Food Trucks

What's Worse: Banning Food Trucks or Subsidizing Them?

In Michigan, they manage to do both

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So is the government our friend or enemy today?
Credit: ricardodiaz11 / Foter / CC BY

Cities haven't been trying to regulate food trucks out of existence because they're terribly unpopular, except with nearby restaurant owners. So the discovery that Michigan is actually subsidizing food trucks is a bit of a head-scratcher. But the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced this summer it's handing out more than $75,000 to eight food truck start-ups because it's a booming business. And if there's anything that needs a government subsidy, it's a business that's already in high demand.

No, it makes no sense, though part of their development corporation's press release gives a subtle hint as to why it picked out certain trucks: "Projects for consideration were those that offer easily accessible and unique food options to patrons in public spaces and contribute to the local economy by working with other local businesses and farms." Emphasis added.

Michigan Capitol Confidential – the blog of the Michigan free-market think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy – made note of the subsidies, and the distortions it may have on the market:

"The government shouldn't give grants to promote any business," said Mike Berschback, who co-owns the Green Zebra Truck, which operates in the Troy area. "[And] they certainly shouldn't pick individual winners and losers. If one's food truck is a viable business they shouldn't need assistance from the government, and if they do need it to survive then they won't be in operation long."

The blog goes on to point out the additional absurdity of subsidizing food trucks in a state where many cities are still waging a war against them. The Mackinac Center brought us the story last year of a 13-year-old in Holland, Mich., having his hot dog stand shut down by city zoning officials. One of the grant-winning trucks is based in Kalamazoo, which Mackinac noted "hands out only 10 licenses per year and prevents vendors from selling within 150 feet of a restaurant."

Below, the Mackinac Center's video about the travails of Holland teen Nathan Duszynski from last year. The boy was eventually granted a special permit to continue operating the stand after the story made national news:

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20 responses to “What's Worse: Banning Food Trucks or Subsidizing Them?

  1. I don’t like your first sentence, Shackford. And it sounds like some favored Michigan son is looking to get into the food truck business.

  2. What’s Worse: Banning Food Trucks or Subsidizing Them?

    Yes.

    1. They should pay people to not have food trucks. Like they do with farming.

  3. Libertarianism is a simple binary in most cases. “Worse” doesn’t really exist. Bans and subsidies are both the worst thing ever.

  4. “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

    –Ronald Reagan

    1. me like

  5. Food truck medallions coming to a cosmotopia near you.

  6. Local bureaucrats playing market is so cute. My favorite is how they always piss away other people’s hard-earned money.

  7. They can subsidize the local organic trucks all they want, but the bacon-wrapped hot dog truck is still going to win.

    1. Not if they’re denied a license.

      1. Black market bacon-wrapped dogs.

        Some guy in NY (I think) built a thriving business on black-market lobster sandwiches, after all. And if you can do black-market chow in Bloombergs totalitarian hell-hole of a city, you can do it anywhere.

        1. Could you provide the location of this black market lobster joint? I’d like to try it.

          1. Its a little old but I believe this is what R C Dean is referring to:
            https://reason.com/archives/201…..erground/1

          2. There is no “location”. You have to know a guy who knows a guy. Then you will be contacted with details of the drop. Come alone.

            Seriously, that is how it actually functioned. Maybe not the “Come alone” part though. But the guy does prefer that you don’t bring any city regulators with you.

  8. Great, thanks government. Way to make me distrustful of food trucks.

    But I guess that’s just it, isn’t it. Provide a check to everyone until there are no libertarians left. Clever when you think about it.

    1. they don’t sit up at night worrying about libertarians or conspiring against us. they don’t need evidence, rational arguments or decent reasoning skills to to defeat libertarianism in a public debate.

      they just appeal to the lowest common denominator with political handouts and logical fallacies. All libertarians can do is survive as an ideology until the power-worshiping faithful hang themselves.

      1. People with power don’t worry about libertarians because while libertarians would like to take their power away, they will never do it. They will never do it because to take that power away would require power, and since libertarians aren’t generally the kind of people who seek power, they will never attain it.

        1. People with power don’t worry about libertarians because while libertarians would like to take their power away, they will never do it. They will never do it because to take that power away would require power, and since libertarians aren’t generally the kind of people who seek power, they will never attain it.

          That’s part of the crux. I don’t want power. I simply want to be interfered with as little as fucking possible. Stay out of my personal life, stay out of my economic life, protect my rights. It’s very simple.

  9. Wait, a food truck thread that didn’t go Tulpical? I am disappoint.

  10. this is why the american dream is dead. Once upon a time anyone could go into business for themselves without really even trying. Now it’s easier to just sell pot to yuppie suburban kids than to try to go into any business legally.

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