Rat Fighters

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The Institute for Justice is taking up the cause of a Tempe teenager who ran afoul of Arizona bureaucrats by helping his neighbors repel roof rats. Last month the Arizona Republic published a story about Christian Alf, a 17-year-old entrepreneur who was charging $30 a house to cover pipes and vents with wire mesh designed to keep unwelcome rodents out. The article prompted calls from about 250 people eager to hire Alf and his friends, plus one guy, an inspector with the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission, eager to put him out of business.

Accused of doing an exterminator's work without the proper training, license, and supervision, Alf was threatened with a $500 fine, and his days of cutting mesh appeared to be over. "It scared the pants off me," the boy's mother told Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts after her son's brush with the law.

But now Alf has found a champion at the Institute for Justice, which specializes in fighting anti-competitive regulations like this one. In a letter sent this week, I.J. attorney Timothy D. Keller asks the pest control commission to stop harassing Alf. Otherwise, he warns, "the Institute for Justice will consider filing a civil rights lawsuit for violation of Mr. Alf's economic liberty."

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  1. Let’s see if Alf can form some mesh over the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission’s office and keep those damn rats contained. He can have my $30.

  2. Maybe if Alf didn’t eat all the neighborhood cats, there wouldn’t be so many rates. Damn aliens trying to scam a buck.

    In all seriousness, on what planet is installing wire mesh over a pipe the same as being an exterminator?

  3. This is not a civil rights case. If IJ files, they will almost certainly file based on the “reasonableness” doctrine – the idea that there is no rational nexus between the licensing requirements (or their application in this case) and the public interests that they allegedly protect.

  4. The IJ are my new heroes. I even send them money. I wonder how long it will be until I’m disillusioned. In the meantime;
    Go get em you Merry Band of Litigators.

  5. “economic liberty.” Refreshing to hear those words…

  6. He’s not even doing any exterminating here! He’s not killing any rodents or bugs; ergo, he’s not exterminating. Pest control, yes, but not an “exterminator’s” work. Besides, he can always say he was covering the pipes and vents to prevent “leaves” from coming into the house.

  7. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out that local exterminators were urging bureaucrats to go after this kid.

    For every regulation there is at least one beneficiary, and sometimes that beneficiary is somebody in the private sector who gets to enjoy reduced competition.

  8. thoreau,

    Yeah, that’s it. Like most forms of licensing, this is all about market entry barriers so the licensed can charge monopoly prices.

    We’re not talking about the use of any poison here, which would require the level of expertise of Tom Delay or Dale Gribble. All the guy did was create some mechanical barriers.

  9. Economic liberty. I can’t believe somebody used those words non-mockingly. How refreshing. IJ and ACLU – my six favorite letters of the alphabet.

  10. joe: “…licensing requirements…and the public interests that they allegedly protect.”

    Kevin: “Like most forms of licensing, this is all about market entry barriers…”

    joe, I especially like the “…public interests that they *allegedly* protect..” part of your message. It meshes nicely with Kevin’s. You really do understand how things work sometimes, don’t you?

    Kevin, you are as usual on the mark about restraint of trade.

  11. Like any of you schmucks even know what a roof rat is. Little rats about the size of your hand — after living here 3 years I don’t know anyone who’s even seen one. Unlike the brown norweigian rats I’ve personally witnessed hanging out on the library steps in lovely, wealthy Friendship Heights, Maryland.

    At least in Arizona this state inspector is going to suffer a ton of public derision. Back east you just elect your pests to public office, a la Bloomberg.

    Now git off my property.

  12. Christian Alf? I thought Alf was Melmacean Orthodox?

  13. Gotta love that IJ!
    One day when I am making real money I’ll be giving what I can to that outstanding organization. Until then, I’ll post positive reviews.

  14. Let me add to the cheers for the IJ. This case is similar to numerous other cartels which the IJ has fought, which simply are using the government to keep competition out and keep prices high.

    Last year I put up some wire mesh over the dryer exhaust of my own house. Good thing I’m not living in Arizona, or I would have been arrested.

  15. http://www.ij.org/publications/liberty/2004/13_1_04_a.asp

    This is a link to another case that IJ is handling in Louisiana on the requirements for a florist license before you are allowed to arrange flowers for sale. GO IJ!!!

  16. IIRC, the legal definition of “monopoly” is “conspiracy in restraint of trade”. I think this counts.

    – Josh

  17. What I like most about IJ is that a lot of the cases are on behalf of people that left-leaning voters might side with: Small businesses run by ethnic minorities.

    No, I’m not suggesting any kind of affirmative action here. But a lot of people are skeptical of the free market and big business. These cases point out that sometimes big business is working hand-in-glove with the gov’t to stifle small business. They also point out that freer markets can benefit the ethnic minority constituencies that have tended to favor Democrats.

    Anything that broadens the appeal of libertarian ideas is fine by me.

  18. I’m a licensed Exterminator. I hold licenses in New York, Conn., and Vermont. In the old days all an Exterminator would do is Kill things. Today the focus is on prevention. The pest control method the boy was using is called “Building the pests out”. It is a small part of the new exterminators job. We now do what is call IPM Integrated Pest Management. Which focuses on removing the causes rather then just treating the problems. I do not think the kid did anything wrong by doing what he did. He has a right. If he were applying pesticides then that would be different. You need have to know what you are doing when applying chemicals. I can understand how the local exterminators feel. It was difficult to get licensed in three states, my family depends on my paycheck. I worked hard to achieve my level of expertise. I don’t think some kid putting wire around rodent entry points will be a threat to me. Any idiot can do that.

  19. EMAIL: nospam@nospampreteen-sex.info
    IP: 212.253.2.205
    URL: http://preteen-sex.info
    DATE: 05/21/2004 06:04:35
    A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.

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