Saturday, December 3, 2016

Uber Positive

One of the bright lights of the new economy is the ride-sharing service Uber. There's a short 46-page book now available, Uber Positive, that describes the motivation behind opposition to Uber in New York City from the entrenched taxi medallion owners and blowhard Progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio. The opposition has nothing to do with safety and consumer protection, just the effort of a highly-leveraged medallion owner to cover his ass by enlisting the support of sympathetic politicians. And "enlisting the support" of course follows the legalized form of bribery known as campaign contributions.

The author is a brilliant young man named Jared Meyer. And I'm not just saying that because he's my cousin Julie's son. He pops up from time to time on Stossel and other Fox News/Fox Business shows.

Friday, December 2, 2016


The LA Times recently carried a delusional op-ed about how a small band of plucky grass roots organizers were victorious in passage of a South Dakota ballot measure for public financing of political campaigns.

Like so much surrounding Initiated Measure 22, this is a load of crap. The public finance aspect of this 34-page measure was NEVER mentioned by proponents in their advertising, which by the way was largely financed by out-of-state Progressives. The advertising implied that South Dakota elected officials were thieves who needed to be reigned in by creation of an ethics board and limitations on gifts. I believe the measure gained traction because of a high-profile case of unelected bureaucrats stealing from a Native American education program. Elected officials were guilty of inadequate oversight of the program, but not of corruption. I believe nothing in the measure does anything to address the issues raised by this notorious case, but 52% of the voters were motivated to pass something, anything to crack down on government ethics.

The op-ed piece rightly gives credit to the extremely smug Rick Weiland for this victory. After Weiland lost the Senate race in 2014 by 50-30 to Mike Rounds (arguably the weakest prominent Republican in the state) and other Democrats experienced similar drubbings, the op-ed notes that Mr. Smug turned to promoting ballot measures. Weiland and his henchmen found three issues where they could find out-of-state money to back them. It's somewhat ironic that the only one that passed with this massive outsider financial support was IM 22, which was supposedly about campaign finance reform.

The benefit of having a Constitution at both the state and federal level is it is more difficult for demagogues to seize on transitory issues. IM 22 appropriates $12 million from the state general fund for public campaign financing. This aspect of the measure may be unconstitutional because only the current legislature can appropriate funds for the current year, and cannot write a law binding future legislatures to make specific appropriations. (The other aspects of the law could be a pain in the ass for candidates but don't really matter to most citizens.) I will rejoice when this ridiculous drain on the state treasury is declared invalid. The $12 million is better spent on roads and schools.

Update: In his 2017 proposed budget, the governor has recommended that the legislature appropriate $0 to the public financing fund. In other words, go f--- yourself, Rick Weiland, we have priorities other than your stupid slush fund.

Another update: The Legislature repealed the law. There are some bills being considered to reinstate pieces of it. But Rick Weiland's slush fund will not be one of them.