Some Businesses Are Inherently Public, Says Washington State Supreme Court

Some bad news from the Institute for Justice, in a press release that does not yet seem to be on their website that you can read here in its entirety:

The Washington Supreme Court today dealt a blow to civil liberties. In Ventenbergs v. City of Seattle, a divided Court decided that the city of Seattle could violate local entrepreneur Joe Ventenbergs' constitutional right to earn an honest living by creating construction waste-hauling monopolies for two multi-national corporations, making it illegal for Joe to practice his profession.

“The Court got the law wrong today and Washingtonians will suffer as a result,” said William Maurer, executive director for the Institute for Justice Washington Chapter (IJ-WA), which represents Joe Ventenbergs. “The Court ruled that our constitutional rights are less important than protecting two enormous, out-of-state corporations from competition. The sole good news from this decision, however, is that it is so narrow that it affects only hard-working entrepreneurs in the waste-hauling business and not other entrepreneurs throughout the state, who will be able to continue to rely on the protections of our state constitution to combat the creation of government monopolies.”

In a decision released this morning, the Court stated that hauling construction waste is not a private enterprise and “is in the realm belonging to the State and delegated to local governments.” The court found specifically that the provision of waste hauling service is a “government service” and constitutional protections do not apply to government-provided services.

Justice Richard Sanders, joined by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and Justice Jim Johnson, dissented, arguing that today’s decision “presents a textbook example of governmental corporate favoritism to advance the profits of the privileged few at the expense, and the extinction, of any potential competitors. It flies in the face of the state’s privileges and immunities clause which was adopted to combat this exact sort of unholy alliance between government and big business, which ultimately not only disserves the excluded businesses but also the public in general.”

IJ's page dedicated to the Ventenbergs case. with a timeline and many links.

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  • ||

    This isn't a surprise. WA is probably the least business-friendly state on the left coast. And, of course, there's this.

  • Socialism||

    I thought you "free marketeers" liked "privatization".

  • Typical Dumbass American||

    sage,

    I tried to read the article in your link, but got too distracted by the American Idol ad. Isn't Jordan Sparks just peachy?

  • ||

    Watch for the cost of construction waste hauling to go up. Ya think?

  • ||

    The court found specifically that the provision of waste hauling service is a "government service" and constitutional protections do not apply to government-provided services.

    Just think, if I went to college for 7 years and got a Law degree I'd be able to see how a private corporation hauling away waste from commercial construction sites is a "government service".

    I feel so ignorant at times like this.

  • Bingo||

    This is kind of the same as the monopolies that are granted to cable companies. Government declares the company to be the service provider for the area, and no one else is allowed to compete.

  • ||

    So, constitutional protections don't apply to education, package delivery, or defending yourself against crime since the government has all that covered? It always amazes me that people never recognize all the logical baggage to restrict freedom that follows any government benefit or service.

  • troll-keeper||

    I thought you "free marketeers" liked "privatization".

    I see we have a challenger for the lamest troll attempt award... But then again, that one is so pathetically bad that it might not even rise to the level of trolling.

    Ok, back in your cage; feeding time is over.

  • Abdul||

    constitutional right to earn an honest living

    Which penumbra of the Constitution is that in? Or was it one of the emanations?

  • robc||

    abdul,

    No emanations or penumbras needed. That is specifically stated in the 9th amendment.

  • robc||

    Then again, this is state court, so maybe the Washington Constitution uses the phrase "right to earn and honest living"?

  • Paul||

    I do know that Washington State has provisions where it is illegal to compete (read: start a business) in anything with which the state government has a monopoly. Ferry service is one of those areas. Basically, once the state determines that an "area of business" is in its "realm", the nature of that business is no longer private and therefore you can be quite simply shut down.

    Basically, all any business person can hope for is that the state doesn't get into the 'X' business, because if it does, you're done.

  • LarryA||

    This is kind of the same as the monopolies that are granted to cable companies.

    It's closer to the mass transit systems where the city (like NYC) won't allow unlicensed private jitneys or cabs.

  • Paul||

    Socialism:

    You don't know us libertarians very well, do you? We libertarians hate...haaaate privatization in the form of the "public/private" partnership. Anything where a private corporation or industry is given a monopoly status by the state runs counter to libertarian philosophy.

    And actually, the public/private partnership is really "Fascism", Socialism's meaner twin brother.

  • ||

    If hauling construction waste is a government service, why not delivering construction materials? Somehow, it seems only logical that Big Waste and government are in cahoots.

  • Fluffy||

    Which penumbra of the Constitution is that in? Or was it one of the emanations?

    Well, in Barbier v. Connally the SCOTUS held that the 14th Amendment required that any legislation concerning business licensing or operation be held to the following standard:

    "All persons engaged in the same business within it are treated alike[,] are subject to the same restrictions, and are entitled to the same privileges under similar conditions."

    This would seem to indicate that if Washington State has granted private companies a license to operate in a given business, all other potential operators who meet the same standards must be offered the same opportunity.

  • Brandybuck||

    The right to earn an honest living is indeed a right in a fullest libertarian sense. The operative word is "earn". If you sit back on your ass waiting for a government handout, you aren't earning anything. And if you do work your ass off but the market passes you by, you still haven't earned anything.

    It's like the pursuit of happiness. The right to pursue happiness and earn a living are much different things from getting happiness and a living wage from the gub'ment at the expense of others.

  • ||

    Fluffy, by "same standards" do you mean "equality of kickbacks?"

  • KipEsquire||

    @Bingo:

    Cable television is (so the rationalization goes) a natural monopoly and therefore suitable for government chartering -- coupled with rate regulation.

    I dare the State of Washington to suggest that hauling construction waste is a natural monopoly.

