August 28, 2016

THE BLUE MODEL IN A NUTSHELL: Robbing the New (Uber) to Subsidize the Old (Taxis).

Ronald Reagan famously summed up the logic of government thusly: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Uber and Lyft move, so naturally, the state of Massachusetts wants to tax them. And since taxis aren’t moving nearly as much as they used to, the state wants to hand about a quarter of the tax — five cents out of a 20-cent per-ride levy — to the taxi industry.

This is … words fail. No, literally. I have just spent 20 minutes staring at my screen, trying to come up with something to say other than the blindingly obvious: This is a shamelessly unjustifiable giveaway to a special interest, paid for by taxing a competitor that’s eating their lunch. If our 19th-century forbears had tried to run the economy this way, I would be writing out this column longhand, by the light of a whale-oil lamp.

This is why politicians shouldn’t be given so much power.

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