Friday, October 26, 2007

Red Tape Injustice

Ordinary red tape is bad enough, a time consuming and expensive annoyance.

Far worse is the kind of red tape maliciously created to drive the competition out of businesses. More than an annoyance, it is a legal injustice. This kind of red tape flies in the face of everything capitalism stands for. It smells more like organized crime than laissez-faire.

Unfortunately, using red tape to limit competition is distressingly popular. In Texas, veterinarians use it to threaten unlicensed "floaters" who file down horses' teeth. In Minnesota, barbers and cosmetologists used it to threaten unlicensed hair-braiders. In several states, interior designers use it to threaten unlicensed interior designers. In every case, the groups making the threats hide their self-seeking motives under a virtuous claim of consumer protection.

Consumers rarely benefit from such schemes. Competition for business, not red tape, is the most effective consumer protection.

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