  • ||

    I dunno, Brandybuck. I'd be pretty happy to mooch off the public tit and ride motorcycles for the rest of my life.

  • ||

    Once again, I am wondering why this isn't a taking by Washington State that they have to give reasonable compensation for.

  • Robert||

    If hauling construction waste is a government service, why not delivering construction materials?


    Because the Mafia already has that sewn up.

  • ||

    I lawyers wonder why everyone hates them.

  • fyodor||

    Socialism,

    Evidently, you thought wrong. How 'bout that?

  • ||

    the Court stated that hauling construction waste is not a private enterprise and "is in the realm belonging to the State and delegated to local governments."

    So, does this mean its illegal to run or work for a private security firm in Washington?

  • Socialism||

    We libertarians hate...haaaate privatization in the form of the "public/private" partnership. Anything where a private corporation or industry is given a monopoly status by the state runs counter to libertarian philosophy.

    REASON head honcho Robert Poole would disagree

  • economist||

    Paul,
    Great summary of what fascism is. Whenever I hear "public-private" partnership, I say "Aw, shit!"

  • ||

    Some Washington State Judges are Inherently Retarded, Says I

  • alan||

    for that link, Socialism, you get a respectable, touché .

    Poole certainly qualifies as a libertarian, though I'm not familiar enough with his work to offer a rebuttal of why that doesn't fit the libertarian framework, or why it would count as a justifiable exception.

  • ||

    He who pays the piper...

  • Fluffy||

    The problem with Socialism's post, cite or no cite, is that this isn't a privatization issue.

    That makes his initial post a complete non sequitur.

  • ||

    I see we have a challenger for the lamest troll attempt award...

    Would that not technically be a clown and not a troll?

  • ||

    This is the same Supreme Court that regularly strikes down ballot initiatives that change Washington's constitution by removing the state's right to take your property, on the basis that they're unconstitutional, or that they impermissibly restrain the government. Never mind that the initiatives were put on the ballot exactly because they would restrain the government. It's an ultra-liberal, results-oriented court that doesn't care about the rule of law.

    Don't forget they also basically suborned vote fraud in Christine Gregoire's election victory.

  • ||

    He who pays the piper...

    You mean a bunch of democrats in a democrat state in a heavy left city is practicing cronyism and it is the fault of libertarians?

    Delusion I think is the word for you joe.

    By the way there is a candidate running for governor in the state in Washington who is running on giving small businesses equal legal footing with huge corporations.

    His name is Dino Rossi

  • ||

    http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/SmallBusiness/PRAprilSmallBusinessWeek.htm

  • ||

    Never mind that the initiatives were put on the ballot exactly because they would restrain the government. It's an ultra-liberal, results-oriented court that doesn't care about the rule of law.

    They have also constrained the power of the DOE and other state agencies and given more local control with GMA issues.

    The court as a whole is a divided one the one side being ultra left and the other believe it or not being libertarian. With a swing vote that is unpredictable. I would not go as far as you to condemn the whole court...but i would agree with you that there are some pieces of shit on that court

  • Paul||

    for that link, Socialism, you get a respectable, touché.

    Mmno.

    My guess is that Socialism wants me to defend (or ignore) the thesis of Robert Poole. I won't do either.

    I believe that while some instances of Poole's theories of privatization might work (and might have worked) they still lead to the same dreary result: A corporation that trades a real free-market competitive field in exchange for heavy regulation, monopoly status coupled with hefty government protections, guarantees, and the elimination of their competitors. I believe the left calls this "corporatization".

    Most libertarians (that I know) may have liked the idea of privatization years ago (when first reading Poole's work) because on the surface, it made sense: get our services out of government hands and into the 'efficient' private sector. What most libertarians have since discovered is that what you end up with is cronyism driven by hefty campaign donations and political connections, and a complete elimination of the competitive market surrounding said industry, leading one right back into the jaws of inefficiency. Then the "democratization" of property rights came about, a re-writing of phrases in the Constitution from "public use" to "public purpose", and privatization has a deservedly odious air about it.

    "Privatization" as a concept is not invalid altogether. But only in very specific terms and instances. Privatization should be absolute. For instance, here in Washington State, liquor stores are run by the state. If the state "privatized" it's liquor business, it would fall back into the hands of a wide open, competitive business where Safeway, Albertsons, or any smaller individual liquor stores would fill that market need. Basically, the market would grow organically.

    But when the government has a monopoly on a said thing, like say schools, and then decides to transfer said monopoly to one (1) corporation, this is hardly privatization. According to Poole's original concept it might be that, but in practice, it's not.

    Real privatization would be for the government to abandon the monopoly in schools, and then let market forces take over and fill the void.

  • ||

    You mean a bunch of democrats in a democrat state in a heavy left city is practicing cronyism and it is the fault of libertarians?

    No, dimwit, the government. What do libertarians have to do with anything?

    Reed guder, jawshoouh.

  • SIV||

    The problem with Socialism's post, cite or no cite, is that this isn't a privatization issue.

    Fluffy,

    I didn't RTFA but assumed the case was that the city privatized construction waste-hauling but then exerted sovereignty as a REASON to forbid private sector competition for the service. That sounds a lot like Poole's approach to road "privatization".
    I'm no fan of socialism but that is what both sound like.

    I believe the left calls this "corporatization".

    We call it "rent seeking" don't we?

  • ||

    Just think, if I went to college for 7 years and got a Law degree I'd be able to see how a private corporation hauling away waste from commercial construction sites is a "government service".

    Just stuff your head up your ass. It's quicker.

  • ||

    Would that not technically be a clown and not a troll?

    Since he didn't actually speak he could be construed to be a mime. I hate mimes.

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