Medallions and skill-estate
Returning to the specific subject of skill-estate.
The big problem is that we understand and respect skill-estate in some contexts, but we don't have a vocabulary or a legal structure to protect and regulate it.
Intellectual property, which is parallel to skill-estate and even overlaps in some ways, has a name and a legal structure, so we know how to protect it and how to limit it.
Uber vs Taxi provides a clear flashpoint, and shows the proper boundaries of skill-estate. Taxi systems own a fairly small amount of skill, but many of them have overused the skill to create falsely valued Medallions. Uber takes advantage of the misvalue. This is unfair to taxi services in non-Medalliony cities, who have a serious investment in cars and dispatch and repair garages. A balance will eventually be struck, but the cultural and media defense of Uber will push the balance against the taxis.
A similar balancing process already occurred in quasi-medical professions like audiology and optometry. Both tried to maintain a Medallion-like monopoly on high-priced devices while simple hearing aids and reading glasses have been available cheaply
for many decades. The monopoly gave way to public information, leaving the real professionals dealing with more complex medical situations.
Right now the same process is starting for prosthetists, as 3d printing makes simple prostheses easy to build. Not really new: hand replacements have always been possible with simple wood and leather technology. The fad for 3d will inevitably fade, but the Medallion has been busted. Prosthetists will have to sparsify and regroup just as audiologists did.
Big lessons from those professions:
New tech can't be blocked by pure monopolistic force. It requires an adaptation.
BUT: New tech can't be allowed to dissolve the profession. Real professionals with real experience can give answers and provide services that CAN'T be replaced by web-found information and 3d printing.
Right now Taxis are in danger of dissolving. They need to regroup, find a more 'professional' set of duties, find a way to be indispensable.
A self-serving suggestion from my own recent experience: I tried to get surgery for a navel hernia. The surgery itself takes an hour, not much worse than major dentistry. But the surgeon wasn't able to do it because idiotic liability rules require an 'escort' to take you home. Taxis aren't allowed. An ambulance would cost $5000. I can't find an 'escort', so I'll have to live with the hernia, or try to find a less legal doctor. Taxi systems could work with the state to provide this service at a reasonable cost. Add a few similar services, and the system becomes indispensable.
Labels: skill-estate, TMI