Why Republicans Are Not Always Reliable Defenders of Economic Liberty

As an activist against ‘redevelopment,’ I often wondered why Republicans, who posture themselves as the party of  ‘small government’ or ‘limited government,’ were so hard to convince to repeal redevelopment.  Josh Barro, a clever columnist for the New York Times, explains that it’s not just real estate issues like redevelopment.  Uber, the taxi alternative, has been suppressed in Philadelphia, but not so much by the city government as by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, a Pennsylvania state authority dominated by Republican appointees!  And guess in which state Tesla is not allowed to market to consumers?  Texas, that haven of liberty.  And there is one state left where you can “get in trouble for selling a coffin without a license:” it turns out to be Oklahoma.

On the national level, Republicans are usually about ideology; closer to home, they are often about protecting existing business, it seems, against freer competition.  In Republican-dominated Florida, one house voted to eliminate requiring a license to be an interior designer; the other house, after pressure from the existing interior designers, overruled the one house.  I had not thought, but now see, that it is not just big corporations that benefit from limiting competition.  So does small business.  [I am a strong supporter of Institute for Justice, the organization mentioned in the article.]

This is why I so like to reiterate that ‘local control’ and liberty are two different things.  If anything, the more local, not so much closer to the ‘people’ as closer to the local business lobbies.  I fear that when there is a conflict, constituency trumps ideology almost every time – and not just for Republicans.

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