland because of accelerating government sclerotization of the economy in general, and their labour market interventions in particular ended up driving cabs in Hamilton.

There were signs that the cab business in Hamilton might finally be coming back to life. Weekends were becoming quite lucrative. Some drivers said they were pulling in as much as $600 on a Friday or Saturday night shift.

Some cab drivers even went out and bought nice houses. With hefty mortgages.

Other cab drivers did not buy nice houses. They had been in the business for a while. They had already been through prior recessions. They did not want to find themselves caught in upside-down mortgage situations at the same time that demand for their services plummeted.

Then a couple of things started to happen.

1 - the price of gas went way up. Since the drivers had to pay for their own gas before taking home their earnings the increase in gas prices hurt them.

Of course they wanted some kind of relief from this pain.

And where had Canadians accustomed themselves to turning whenever they found themselves in need of some kind of "relief?"

(If the answer to that question eludes you... just turn on CBC radio.)

Of course, it was common knowledge at the time. If one was in need of relief all they had to do was turn to Pepto-Local Government. And if there was a little too much of Pepto-Local Government one could always resort to Provincial Exlax and the McGoofball effluent would abound.

So, in accordance with their training in mandatory government youth incarceration and indoctrination centers, they looked to their god for relief.

What specific power (ooohhhhh ... ghoulish sounds..... P O W E Rrrrrrrrrr) did their god have?

Well, it's quite simple. Their god had the power to issue mandates. It had the power to legislate prosperity.

And so, in it's infinite wisdom and compassion, their god did what it does so well.... it waved its magic wand, it codified a new mandate, and it decreed a 30% increase in taxi rates.

It would have been nice, for cab drivers, if they lived in a world where a 30% increase in the price of their services did not prompt any of their customers to think twice about employing them.

Sadly, the world does not seem to work that way. HSR ridership went up 6% in the wake of the increase.


By one account, taxi business volume declined by 40% within a month of the mandatory standard of living increase to cab drivers.


Some cab drivers tried to warn the others about what would happen if they increased the cost of their services. They were laughed at.

Some cab drivers tried to point out that,

2 - there was some shit happening in the United States mortgage market. The world might be moving into another recession...

and that if we were moving into another recession..... it would be a really bad time to have the audacity to increase our own prices when demand for almost everything else was likely to go.... d o w n..... w ay .... d....o....w..... n.

But no.

Politics trumped the market. A recommendation for a rate increase was voted on by local politicians after about three seconds worth of consideration.....

and the lives of about 1,200 Hamilton cab drivers started to slowly swirl around the drain.


Two years into what some are calling the "Greater Depression," our friend Ahkbar found himself working for about $3 to $4 dollars per hour.

(Don't it make you feel warm all over when you ponder the awesome power of legislation? )

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Ahkbar also found himself unable to afford the cost of automobile insurance (surely, one of the more politicized expenses,) and he

gone and done a bad thing.... driving without insurance.

Got caught.

Got fined $5000

("Driving is a privilege, not a right," according to the Gov. Inc. monopoly road mentality.)

and then... on November 1, 2010

Ahkbar gone and done another bad thing.....

He made an illegal left turn.

He got three tickets for the bad thing he did.

He showed 'em to me.

1 - the address on his license had not been updated within the specified time.... I think that was $110.

2 - Even though he was driving his mother's car.... and the pink liability slip was in the glove compartment he was charged with failure to provide proof of insurance... or whatever.. $65.

3 - though the whole incident was precipitated because he made an illegal left-hand turn... there was no ticket for that... instead, there was a ticket for "Careless Driving," .... about $490.

There was something about the cop touching his arm and then using that as an excuse to slap the cuffs on Ahkbar.

One of the cops made a comment about the book he saw on the seat of Ahbar's mother's car... a book about Adolf Hitler.... it came across more as an accusation what mere comradery curiosity.

Comments were made about his immigration status.

Ahkbar then spent three hours at the police station.

All of this because he wanted to buy a coffee at Tim Horton's.

Well, that is my story.

Of course, it is all fiction.

We all know that cops are really decent people who care about freedom and justice.

I mean, in your personal experience, hasn't that always been true?


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