An interesting story about the way regulation is used to protect incumbent businesses and suppress competition.
In New York City, the number of food-cart vending permits is capped by the city’s administrative code:
And you cannot get one. The waiting list is even closed. But it was 10 or 15 years’ wait. It’s impossible to get a food vending permit from the city.…If you want to get a permit for your cart or truck, you cannot do it.
In Washington DC, regulations applicable to food vendors are much more liberal (with “liberal” being used here in the older sense of the term)…local restaurant owners, predictably, are often very resentful of this situation. The article cites a Domino’s Pizza manager who:
..can’t hide his contempt for the lobster truck parked in a metered space in front of his store in September. “Of course it’s hurting, because it’s right in front of your store,” Basha says. He points to a line of about 30 customers waiting to buy lobster rolls. “Most of those customers were ours.
A true free market, in which incumbent businesses must compete with aggressive newcomers, is stressful for the incumbents. A growing thicket of regulations can help shield them from this necessity, while ensuring that individuals without extensive capital or credentials are excluded from economic success.