Schadenfraught in Austin: Hoisted by His Own Petard

It’s a truism that almost all government-mandated licensing and regulation is codified not for the “protection of the public.” Almost to a rule, the regulations are pushed by players in an industry to create barriers to entry and to quash competition. This is true whether you’re talking about licensing of hair stylists, interior decorators, medical professionals or whatever.

Almost every function, inspection and quality assurance could be carried out by independent, third-party inspectors — think Underwriter’s Lab. Restaurant inspections, certifications and so on — all could be carried out without the force of law and with greater efficiency. The very image of a city restaurant inspector is a fat guy on the take. Competition would keep those giving out seals of approval honest.

That’s why this case out of Austin is so Schadenfraught.

I Believe the Germans Have a Word for This

| February 11, 2011

Incumbent food truck magnate in Austin develops totally-civic-minded-and-not-at-all-protectionist “health, safety and environmental concerns” over a massive increase in the number trucks that have sprung up to compete with him . . .

. . . demands city council pass stricter regulations of his own industry . . .

. . . now faces a bureaucratic nightmare as his own fleet of trucks can’t pass the regulations he insisted were necessary to protect the public.


  1. Phil says:

    You need to stay away from those stereotypes and so-called ‘truisms’ (that you’re so confident in) and quit believing that everyone who is in industry is honest. Do you think the public is going to trust a private entity to report on food health services or to properly inspect your plumbing work? It just takes one of THOSE guys on the take (once you find them…IF you find them) and you’ll have new regulations to monitor the regulators. Where’s the efficiency in that? There are reasons regulations start and it’s not to quash competition – it’s because the industry couldn’t regulate itself and someone got hurt. People like to know that a neutral party – themselves – are represented. Not some fat cat chatting around the back rooms with client inspectees.

    If someone benefits financially, that’s to their benefit. Free market and all that. If they shoot themselves in the foot for advocating further controls, too bad. We’re safer because he was running a crooked operation anyway.

    I trust people in industry even less than I trust regulators in government. If chaos you like, take it up elsewhere.

  2. Underwriter’s Lab has a far better track record than any city inspection department. They’re independent and they don’t have the same motive to be on the take.

  3. PeterK says:

    It’s much like the fact that private security firms at 16 airports have done a better job than has TSA.
    a government inspector has not real incentive to do a good job. The private has an incentive. if they don’t accurately inspect a restaurant and someone gets sick then they can be sued. and be out of business toot suite

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how many prescription medicines you’d take if you knew there was no regulation of drug manufacturing? Or how much water you’d drink if no one tested it first? Or how much food you would eat if no one inspected it?

    Phil’s right. Stick to something you know something about, like guns and booze.

  5. Mother Nature's Bastard Son says:

    Right, Trey. And UL by no means benefits from gummint labeling: