After we noted earlier this week Philadelphia’s forcing of any blogger with blogging income to pay the city’s business privilege license ($50/year or $300 for lifetime), several others have weighed in on the matter.
Reason Foundation notes this as another example of the misuse of occupation licensing:
Business and occupational licensing regulations are just another example of such coercive molestation. If governments truly want to help improve the economy, they can best do it by simply removing these barriers to work and entrepreneurship and allowing greater economic liberty to naturally lead to greater economic prosperity.
Jason Stverak of the Franklin Center posits that this fee may discourage citizen-reporters:
People tend to forget that bloggers are not all teenagers grumbling about their bad dates or conspiracy theorists railing against the government. The blogosphere is no longer just for ranters and ideologues. Increasingly, straight-shooting journalists cut from newsrooms are becoming online citizen journalists or forming non-profit online journalism organizations. These seasoned journalists-turned-bloggers will quit blogging if they are taxed on their meager profits.
Alex Charyna writes that this is just another money-grab from the city:
I think the city has a sound position. It’s not about free speech or liberty or whatever. It’s about money. Some blogs run as a business (very little, but some income), and the city isn’t business friendly. 50 years of a Democrat run city has led them to scrape the bottom of the bottom of the barrel for any possible source of income. That’s the message that needs to sent.
Business people (of all kinds) have no friends in City Hall.
Freedomworks echoes this sentiment, noting the rampant corruption and overspending in the City of Brotherly Love:
Philadelphia faces a budget crisis due to massive overspending by lawmakers on wasteful projects. In order to make up for their $179 million shortfall, Philadelphia’s government has proposed everything from steep soda taxes to property tax increases.
And Paul Jacob fears the business privilege license could indeed be used as a tool against free speech:
Philadelphia’s pursuit of imaginary scofflaws may amount to just an obtuse lunge for hitherto unextracted funds. But the new protocol is also a weapon that could be selectively deployed, now or later, to harass bloggers who publish inconvenient words. Wouldn’t be the first time in our history that the power to tax has been turned to such ends.