Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sing a Song of Six Picks

Do citizens have a "right" to many competitive products and services?

Christina Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute popped up in my Twitter feed yesterday:
The tweet referred to an article in the Texas Tribune in which Governor Greg Abbott proposed a "broad-based ban on regulations at the local level unless and until certain standards are met." The article continued:
As an example, Abbott pointed to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which have chosen not to operate in some Texas cities — including Austin — due to disagreements over local regulations. Abbott asked his audience Monday to imagine all the local jurisdictions an Uber driver may have to navigate through in North Texas after picking up a passenger at Meacham International Airport.

"Which city is going to govern the hail-riding car that you’re in?" Abbott asked. "Is it going to change every time you cross city lines? Is it going to be where you start, you end and every place in between? The answer is: Who knows? The answer is it gets very complicated for a company doing businesses to know which rules and regulations they have to comply with."
Going back to Ms. Sandefur's tweet: Does "liberty" include a right for citizens to have the choice between competitive products and services? Has Texas (or any other state) stepped in where local governments have constrained competition?

Governor Abbott's example of Uber is a fine one, but what of Airbnb? And cable and internet competition? Of restrictive zoning that limits housing construction to the benefit of existing owners? Or of gerrymandered political districts and constraints and requirements on minor parties and independents? (Sorry – I went a little crazy on that last one.)

The current tenor of the federal government is an aria of states' rights and industrial concentration, and the states seems to be picking up the harmony. Local government is notorious for protecting local business interests to the detriment of local consumers.

Is Governor Abbott interested in consumers and competitive markets or just imposing state control over the locals? So far the only stanza I've heard is, "I fought the law and the law won".

Thursday, March 16, 2017