By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
Our government is no longer for governing. At the federal, state and local level, it has become a tool to accomplish what cannot be done in the free market or what the voters will not support.
The Transportation Bill contained a small section that will, effectively, put roll-your-own cigarette shops out of business across the United States. The name-brand cigarette manufacturers, seeing competition for their products, appealed to the money-grubbing politicians claiming the change in law would collect more taxes for them. They used the term “loophole” just to make sure it sounded better and like something that needed to be fixed, though at the time the original tax code was written, there were no such stores, so no loophole.
In fact, the stores were a creative, entrepreneurial response to existing taxes and the existing market, along with customer demand. Exactly the kind of creativity and risk-taking this country was predicated upon and what has made us the world leader in innovation.
But tobacco companies didn’t like the new competition, or the better idea, or even the independence of people no longer stuck with only limited options. So instead of responding to the changed market, they use government like a bully to force the competitors out of business.
It’s not just for the taxes. Sometimes it’s for our own protection — like with the recently required duct cleaning license requirements, which are supposed to help consumers know they’re dealing with “reputable companies.”
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association didn’t like that some companies it thought of as “fly-by-night” were giving its industry a bad name. As an association, it could have decided to implement its own national licensing program and start an ad campaign to promote its ethical business practices. But why do that when you can use an elected official to put the force of law behind the same approach, especially if you can sell it as generating additional revenue for the state?
So Ohio now has a law that requires people who want to clean air ducts in the state, regardless of where their company is located, to incur the additional costs of obtaining a license and then complying with all the requirements of publicizing that license number. Oh — and not having the license number on every document they produce and their vehicle will put them in violation, as the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-District 3, said, “immediately as opposed to trying to catch them in the act, which is much more difficult.”
All this is in spite of the fact that recent law enforcement actions proved the bill was unnecessary in terms of enforcing Ohio’s consumer protection laws.
Again, a group of businesses got together to use the force of government to hamper and restrict their competition.
Lest you think this is all about big corporations, understand that this is a pattern of behavior used by just about every group out there. Unions have long used the force of law to prevent employees from having the freedom of choosing not to join a union. Is there is a single public employer in the state who does not require employees to support the union — through voluntary dues or forced “fair share” fees — regardless of the employee’s choice?
Nonprofits use government all the time. Community development groups, homeless and domestic violence shelters, art groups, environmental groups, and a host of others all receive public dollars for various purposes and, when those funds are threatened due to the negative financial situation of the local, state or federal government, they and their supporters show up in droves to demand no cuts. They use their government funded resources to demand more government resources. They push for laws and regulations that advance their own point of view, internal goals or objectives. And if there is funding to implement or monitor such laws and regulations, all the better because they are in the perfect position to receive it.
We no longer have the consent of the governed. We have a symbiotic relationship between the rule makers and certain beneficiaries of the rules. “We the people” are no longer in the equation, except as the hapless rubes footing the bill.