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The plight of the rickshaw driver is part of an overall problem where the permitting structure prevents small operators from bootstrapping a business.
The cost for a certificate is the same whether you operate a two-person rickshaw, as this gentleman does, or a fleet of buses capable of hauling hundreds a day. Add to that the cost of insurance, which has to be prepaid and is required to get the permit and the cost of a business license (hiked by the Murkowski administration) where the state charges the rickshaw driver the same two-year license fee as it charges the oil companies, and it is evident that the old days of starting a business on a shoestring and benefiting from the tourism dollars is gone. Something is wrong with this picture.
The Empire has just run a series about affordable housing. But affordable housing is just part of the picture. If only those with big bucks can get an economic toehold then we have economic downward spiral.
I don't have much hope for state licensing changes, but certainly the city could alter the status quo by charging by carrying capacity rather than having a flat fee. This is also a wonderful opportunity for community organizations to develop programs that assist small entrepreneurs to get started.