Monday, October 24, 2005


Glenn Reynolds has a good commentary at Tech Central Station
on how Congress should "exempt Internet businesses from intrusive state and local regulation." Great example of the how North Dakota is thinking about requiring people who sell on eBay to obtain an auctioneer's license. These applicants "would pay a $35 fee, obtain a $5,000 surety bond and undergo training at one of eight approved auction schools, where the curriculum includes talking really fast."

Seriously stupid people in our nation. Actually, there are stupid people in every nation, but it's just easiest to point out those in your own backyard.

It's easy to make fun of this kind of thing, and people are. One blogger observes: "Soon enough, governments will force these guys to wear a suit and tie in front of their personal computers."

But even though North Dakota's proposal is being targeted for mockery, it's also being targeted for emulation, as quite a few other states are considering similar proposals. This seems like a dreadful idea to me.

The Internet has done very well as a venue for commerce and small business, in no small part because Internet entrepreneurs have been free -- either de jure or de facto -- from a lot of the dumb laws and regulations that afflict small businesses in general. You'd think that people would take the lesson, and reduce the regulations afflicting concerns that do business off the Internet. Instead, I fear, we'll see a lot more proposals like this one, aimed at bringing the Internet under bureaucratic, guild, and trade-union control.

North Dakota's law may be dumb, but it protects existing auctioneers, auction schools, and auction-regulating bureaucrats, or at least they probably hope it will, and that's the usual agenda of state trade-regulation laws. (My own state had a law forbidding anyone but a licensed mortician from selling caskets, until a federal court struck it down in response to an Institute for Justice lawsuit. The law was ostensibly about consumer protection, but it was really about letting morticians charge enormous markups without fear of competition.)
(full commentary)

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