Do not invest in economic privileges

I was contemplating the wreckage that the Internet is making of all licensed systems. Licensing is permission of the state, at whatever level, to perform an activity without which it would be illegal. Broadcasting, practising a profession, driving a taxi, owning a strip club, running a business in a city: all of these require licences.

Does your licence sell for more than you bought it? Doesit comport an economic rent, as the economists would ask? Is it scarce and sought after, or is it merely a fee to operate?

Unless your licence is merely a fee without an economic privilege, I would seriously contemplate when its value will be reduced to zero by the Internet.

Canadian broadcasting licences? Five years?

Taxi plates? five to ten years?

What about membership in the bar?In regulated professions generally? When will some legal service headquartered in Bombay supply you with better and cheaper advice than you can get from locally licensed lawyers? When will some 34 year old local lawyer be the front man or woman for a global legal service which that lawyer, or you the client,  accesses for research, back-up and filings that a downtown firm cannot do for less than $5,000. And your cost will be half that of less.


The reason I say this is that I am seeing Internet delivered services compete successfully against licenced undertakings in ever broadening circles of life. If you do not think it is coming to a licensed undertaking near you, think again.

“Put not your trust in princes’, said Thomas Wentworth, first Earl of Strafford, as he was led away to the chopping block.

Put not your trust in princes to save the value of your licences, either, as they are led away to the wreckers.

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