The Constitution’s Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce. What does that mean, exactly? Over at the Daily Caller, my colleague Jacque Otto and I explain that regulation is about making commerce regular: no barriers to entry or trade, clear, understandable, and consistent rules, and so on.
Most of what people call regulation doesn’t have anything to with regular commerce. These kinds of rules are more accurately called interventions.
These interventions didn’t appear out of thin air, either:
One important reason regulators intervene is that many businesses want them to — businesses spend considerable effort and resources lobbying Washington to that end. For the most part, American companies compete on quality, price, or other consumer preferences. But on too many occasions, some companies try to use regulatory interventions to dispatch the competition. Sprint’s efforts to squander AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile are emblematic of this troubling trend.
Lessons abound for antitrust regulators — sorry, interveners.
Posted in Antitrust, Economics, regulation
Tagged Antitrust, at&t merger, at&t t-mobile merger, commerce clause, constitution, interveners, intervention, irregular commerce, regular commerce, regulation, regulators, sprint
Mike Haege owns a tree-trimming business in Hastings, Minnesota. After a tornado hit northern Minneapolis, he decided to help out. On May 23, the day after the tornado, he signed up as a volunteer and brought some equipment to help people without insurance to dig out from the damage. Mike and his fellow volunteers removed fallen or damaged trees from driveways and doorways, all free of charge. He probably made a lot of friends that day.
Regulators were not among them. While he is licensed to work in many Minneapolis-area cities, he isn’t licensed in Minneapolis proper. So they kicked him out of the city. The Hastings Star Gazette reports:
The inspector told him to get out of the city, so Haege left with the volunteer. As they were on their way back to the volunteer area, residents waved down Haege, pleading for help. He pulled over and helped get a tree out of the way for them.
Haege had no idea police officers were behind him in a sort of unofficial escort out of town. He said they stopped traffic for about two hours while they figured out what to do with him. At one point, officers threatened to throw him in jail, he said.
All the while, residents continued defending him, screaming in his defense.
Officers told him to leave. They told him he was going to receive a “hefty fine” in the mail, and that if he stopped on the way out, the fine would be doubled.
True to their word, Mike later received a $275 fine in the mail.
Posted in Regulation of the Day
Tagged dumb regulations, hastings minnesota, mike haege, minneapolis, minneapolis tornado, minnesota, outrages, punishing good deeds, regulators, tornado victims, tree-trimmers, unlicensed tree-trimmers, volunteering
Britons sure do seem to have a lot of time on their hands. Take, for example, the colorfully-named pastime of dwile flonking. Players soak a rag in beer and put it on top of a pole. Then they use the pole to hurl the rag at other players.
A player who misses twice in a row is called a “flonker.” Flonkers are required to drink a beer before the opposing team can pass the errant rag all the way around him in a circle.
This year’s dwile flonking world championship was to be held in Norfolk. Then regulators got involved. As one can tell by the rules, dwile flonking is a drinking game. And drinking games are forbidden now. Legislation passed earlier this year banning them.
The American journalist H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” He may as well have been talking about regulators.
And thanks to the new Puritanism, we may never know who the world’s top dwile flonkers are.
Posted in Regulation of the Day
Tagged beer, britain, britons, drinking games, dwile flonking, h.l. mencken, mencken, Nanny State, nanny state regulation, regulators, uk