Economics

Atlanta's Job-Killing Street Vendor Monopoly

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The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging Atlanta's grant of an exclusive vending franchise to a single company, which now enjoys monopoly powers over all street vending on public property. Among the many losers in this sweetheart deal are longtime street vendors Larry Miller and Stanley Hambrick, who have spent years running successful merchandise stands outside of the Atlanta Braves stadium. Now each man faces upwards of $20,000 per year in rent if they want to occupy a state-sanctioned kiosk in the same location. So much for the city government supporting small businesses and fostering entrepreneurship.

For more on the case, check out this video produced by the Institute for Justice:

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  1. Son of a bitch must pay!

    1. burn his shit down & waterboard the scum

  2. WTF is “Atlanta Braves stadium?” It’s Turner Field.

    1. I’m guessing they said that because people outside of Atlanta might not know what Turner Field is.

      1. In Chicago we still call ’em Sox Park and Cubs Park. Let’s face it, the teams are there longer than the names are on the stadia.

    2. If they’ve been selling for 30 years half of it was outside Fulton County Stadium.

      1. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium

    3. Since stadium wasn’t capitalized, “the Atlanta Braves stadium” obviously means the stadium that the Atlanta Braves play their home games in. It clearly wasn’t a proper name but rather a description of the stadium. Really, it’s not that hard to understand for the rest of us.

  3. From a city whose unemployment rate is at 10.5%:

    After leveling off for a few months this year, metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate shot up to 10.5 percent in June from a revised 9.7 percent in May.

    http://www.ajc.com/business/me…..55755.html

  4. The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging Atlanta’s grant of an exclusive vending franchise to a single company, which now enjoys monopoly powers over all street vending on public property.

    But otherwise it would be like Somalia!

    Somalia, I tell you!

    ROADZ!

  5. I’ve got friends in western Georgia, in pretty damn cool small-government-culture areas, and they must LOVE the statism in their major cities.

    It must suck even more balls for Californian or New Yorker small-government types, since their big cities are just out of this world in terms of statist retardation. Let’s pray for them!

    1. Thank you. We need your prayers.

  6. Bureaucrats should pay an annual fee for a licensing and regulating certificate. Board members who impose a fee on business should be forced to personally match that fee at the time it is imposed. Cities need money! The free rides must end!

    1. “Bureaucrats should eat shit and die.”

      There, fixed it for you.

      1. Do you have a job?

        1. Yeah, and it pays pretty damn well, too. Thanks for the concern.

  7. Live in ATL – the city doesn’t soak businesses nearly as bad as others, but they can do graft as good as anyone.

    As an example, the city and Fulton county jointly own Turner Field. Part of the reason getting in and out of the stadium’s parking lots is like driving through Beijing is that there is no MARTA stop at the stadium. This situation is in place because city bureaucrats have been handing out no-bid management contracts for all the parking lots there since the mid-60s.

    Aside from all that, fight on IJ. While the ACLU crows about protecting liberties, IJ is the only one out there actually fighting for them on behalf of the little guy.

    1. The Ga State station is the Turner Field station. Its a short fucking walk.

  8. Now each man faces upwards of $20,000 per year in rent if they want to occupy a state-sanctioned kiosk in the same location.

    It’s fairly uncommon to state rents in per-year amounts, so I can only assume Mr Root is going for the shock value of “$20,000”. That works out to $1,667 a month which is fairly reasonable for downtown commercial real estate in a large city, no?

    If it’s such an exorbitant rate I’m sure one of the nearby private property owners will be willing to charge him a more reasonable amount. I know that doesn’t jibe with Reason’s bizarre (at least bizarre for libertarians) new position that the government must provide rent-free space for anyone who wants to run a business, but it just might work.

    1. Their rent jumped from $250 a year to $500-$1600 a month.They were legal on the sidewalk for 30 years, they would be illegal on a “gypsy lot” (private property).

      1. They shouldn’t be restricted from operating on private property, I agree. But they have no right to set up a structure on property that isn’t theirs without the permission of the owner.

        1. You still sticking to the “government is the owner, can do whatever the fuck wants” crap?

          1. How is that crap?

            You do acknowledge that the owner of a property can do as the owner pleases with their property, right? (so long as they don’t harm others or violate contracts etc)

            1. Well, the government has exclusive ownership of all “public” property, including all streets in the city. It’s a monopoly, and it’s granting a monopoly over all vending to one entity.

              Generally, I think that a city government should take care to treat all citizens and business interests equally, which means it should be forbidden from granting exclusive rights to one entity, even if that might be the easiest way to raise revenue. The city government ought to be putting equal treatment of all citizens and minimal interference with their ability to enter the market ahead of maximizing revenue flowing into the city coffers.

              1. Just to add, it’s granted that ownership as a matter of popular consent by the people. The government does not acquire the land through some sort of fair business process of purchasing it. So while it’s technically the “owner” in some sense, it’s not really free to do whatever it wants. It must manage it in a way that is in the public interest… which includes liberty and fairness interests, and not just optimizing the revenue stream.

                1. Technically govt administers public property on behalf of the public, but the decision-making process is not affected by this distinction. As the true owner, the public can fire the administrators if it doesn’t feel its interest is being served.

                  Yes, I know it’s not that simple, and I know that this is not a perfect way of enforcing the will of the public, but I haven’t seen any alternative way that works better.

                  This is the basis of a lot of the friction I get into on this blog — I’m looking for practical solutions to problems that are workable in the real world, while a lot of folks here seem to expect some sort of libertarian King Solomon to make and enforce all the right decisions with regard to the use of public property, etc, (which just happen to line up with their opinions). It astounds me how people think I’m playing devil’s advocate when I’m just bringing up practical concerns.

