A Tale of Regulation

At the request of one of my fans, I have spent a few minutes to list some preliminary thoughts on the following pro-regulation story Libertarians Are Dumb – Why We Eat Heinz Ketchup.

According to the proponents of regulation, more than 100 years ago, only Heinz used fresh tomatoes in their ketchup, and all others regularly used moldy tomatoes, which supposedly made their customers sick. According to legend, Heinz advertised their exclusive use of fresh tomatoes, and their competitors did not make the same claim, and yet most customers chose to buy the ketchup that made them sick rather than buying Heinz or simply buying no ketchup at all. Therefore, Heinz felt justified in lobbying the government to enact legislation that would benefit Heinz and harm their competitors, which gave Heinz a virtual monopoly over the ketchup market.

Even if we accept all of the pro-regulation version of the story, it makes several incriminating claims.

  1. Heinz used the government rather than fair competition to beat their competitors, and thus Heinz was a cheater.
  2. The government reduced competition and created a monopoly in the ketchup market.
  3. The people preferred other ketchup, but were basically forced to buy Heinz.
  4. The title, “Libertarians are Dumb”, is mean, petty, and biased.
  5. The article claims that the government had to act because the people were basically too stupid to buy the “safer product”.

Now, let’s take a common sense look at some questions any reader should be asking about the pro-regulation version of the story: (I cannot overstate the importance of thinking for yourself.)

  1. Is it likely that people would buy ketchup that made them sick when they had the choice to buy Heinz or no ketchup at all?
  2. Wouldn’t the other ketchups have been cheaper?
  3. If a product makes you sick, then can’t you take the manufacturer to court?
  4. If a product makes you sick, then can’t you go to the media?
  5. If a company makes a false claim, then can’t you take them to court?
  6. Couldn’t a business just bribe legislators to pass a law specifically designed to hurt their competitors?
  7. Where does the Constitution grant Congress the power to prevent Americans from buying any food they choose?
  8. Given the Internet and television, isn’t regulation even less relevant than in 1906?
  9. Don’t the people have a right to eat what they want?
  10. Don’t the people have a right to be wrong?

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