Police are the New Taxi Drivers

This article discusses a bit of current news which is that police want an app called Waze disabled.

Described by some as a police tracking app, Waze is actually a GPS app which competes with Google Maps. It has additional functionality in that users can mark spots on the road and input various kinds of information. Information includes objects in the road, construction, wrecks, slick spots from ice, and other information including cop speed traps.

Cops are claiming that the app could be used maliciously to track down cops when people want to harm them. No evidence has been presented that such activity is a real danger, other than the general idea that some people are bad and want to hurt cops, therefore every precaution should be taken. As we will see this logic doesn’t hold up and this seems to be the latest government boogie man let loose to generate government control.

A clear effect is that cops will be able to issue less tickets. This will make raising revenue and hitting quotas much harder. Waze is actually contributing to people slowing down before they see the cop. In other words, Waze is creating the desired effect of safe driving in an even more effective way than police without the cost. Waze is the new Uber and it is not out-competing mere pedestrian taxi drivers, it is out-competing the government!

Better yet, it is out-competing law enforcement which is supposedly the epitome of a service which government can only provide. This is further evidence that security can be privatized and that an ancap society is plausible.

Another point is that because Waze is causing drivers to obey the law more stringently, it would theoretically save additional pedestrian lives because that is the point of a speed limit to begin with, although there are problems with the speed limit thing which we will touch on in a moment. So theoretically Waze is saving pedestrian lives even at the same time it allegedly exposes cops to some risk of additional danger. Who is the government to say that cop lives matter more than pedestrian lives? That is not a valid claim and therefore it is not the case that Waze should be foregone on grounds of cop security.

Waze is also a matter of free speech. The functionality objected to is people talking to each other through text on an app. This is a constitutional issue and also an economic issue. Free information leads to efficiency.

There is a large related issue which is the problem of speed limits per se. Speed limits are politically and thereby inefficiently selected. Inefficient speed limits can and do damage the economy broadly by reducing delivery speed, increasing shipping costs, increasing transaction costs, reducing the availability of non-durable goods, causing traffic, and much more. I think the economic impact is evident empirically and logically to everyone, but one small piece of evidence would be the fact that Texas currently has the highest speed limits in the Union and the best economy in the Union.


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