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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In the U.S. restaurant industry, tips have won. Everybody would benefit if they went away, but there's a collective action problem. So long as most restaurants collect tips, those restaurants' prices seem lower, and service-included rivals find it impossible to compete.

Ticket pricing, it turns out, works the same way. Everybody hates the "service" and "fulfillment" and other fees that get tacked on to ticket prices, but no one can afford to be the first mover.

"This is a textbook place where a regulator could make a big difference,” MIT’s Sara Fisher Ellison chimed in, suggesting the FTC just mandate that all ticket sellers use the same up-front all-in pricing so that no one company would be taking the risk of seeming more expensive than the others in Google search results. Essentially every person on the panel agreed, appearing to politely beg the FTC to regulate them.
— "How ticket fees got so bad, and why they won't get any better," by Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox

If it wanted to, the FTC could solve this collective action problem. But it doesn't seem so inclined — even as the industry itself is begging it to do so.

Go deeper: Yes, some companies actually want to be regulated

Go deeper

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.