Does "rent-seeking" mean "codependency with rich people"?

Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight reports the practice of taking more than you’ve earned through “rent seeking” is spreading.

A White House report last summer found that occupational licensing requirements have increased fivefold since the 1950s, covering more than a quarter of all workers in 2008. Cosmetologists, tree trimmers and even interior designers need licenses in some states.

… I want the people filling my cavities to know what they’re doing. But it’s hard not to suspect that in many cases, these rules serve another purpose: to make it harder for new competitors to enter the marketplace. …

Economists call this kind of behavior “rent-seeking,” which is another way of saying “gaming the system to make more money than you’ve earned.” (A company that wins a no-bid contract through political connections is a rent-seeker. So is a CEO who gets a raise by stacking the board of directors with friends.) …

Research has found that occupational licenses inhibit entrepreneurship, especially among low-income workers. They also raise prices, lower productivity and limit workers’ ability to change careers or cities. One recent study estimated that licensing laws cost the U.S. as many as 2.85 million jobs.

Is greed ever good for the economy? Should “rent-seeking” policies and practices be stopped?

Via FiveThirtyEight


Some thoughts …

Greed =/= good & rent seeking should be punished by criminal statute and private civil right of action?

Corporations which don’t persuasively demonstrate service to public interest to elected representatives of local communities should lose limited liabilty status and, in cases of wrongdoing by an agent, should be dissolved and assets placed in democratically administered public trust?

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The extent to which all but the upper echelons are currently bled dry should be testament to not only the fact that this shit has gone way too far, but also to a large degree of brainwashing of the general populace, that it’s even tolerated.

Once upon a time, usury was a crime. Now, straight-up fraud on a vast scale is just business as usual.

#fuck that noise
#feel the Bern


Once upon a time it was a sin.


That too, or instead?


Funny that rent-seeking is defined down to potential abuse of occupational licensing. Meanwhile, product markets are locked up away from competition by patents with almost no provision for compulsory licensing. This is an attempt to hide the mountain behind a molehill.


That’s an excellent point. It extends to rent collection for privately owned real property too, doesn’t it?

That would be the dump truck located between the molehill and the mountain. And often not really rent seeking in the economic sense.


How about when folks are priced out of home ownership by the investor class?


Really? It seems like the original sin of government subsidized financing, esp. in cities like San Francisco and New York.

This and also idle rich kids who happen to inherit real property in more exploitable rental markets.

“Often” was the word I used, not “always”, and it’s still dwarfed by the rent seeking behavior in commercial tech mfg, infrastructure, and energy. Property will always have exclusivity which can be bent toward rent seeking, but the fake exclusivity of patented tech, the way the laws are now, is just a much bigger problem.


That makes sense. What’s the remedy?

Presumptive open source licensing and patents absent compelling evidence of benefit to the public interest? Are there exceptional patent cases which should remain proprietary for some term of years, e.g., to recover research and development costs?

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