Reynolds: Politicians put graft before progress

USA Today:

On Twitter, the other day, someone tweeted a quote from Will Spencer: “When life gives you lemons, apply for a business license, a food service license, and a sales tax license and make lemonade.”

This cynical-but-realistic statement drew a reply in the same vein from Tennessee Sen. Frank Niceley: “Then hire a lobbyist to make lemonade consumption mandatory and subsidize it.” Another cynic responded: “You then also need to require government approval to open new lemonade stands.” And the final word in this little colloquy was: “Then lobby again for regulations you can handle, but will bury your competition.”

Cynical or not, these statements accurately describe why economic progress is so much harder today than it once was. But why is it so much harder? And why are so many politicians coming out against innovative new services such as Uber or Airbnb? The answer, I think, is simple: Those new services offer insufficient opportunities for graft. The old services they compete with — hotels or taxi companies — offer politicians a better deal, even if the deal they offer for consumers often isn’t as good. And politicians back the companies because — and be clear about this — politicians don’t care about you, they care about using their positions to accumulate money, power and prestige.

Democrats risk losing Millennials if they keep going after upstart businesses like Uber because Millennials love Uber. They love using their smartphones to organize and execute their daily events and they love that Uber competes with the taxi cartels. They love it for the same reasons they love Netflix, because it competes with something they absolutely hate, such as Comcast.

Millennials don’t own things, not even a car for many of them. The use Car2go where they can rent by the minute, use an App on their phone to find a parked car nearby, and then use a card on a reader to unlock the doors and drive off. When they’re done with the car they can leave it in any legal parking space. Perfect for the Millennial lifestyle.  Ain’t free markets great!

More and more of these sorts of convenient solutions to everyday challenges are being developed. They all offer insufficient opportunities for graft, so you can bet that politicians will try to stifle them to protect their cronies, and their own power and money.  Republican establishment types are also into this game. This presents an opportunity for conservatives and Tea Party types to move in and capture young voters.  It’s an opportunity to spit in the eye of McConnell, Boehner and their ilk.

Read all of Reynolds’ article.

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