Politics

D.C. Taxi Scandal: Now With More Bribery!

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Ah, yesterday. It was a more innocent time. Back then, my colleague Ron Bailey could write this:

Two exceptionally stupid and mendacious DC City council members, Jim Graham and Muriel Bowser, want to impose a medallion system on DC taxis. 

Ron's naivete turns out to be utterly charming in retrospect. As a story in today's Washington Post reveals, he clearly should have added "corrupt" to the list:

Ted G. Loza, [chief of staff to D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1)] was taken into custody at his home in the 1400 block of Columbia Road NW and is scheduled to make an appearance Thursday in the District's federal court. A dozen federal agents raided Loza's offices at city hall just hours after arresting him.

The charges stem from alleged bribes Loza took from an unidentified person in the taxicab industry, court papers show.

Someone identified in court papers as "Individual Number 1" wanted to limit the number of taxi licenses, in order to make a planned exception for hybrid cars more valuable.

overrun? looks great!

Councilman Graham initially said he was worried that the city would be "overrun" by cabs. Hooey. There is one reason, and one reason only, to favor licensing schemes like this one—if you are an industry insider who wants to keep competition out.

Wait, scratch that. There's one other reason: If you're getting "a stream of things of value" including "cash, the use of vehicles and trips," from the folks in reason number one, you'll probably back a licensing plan, too.

More on the stupidity of occupation licensing here and here. And for God's sake, must D.C. lag behind even Havana on this economic liberty issue?

Adding to Ron's tally of "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" items, this is Edition 5,243,683. Stay tuned for for the inevitable edition 5,243,684 in this ongoing series.