Posts Tagged ‘competition through regulation’

“The beer that had to unprotect itself”

Protected geographical designation laws, which prevent the sale in some countries of articles like Champagne or Gouda cheese unless produced in the indicated locality, are sometimes defended as advancing consumers’ interest in fraud prevention or accuracy in labeling; it is also suspected that they can serve to curtail competition and protect incumbents even when no genuinely distinctive local contributions are at issue of soil, technique, etc. In 2000, Newcastle Breweries and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, obtained a designation on Newcastle Brown Ale, a popular product dating back to 1927, to prevent it from being sold unless manufactured in the city. That didn’t work out so well when the brewery moved to nearby Gateshead four years later. Dan Lewis, Now I Know:

EU regulators took notice and weren’t as forgiving as the brewers would have hoped. The owners of the Newcastle Brown Ale brand had two obvious choices: move back across the Tyne or change the name of the product. Neither was a good option, so the brewery decided to do something new: they applied to have the registration canceled. And as seen in this pdf, they were successful. In August 2007, the EU revoked Newcastle Brown Ale’s PGI status, allowing it to be made across the river — or anywhere else.

Today, Newcastle Brown Ale is made in neither Newcastle nor Gateshead. Heineken, which bought the Newcastle’s brewers in 2008, has since relocated operations to Amsterdam.

Wisconsin’s butter-grading scheme

Wisconsin, where dairy producers hold great political sway, maintains a uniquely onerous scheme of butter grading that “has nothing to do with public health or nutrition” but does serve to restrict the sale of butter made in other states, including high-end artisanal butter. Representing Ohio’s Minerva Dairy, the Pacific Legal Foundation has sued to overturn the regulation on Commerce Clause, Due Process, and Equal Protection theories, and Cato has now filed a pun-strewn amicus supporting the due process and equal protection claims [Ilya Shapiro and Matt Larosiere]

June 14 roundup

  • Teens in Gardendale, Ala. need a business license to cut grass and it’ll cost a cool $110; it was grown-up lawn servicer who threatened to call town if he saw teen cutting a lawn again [WBMA, UPI]
  • “It Isn’t Just Hamburger Stands That Will Be Shut Down By ADA Lawsuit Filers. My Website And Countless Others Could Be” [Amy Alkon, related Mark Pulliam, L.A. Times, more on web accessibility]
  • Ten years later, recalling when Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers filed a lawsuit against God [Atlas Obscura, our coverage]
  • 15% of Mumbai’s housing stock lies vacant, and 12% of India’s. Blame state housing mistakes and regulation of tenancy [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “The Progressives Took Away Our Right to Contract. It’s Time to Reclaim It” [Iain Murray, FEE]
  • “In that version, she didn’t do anything wrong — it was the other sexy cop who demanded money.” [Lowering the Bar on Ninth Circuit decision in Santopietro v. Howell, which breaks new ground as the first reported decision to use the phrase “sexy cop.”]

Progressive politicos helped hotel industry as it schemed to strangle AirBnB

At the New York Times, Katie Benner investigates documents from the hotel industry’s intensive efforts to use government regulation to derail competition from AirBnB, which focused especially on cultivating “alliances with politicians, affordable housing groups and neighborhood associations” as well as hotel unions:

The association also sought help from politicians in Washington. In its documents, the group said it had worked with Senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Dianne Feinstein of California. The three Democrats sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in July “raising concerns about the short-term rental industry,” one of the hotel association documents said.

More: Eric Boehm, Reason.

“Points For Honesty: Pool Contractors Want to be Licensed so They Can Charge Higher Prices”

Sometimes the cartel-like effects of occupational and professional licensure are concealed by a sparkling reflective surface of consumer welfare talk. But sometimes, as in the case of remarks by the executive director of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association to a trade publication about a New Jersey proposal, you can spot them floating right there on the surface: “Frankly, we’re looking for a more professional industry — and you can raise the rates you’re charging because you’re … a (properly) licensed pool builder or service professional.” [Eric Boehm, Reason]

Related: “Hotel CEO openly celebrates higher prices after anti-Airbnb law passes” in New York City [Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post] More: “Hotel Workers’ Union Gave $100K to Management’s Fight Against Airbnb” [Eric Boehm]

June 22 roundup

  • Funny how the government sometimes regards our time as necessarily worth $15 an hour or more, and other times as worth far less [Coyote]
  • “Trademark lawsuit over LARP archery gets thrown out of court” for lack of personal jurisdiction [Joe Mullin/ArsTechnica, earlier here, etc.]
  • A sucker deal? Consumer class action alleges substitution of squid for canned octopus [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]
  • Those who knowingly send texts that distract drivers could face liability in Pennsylvania [ABA Journal]
  • Zach Graves, “Optometrists Push For State Laws Blocking Online Eye Exams” [TechDirt]
  • D.C. Circuit upholds net neutrality regulations in a “majority opinion…dripping with agency deference.” [Daniel Lyons, Jonathan Adler, Michael Greve]