Hit & Run

John Stossel on Technology Versus 'Consumer Protection'

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This Christmas Eve, if you see a fat man in a sleigh distributing presents, tell him he is in violation of several government regulations. In real life, government barely lets people give each other rides in cars.

Will government crush innovations like ride-sharing or room-sharing businesses? asks John Stossel. Politicians keep banning them. Every week it seems The New York Times runs a hostile story along the lines of: "Councilman Jones says these new services don't follow the regulations!"

But of course they don't, writes Stossel. The regulations make it impossible to make improvements. Regulators call themselves "consumer protectors," but often their main role is to ban better options. Luckily, technology allows capitalist innovation to move fast enough that these new businesses may stay ahead of the politicians' instinct to destroy things they think of as weird or dangerous.