A New Way to Compete

by | Jul 18, 2012

There was a time when business owners competed on the basis of their products or services. They would try to be more innovative than competitors. They would develop new products, offer better service, or charge lower prices in order to win market share. Today, it appears that business owners compete to find the most creative […]

There was a time when business owners competed on the basis of their products or services. They would try to be more innovative than competitors. They would develop new products, offer better service, or charge lower prices in order to win market share. Today, it appears that business owners compete to find the most creative legal arguments.

For example, in Garrett County, Maryland, three business owners have filed suit to stop Lakeside Creamery from renting boats on Deep Creek Lake. The plaintiffs claim that the boat rental business would be detrimental to “public welfare.” If this is true, “the public” will discover that fact rather quickly and the business will go broke. But rather than allow consumers to make that choice, these businesses want to impose their judgment on the entire community.

Said one opponent to Lakeside Creamery’s plan, “You are allowing an ice cream place to become a boat rental place. I think that was totally unfair to the existing boat people. You are cutting their throats by just allowing someone to come in and rent boats.”

According to this individual, competing in a free market is akin to a street brawl. Apparently, offering a better service, or lower prices, or nicer boats is akin to cutting throats. He believes that the existing “boat people” should be protected from further competition. They were there first, and that fact “justifies” using government force to prohibit competition.

The plaintiffs in this case are no better than a common street gang. They are fighting to protect their turf. That the battle is being fought in a well-lit court room, rather than a dark alley, doesn’t change the principle.

Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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