A new investigation by The New York Times has exposed the financial schemes at the root of the New York City taxi driver crisis. While the advent of apps like Uber and Lyft contributed to a loss of income for licensed taxi drivers, the exposé finds that a taxi medallion bubble helped lay the groundwork for their economic devastation.
A group of industry leaders artificially inflated the cost of taxi medallions and orchestrated a predatory lending scheme, collecting millions of dollars in the process and putting many drivers into debilitating debt.
City agencies did little to curb the system, which a Harvard professor called “modern-day indentured servitude.” In response to the report, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would launch an investigation into the predatory practices of taxi medallion brokers. New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced her office is also initiating an investigation.
At least eight drivers have died by suicide—including three taxi medallion owners—since the start of 2018, with at least some of the drivers linking the decision to their crushing debt. Democracy Now! speaks with investigative reporter Brian Rosenthal, who wrote the report.
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