Bottleneckers are killing the American Dream

In America—the Land of Opportunity—the freedom to start your own business is being taken away. By whom? In a word:  Bottleneckers.

A “bottlenecker” is anyone who uses government power to limit competition therebybottleneckers-book reaping monopoly profits and other benefits. As documented in the Institute for Justice’s new book, Bottleneckers, these private special interests work with politicians to constrict competition, entrepreneurial innovation, and opportunity; they limit consumer choice; they drive up consumer prices; and they support politicians who willingly overstep the constitutional limits on their powers to create, maintain and expand these anticompetitive bottlenecks.

And they are killing the American Dream for countless individuals who merely want to create jobs for themselves and others—job creation the government should encourage, not stop in order to protect private interests.

“Just ask funeral-home and cemetery owner Kim Powers Bridges from Knoxville, Tenn., who battled bureaucrats in her home state of Oklahoma, where she wanted to sell caskets online,” said Bottleneckers coauthor Chip Mellor. “Unsuccessful in that legal fight because of bottleneckers, she moved to Tennessee, where she built a brick-and-mortar business, and now she has holdings in states from the Gulf Coast to New Mexico and Colorado. As is so often the case, one economically restrictive state’s loss is the gain of another state that has created a more hospitable climate for entrepreneurs. This is the kind of dedicated entrepreneur states like Oklahoma lose out on gaining when they block would-be entrepreneurs for no reason other than to protect existing businesses from competition.”

Bottleneckers spotlights abuses of government power that limit competition in one trade after another:

  • Alcohol Distributors
  • Casket Sellers
  • African Hair Braiders
  • Interior Designers
  • Tour Guides
  • Taxi and Limousine Drivers
  • Street Vendors, and
  • Those who speak for a living.

How widespread are these abusive licensing requirements imposed by bottleneckers and their political allies?  They are found in every state.

“In the 1950s only about one in 20 workers in the United States needed a government-issued license to work,” said Bottleneckers coauthor Dick Carpenter. “Today it’s about one in four. Most people know physicians and attorneys must be licensed, but licensing is also becoming increasingly common for lower-wage occupations, such as cosmetologists, auctioneers, hair shampooers and interior designers.”

Carpenter continued: “Research shows that licensing rarely results in increased protection for consumers and the public, but it comes with significant costs in the form of higher prices to consumers, fewer job opportunities, reduced interstate migration, and obstructions to innovation. This is because licenses are created not out of a need to protect public health and safety or consumer welfare, but out of a desire to create bottlenecks to keep out competition.”

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