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Even when regulators mean well -- when they worry about safety or whether customers get basic services -- regulations are based on the old, familiar ways of doing things, simply because regulators don’t know anything else. That’s great for old, familiar firms -- but bad for the innovative startup that wants to try something different. And bad for consumers who might have benefitted.
The new idea might be a bad one, but if it is, it will die on its own. Market competition will kill it.
But the new idea might be the next Microsoft. Or Roomorama. Or Lyft, a ride-sharing app that helps people find cars without having to use (heavily regulated) local taxi cartels. Like a Roomorama for cars, Lyft lets most any car owner give people rides. It, too, faces regulatory opposition.
Regulators always say they must protect the “little guy.” But it’s the little guys who are most hurt by these rules.
Something can always go wrong -- with businesses new or old. But unless we allow innovators and their customers to try new things, we’ll be stuck in the past.
Then the fat cats win, not the little guy.