Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Time to Deregulate: Americans Should Be Able to Sell Stuff Without Permission from Government

From Conor Friedersdorf, associate editor at The Atlantic:

"The normal mindset among U.S. officials is that prior permission should be required to sell legal goods to a willing buyer. Kids selling lemonade on the street are shut down. A Missouri man has been fined $90,000 for selling rabbits (he made about $200). In Illinois, an artisan ice cream maker is being shut down for lack of a dairy permit. Manuel Winn was arrested, handcuffed, and booked for selling magazines door-to-door without a permit. A Maryland mother of three was arrested for selling $2 phone cards without a license. Lots of municipalities are going after food trucks. A group of Louisiana monks had to go to court to win the right to sell simple wooden caskets to consumers.

If you read enough of these stories, you'll see the targeted entrepreneurs say the same thing again and again: I just had a good idea and started a business. It never occurred to me that I needed permission. And, of course, other would-be entrepreneurs don't ever get started because they're too intimidated to assess and grapple with the bureaucratic hurdles. Or else the regulations are written in a way that excludes from commerce folks who are operating at a very small scale

These needless, onerous regulations would be objectionable at any time. But they're particularly problematic when many Americans find themselves unemployed, needful of income, and thrust into the position of doing what they can to get by. That may mean a series of garage sales, or selling fruit from a backyard tree, or making a craft to offer for sale on the street, or going door-to-door offering handyman skills, or any number of other informal businesses. We're making things harder on the least advantaged among us, and some are forced to take more social welfare because laws prevent them from making a living on their own.

This isn't a jeremiad against all government regulation. Should commercial airline pilots be required to have a license? Sure. Are zoning restrictions sometimes legitimate? Of course. But is society really going to suffer if lemonade vendors, casket makers and purveyors of $2 phone cards sell their wares without permission? The default should be that free citizens can engage in commerce with one another, sans any prior restraint by federal, state, or local governments. It's time to deregulate."   

12 Comments:

At 8/31/2011 7:50 AM, Blogger The High Priest said...

My only issue is your choice of the word "some." It's time for complete deregulation of the economy.

 
At 8/31/2011 7:57 AM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

Great Post. I think Rick Perry probably has the best theme for a campaign for 2012. His theme is that we need less taxation, litigation and regulation. Most Americans believe the best thing the governmet can do to help the economy is to get out of the way. Your post is Exhibit A.

 
At 8/31/2011 8:06 AM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

Dear Francis Scott Key,

To answer your question at the end of the first stanza... no. No, it doesn't.

 
At 8/31/2011 8:22 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

No way. Deregulation strips politicians of power.

Much better to just print more money. Have you seen the stock market since everyone has decided the probability of more money printing is nearly 100%? Good news is good and bad news is even better. "Proof" that all is well and businesses are just not investing to screw Obama.

 
At 8/31/2011 8:28 AM, Blogger Colin said...

The link to the Atlantic piece is busted.

 
At 8/31/2011 8:48 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Thanks, the link is fixed now.

 
At 8/31/2011 9:25 AM, Blogger Bob Apjok said...

My only problem is the statement about licensing pilots, for instance. Not sure why we even need that or any other government license. The private sector and the market would take care of that much better.

 
At 8/31/2011 11:33 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Carpe Diem readers are slowly discovering a truth: It is local and state government that are the most repressive.

Add on: It gets much worse than these trivial cases. Think about: Why are lawyers licenses? They want to be. And why? To keep out competition from the trade and keep a monopoly on the craft.

Why is liquor distribution state regulated? The industry wants it.

Who benefits from any regulation or local control of zoning regulations? Local industry, that has local government doing its bidding.

This is the sad story of "states rights," or "local control."

It means, "We want to get away with commercial murder, stifling competition, using tax dollars for private development and preventing people from voting who we don't want to vote."

Don't you dare to become a push-cart vendor in any city in America. The cops will pull you over, ask to see a license, and likely impound your cart.

 
At 9/01/2011 3:33 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

The comments on the Atlantic piece are sad. "I NEED government to protect me!"

 
At 9/05/2011 7:17 PM, Blogger Momnme said...

Fantastic, well presented argument which I couldn't have said myself. It's horrific how the government has so much red tape bs tied up. Your examples underscored the smaller organizations who aren't eligible for bailout with tax dollars and we failing to hand our people stock certificates.

 
At 9/05/2011 7:21 PM, Blogger Momnme said...

Fantastic and well presented. I'm sickened by governments red tape, ability to give large amounts to corporations of our tax dollars without issuing tax payer stock so go on and sell what you can or provide what you need to until the government wakes up. It's never republicans vs democrats that is important but how the operations are. Too many concentrate on beating down the party as opposed to issues.

 
At 9/06/2011 3:05 AM, Blogger Ian Random said...

My big thing is that disclosure means more than licensure. An example would be door to door salesmen, as long as the address is valid on your business receipt or card, you can sell stuff. Any store would have a defacto license as longs as they have a store. It would be a great informed consent for food, since mysteriously the food handling and inspections don't prevent food poisoning or that Fox show. You could require restaurants to disclose if they are inspected or not and let the public decide if it is worth it.

I think there is some sort of role for medical stuff, but requiring RN's to be a 4 year degree soon when the last 2 years is multicultural garbage is too much.

 

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