A Confederacy of Dunces or, Stupid Post-Katrina New Orleans Vending Rules


Josh Wexler, a New Orleans bookseller who made Reason's pages a few years back by fighting idiotic street-vending laws in the (so-called) Big Easy, has a sharp piece up at National Review Online about how the muckety-mucks down there are screwing up the recovery. A snippet:

The New Orleans city council–which oversees a city desperately in need of opportunity and services–recently passed an ordinance banning "retail sales outside of enclosed buildings" anywhere in the city, unless they are explicitly authorized by other laws.

As a longtime book vendor on the streets of New Orleans, I would like to say I was surprised by this government-issued nonsense. But doing business in the Big Easy is anything but easy for those with entrepreneurial drive….

The sweeping city-council measure, introduced by my councilwoman, Renee Gill Pratt, outlaws the very activity that has restored life to city sidewalks. The penalty for engaging in such commerce or for displays, signs or advertisements for outdoor sales? Six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Whole tale of woe here.

And Wexler's intriguing blog about "premodernist life in postapocalyptic New Orleans" here.