Asō Tarō on the income effects of deregulation:
As for the dispute over income inequality (kakusa), another commonly used phrase is "the black hat side of deregulation." The examples that are trotted out are, due to deregulation, the low levels of income among taxi drivers and the shrinkage in the number of permanent employees and the increase in the number of part-timers sent by personnel services companies.Source:
Now it certain that due to deregulation the number of taxis has increased and the fare prices have dropped. It is said the median incomes of taxi drivers have fallen.
Even if that is the case, let us think about this, not just concentrating on the negative side. If deregulation had never happened, it is probably true that the incomes of the then existing taxi drivers would not have fallen. However, on the other hand, that would have probably meant that those in their middle age or in their senior years who had been laid off due to the economic slump would not have found new work opportunities as drivers. Would those persons have simply become "the unemployed" or been forced to take jobs featuring even worse conditions? Probably. In those cases, income would have been a) zero, or b) less than what they are making now.
If there had not been a deregulation of the taxi industry, it is possible that income disparity (shotoku kakusa) would be even greater than it is now. Because the number of part-timers and those sent by personnel services companies has increased, the income disparity between those individuals and permanent employees has grown larger. If, however, the number of unemployed has decreased by that fraction (of persons employed part-time or via personnel services contracts), it is not possible that for society as a whole, inequality has decreased?
Tarō Asō, Totetsu Mo Nai Nihon (Tokyo: Shinchosha, 2007), pp. 95-6.
Competition is good. More flexible labor markets are good. Unfortunately not increasing the ability of individuals to put greater competition to their own advantage -- i.e., without giving taxi drivers the right to work harder and more, if they want to -- the only result is lower median incomes. The bias, given the fixed hours of operation, would be toward more aggressive driving (to chase down more fares) and poorer point-to-point service (in favor of rides beginning and ending on major thoroughfares) -- both of which are net social negatives.
The above passage from your book also places your little visit to the Takadanobaba Station roundabout in a whole new light.