Sunday, August 22, 2010

No More Free Speech for Philly

Got a blog in Philadelphia that maybe runs some Google ads for chump change? Then the city wants you to pay $300 for a business license. From the Philadelphia CityPaper:

For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

This blog has never earned a penny. It is a hobby for me. If I were sent a bill, I would probably do one of three things- close the blog, ignore the bill, or build coalition with every other blogger or any stripe to go on the attack against the City on 1st Amendment grounds.

Yeah, the latter. Business licensing is plain wrong, and this case illustrates it as well as any. Who is protected by running out small-time blogs? Yeah, local governments.

(h/t: Josh Gillespie)