                  1. I haven’t seen any alternative way that works better.

                    ?? h?li myndarleg manneskja!

            2. You walk on the sidewalk, we get the right to punch you in the nuts. I guess you would be OK with that law? Hey, statism is fun!

              1. You missed what I said about the BoR. And of course, no property owner has the right to do bodily harm to people who enter its property lawfully.

          2. IM the owner of all public property, I grant them permission.

  9. Tulpa, $1667/month = $20,000/year. If one is unreasonable, so is the other.

    And a kiosk, let’s see, let’s be generous and estimate it at 60 sq. feet, with no utilities. That’s nearly $28/square foot. Google tells me that’s about 50% more than Class A office space.

    Nope. Still sounds like graft to me.

    Not to mention that this isn’t the City providing “rent-free space” to anyone. This is the City allowing someone to set up their kiosk outdoors.

    I’m curious, though, as to why you seem to think there’s no problem with the City creating an outright monopoly for this.

    1. Tulpa, $1667/month = $20,000/year. If one is unreasonable, so is the other.

      People aren’t computers. Framing matters. For instance, stating that the national debt is $14.55 trillion produces a very different impact from saying it’s $46,600 for every US citizen.

      In any case, if he doesn’t like the rent the city offers he’s free to find a private owner willing to rent space nearby. How this basic machination of the free market has become anathema to libertarians is giving me quite the head itch.

      Not to mention that this isn’t the City providing “rent-free space” to anyone. This is the City allowing someone to set up their kiosk outdoors.

      There is such a thing as outdoor private property, you know?

      I’m curious, though, as to why you seem to think there’s no problem with the City creating an outright monopoly for this.

      I think it’s stupid of them to do so, but it’s the city’s property, they can do as they wish with it so long as they don’t violate the Bill of Rights by their actions.

      1. I think it’s stupid of them to do so, but it’s the city’s property, they can do as they wish with it so long as they don’t violate the Bill of Rights by their actions.

        I know that in these here modern times, public property means that we don’t own it. We get that. “You can’t be here, this is public property!”.

        However, being “public property”, it’s property whose use should be spread as evenly and fairly as possible amongst, you know, the public. Therefore, creating onerous rents, fees, or access provisions for “the public” to be able to use said property violates the spirit of what “public property” is.

        Which is why all public property is theft. At least in its modern manifestation.

        1. However, being “public property”, it’s property whose use should be spread as evenly and fairly as possible amongst, you know, the public.

          As determined by whom?

          Therefore, creating onerous rents, fees, or access provisions for “the public” to be able to use said property violates the spirit of what “public property” is.

          As determined by whom?

          1. As determined by whom?

            I guess the question is which individuals own the property?

          2. As determined by whom?

            When access is prevented by the people in charge, it will be determined by the courts.

      2. Oh, and the spirit of public property access should transcend whomoever’s currently in charge. Otherwise it’s not a democracy, it’s an oligarchy of public/private partnerships.

        1. Wonderful, wonderful-sounding principles. How are you going to implement them in the real world though?

          This isn’t an access issue anyway. It’s an exclusion issue. This guy wants to be able to set up a kiosk which will prevent others from being able to use the area on which he sets it up. What if I want to use that space to do an expressive dance protesting the Federal Reserve? “Sorry Tulpa, some guy set up a kiosk there so you can’t express yourself. And you can’t dismantle his kiosk to make room for your busting of moves either.”

          He’s the one violating unfettered access to public property, not the city.

          1. Nice little strawman you got there.

            If the single kiosk took up the entire property, border to border, you might have a point. But then we’d have the exact situation you’re trying to defend: the government selling exclusive rights to a single vendor on public property.

            You do realize that “free speech” zones do essentially just this. Which is why we rage against those as well.

            The government must make every reasonable effort to give as much equal access to public property as it can.

            Selling access to public property to a sole proprietor essentially treats public property like I treat my backyard. They aren’t the same. The government doesn’t own public property- I do, you do, and all the vendors trying to get access to it do. Government doesn’t own property the way I own my backyard. The irony being of course, that I have fewer rights to dispose of my personal property than the government has on public property.

      3. People aren’t computers.

        Yes they are. In fact, the term was applied to people before it was applied to machines.

      4. They violated the 9th amendment. 🙂

  10. Atlanta. Cleveland of the South.?

  11. Here’s a thought … monarchs in the merchantilist period used to grant monopolies as political favors. Why? Possibly to reinforce political support behind their claim to the throne. Also, to raise funds to finance wars.

    It’s pretty obvious that a similar dynamic is at work in these cases. The city grants a monopoly becaise (a) it needs the money that selling the exclusive right will bring in, and (b) it wins political backing for the establishment party from that particular merchant.

    1. Well, Bradshaw, it’s like in the Army, you know the great Prince issues commands, founds states, vests families with fiefs, inferior people should not be employed.

      1. Nick, I can’t knock success. But you still put me through too many changes.

  12. So much for the city government supporting small businesses and fostering entrepreneurship.

    They didn’t mean small business, the government meant small business. Those kiosks aren’t that big. Therefore the government is supporting very small businesses.

  13. The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging Atlanta’s grant of an exclusive vending franchise to a single company, which now enjoys monopoly powers over all street vending on public property.

    Fascism 101=It is easier to extort money from a single, government-approved cartel than from a thousand small business owners.

    1. Extort? Pretty sure the interest that bought the monopoly did so willingly.

  14. Sounds kinda crazy to me dude. Wow.

    http://www.privacy-tools.no.tc

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