Thursday, March 27, 2014

Undue Influence Makes Headlines ...

... as termites eat the foundation

Just a short post here: partly because it involves a current news item, partly because I'm eating lunch.

Many voters who are concerned with undue political influence have heard of or ruminate about the Koch Brothers and Organizing for Action. Coming from opposite sides of the political spectrum, each attempts to sway the public and policies.

Today CNBC reports that celebrity chef and entrepreneur Mario Batali and his partners were fined $500,000 and forced to close Italian market Eataly for six months by the New York State Liquor Authority because they were simultaneously vintners and wine retails. My guess at their crime? Bypassing the liquor wholesale distributors who didn't get their cut which ultimately raises consumer prices. Mr. Batali replied to my tweet:
The analogy with Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is that Tesla is barred by many states from selling cars directly to consumers. Instead, cars must be sold through existing automobile dealer networks which (wait for it) ultimately raises consumer prices. Columnist Neil Irwin wrote a terrific piece about the situation and economic effects.

Favoritism in the form of special business arrangements hurts consumers, business formation, and the democratic economy. Take a little time to close your ears to the cacophony at the top to feel the tremors of the eroding timbers below.