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Portland Citizens Take Themselves for a Ride

Here's an idea. I propose that our local government pass a law that forces some businesses to charge a lot more for their services than their competitors, and do a worse job at the services they provide.

No, not a law that causes that to happen as a side effect. Instead, a law that does so purposely and openly, and plainly explains that the purpose is to favor some competitors over others.

And if you happen to be in one of those businesses who sells a coupon that offers a competitive price and faster service, the fines would be so large that to pay them would put you out of business.

Why do that? Well, it's because certain businesses promise us political support and/or money. You think a law like that is preposterous? You don't like the idea? Tough.

So let's stop the charade, I don't propose a law like that, I merely report it to you as fact. Such a law is being enforced in Portland Oregon against limousine and sedan services who compete with taxi cabs. As a news story in the Weekly Standard has it:

"The Portland city council two years ago put in place regulations that force limousine and sedan services to charge a $50 minimum for rides to and from the airport, and at least 35 percent more than taxis for trips to any other destination. And these transportation companies cannot pick up customers until at least an hour after the customer calls for a ride.
And it gets worse. Daily deal companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial partner with local businesses looking for new customers and offer limited-time specials that allow people to buy goods and services at a discounted price. 
But when two companies offered their chauffeur services at a cut-rate through Groupon in separate months last year, Portland responded each time by assessing fines on every Groupon sold: a total of $635,500 for and $259,500 for Fiesta Limousine. The firms refunded their would-be customers rather than risk going bankrupt."
 The article includes a link to a Huffington Post story that quotes the "surprisingly frank rationale" the Portland officials give for this tyranny. You can read much more about this here, if you have the stomach for it.

But before you direct your anger toward the arrogant imbeciles who made and enforce this law, always remember, the voters put these people in office. And they keep them there.

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