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Dutch MPs Ponder Possibility that Innovation Might be Good

Despite a flagrant disregard for property rights and so much red tape that Amsterdam is one of the most difficult cities in the world for potential visitors to find a vacation rental at a reasonable price, it appears that an unexpected new Age of Enlightenment is sweeping the Dutch parliament, with some MPs daring to wonder if, perhaps, The Netherlands might be missing an opportunity by being one of the few countries to essentially ban their citizens from using innovative online companies such as Uber or Airbnb to find a service they are happy to buy, or even to make money from their time and property that would otherwise go unused.

Democrats 66 MP Kees Verhoeven stunned colleagues by observing that new competitors in existing markets give consumers more choice. Of course, he quickly clarified, they should obey the existing laws. In the case of the Netherlands, this is a vital clarification, as it has more that enough rules and red tape to kill innovation stone dead before it can even begin to threaten the golden circle of existing businesses.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Dutch hotel industry, where an absence of any meaningful competition has allowed a small group of businesses to charge among the highest room rates in Europe, while providing an indifferent or, sometimes, downright bad service. The hotel lobby has been so successful in persuading the authorities to protect their monopoly against the rise of online bookings that, incredibly, the Amsterdam City Council, accompanied by armed police, carries out dawn raids on private properties where it is believed tourists may be lurking.

For Amsterdammers with property – which they paid for, pay council tax on and whose repair and upkeep they are entirely responsible for – which they are hoping to rent out to tourists, an example of the sort of red tape that pretty much torpedoes them before they even start is the rule that they can only rent it out for a total of two months of the year. This means that, unlike vacation rental owners in pretty much every other part of the world, they must offer an online booking calendar that must remain unbooked for ten months of the year, posing the question as to whether it is even worth bothering at all – no doubt, this is exactly what the hotel companies were hoping for.

An idiot, yesterday.

An idiot, yesterday.

Of course, it would not be the Netherlands without some idiotic Labour MP such as Mei Li Vos, who has never run a business and has spent her entire working life as a trade union hack and political hack, popping up to tell us that:

Airbnb is said to be worth $7bn and was set up by a couple of clever Americans who are getting very rich. They don’t run any risks. But the person who rents out their Amsterdam flat using Airbnb does.

Oh dear, a company making money? Because they provide a convenient way for other people to make money, attract visitors and stimulate their local economies? What a disaster!

Unfortunately, in this situation, it is clearly Mei and other rule-happy government workers who are making life difficult for normal Amsterdammers who are just trying their best to provide a good service, make some money and somehow manage to continue paying the crippling personal and property taxes that keeps Mei Li Vos and her type well-paid and free from having to do any real work.

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