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Kristof: The Economics of Thievery

Nicholas Kristof writes how the introduction of the LoJack - a hidden radio transmitter that turns on if the vehicle is stolen - has reduced crime, not only for those who purchase the device, but for all automobile owners (registration required).

The invisible device turns automobile theft into a game of Roulette - you may get lucky a few times, but miss just once and you get caught. As a result, he writes, auto theft is down 50 percent in Boston.

In the meantime, companies like PartyGaming.com openly mock American laws, while other scofflaws like Borders create legal structures either domestically or in remote tax havens to escape tax consequences.

Cities must become more creative in how they set up incentives, not just to attract businesses, but also to stop the flight of tax revenue. Today, local tax collectors spend a disproportionate amount of time tracking small to medium sized businesses, and shrug their shoulders when confronting the real culprits.


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