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America’s Increasingly Lazy Rent-Seekers

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"America’s Increasingly Lazy Rent-Seekers"

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I’m slightly amazed by the frequency with which you read local news stories in which some rent-seeking special interest group doesn’t even bother to come up with a public interest rationale for its agenda. Take taxi reform in New York:

Yellow taxis, with medallions that fetch nearly a million dollars at auction, have long dominated city politics and have the exclusive right to pick up street hails in the city. The agreement, if it passes, would be a rare loss for the industry, which had argued that giving liveries the right to pick up passengers who don’t call ahead would destroy the value of taxi medallions.

Presumably relaxing the scope of the yellow cabs’ monopoly will, in fact, reduce the value of taxi medallions. But what kind of reason is that? Should New York City have prohibited digital cameras on the grounds that they destroyed the value of all the storefront one-hour photo places the city used to have?

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