“American firms cheering for protectionism in the form of tariffs on their foreign competitors should be careful what they wish for. As they say, ‘What goes around comes around.’ Case in point: The American washer and dryer manufacturer Whirlpool Corp.,” which applauded tariffs on imports of washing machines and then found its own costs of production soaring when steel and aluminum imports also came under tariffs. [Veronique de Rugy, syndicated; @SoberLook on Twitter]
“Two city legislators on Tuesday are expected to announce legislation banning on-site workplace cafeterias in an effort to promote and support local restaurants.” The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, embracing the role of villains in an Ayn Rand novel, are backing the measure, sponsored by San Francisco supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin. The bill would be prospective only, so that while the famed in-house dining options at tech headquarters like Twitter’s could continue, new corporate arrivals would not be allowed to start anything similar. [Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner]
The European Union’s new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is sometimes defended as a response to the prospect that too much data will concentrate in the hands of the biggest corporate data users. Per the WSJ, however, one of its earliest effects “is drawing advertising money toward Google’s online-ad services and away from competitors that are straining to show they’re complying with the sweeping regulation.” In particular, Google is showing a higher rate of success in gathering individuals’ consents to be marketed to. [Tyler Cowen] With bonus mention of CPSIA: “The Inevitable Lifecycle of Government Regulation Benefiting the Very Companies Whose Actions Triggered It” [Coyote]
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, 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]
- 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.”]
Some in the rice business would like to hang an FDA mislabeling rap on “cauliflower rice” — but not on “rice milk” [Chase Purdy, Quartz]
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.
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]