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Little disagreement exists on the need for the government to regulate products for consumer safety. However, when does regulation stop protecting the consumer and begin harming innovation and entrepreneurship? At an AEI event on Wednesday, panelists argued for balance in the regulatory code based on the negative experiences of many business owners across America.
Rachel Holt, a representative of Uber Inc., discussed Uber's driver base, which is predominately drawn from lower-middle-class households. Holt argued that unnecessary regulation has threatened to put the company's drivers out of work. Next, Randall Hertzler presented his experience selling handmade toys supplied by artisans that craft small numbers of each toy. He recounted the excessive cost to the manufacturers from product safety laws, costs that are shouldered more easily by large-scale manufacturers.
Dana Berliner from the Institute for Justice pointed out that many of these issues are tied to the fact that the court system is inactive on them, refusing to limit legislation aimed at discouraging competition. Finally, Matt Yglesias of Slate pointed out that some pro-competitive policies do in fact favor larger businesses at the expense of their smaller competitors. He concluded that the US political landscape would change in favor of more competition if the social safety net were larger and more reliable, encouraging risk taking and entrepreneurship.
What do artisan toymakers, African American hair braiders, and smartphone-based limousine services have in common? They have all been victims of collusion between big business and big government. For example, DC politicians tried to outlaw Uber, an alternative to taxis, and Mattel supported toy-safety rules that threatened to eliminate mom-and-pop competitors.
"Consumer protection" regulation often protects large incumbent businesses from competition more than it protects consumers from harm. Such anticompetitive regulation kills entrepreneurship, robs consumers of choice, and fosters corruption and cronyism.
Please join us for a discussion of regulation, entrepreneurship, competition, and political influence.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Registration and Lunch
Dana Berliner, Institute for Justice
Randall Hertzler, Handmade Toy Alliance
Rachel Holt, Uber Inc.
Matthew Yglesias, Slate
Timothy P. Carney, AEI
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Dana Berliner serves as litigation director at the Institute for Justice (IJ), where she has worked as a lawyer since 1994. She litigates property rights, economic liberty, and other constitutional cases in both federal and state courts. She has represented home and business owners throughout the country fighting eminent domain, and has been recognized as a “Best Lawyer” in eminent domain and condemnation law by Best Lawyers in America since 2008. On issues of economic liberty, Berliner has secured many victories, including successfully representing an aspiring teacher of African hair braiding and two of her students in Mississippi, which challenged restrictions on learning and teaching African hair braiding in that state. She authored reports on barriers to entrepreneurship in Boston and Detroit and supervised IJ’s 2010 release of studies on barriers to entrepreneurship in eight different cities. Her ideas have been quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and The Washington Post as well as on various radio and television broadcasts, including 60 Minutes.
Timothy P. Carney helps direct AEI’s Culture of Competition Project, which examines barriers to competition in all areas of American life, from the economy to the world of ideas. Carney has over a decade of experience as a journalist covering the intersection of politics and economics. His work at AEI focuses on how to reinvigorate a competitive culture in America in which all can reap the benefits of a fair economy. Carney is the author of two books: “The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money” (John Wiley & Sons, 2006) and “Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses” (Regnery Publishing, 2009).
Randall Hertzler is the vice president for the board of directors of the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA). Hertzler joined the board of directors in 2009 and has served as vice president since 2010. He lobbies for and represents the HTA on Capitol Hill and at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He is the owner of euroSource LLC, a family business that formerly imported and retailed specialty small-batch European toys. Established in 1999, euroSource was a professional outlet for a new stay-at-home dad that grew to include his children, who are now teenagers. Hertzler is also the owner of BigWindow LLC, which provides information technology services including managed cloud applications.
Rachel Holt is a general manager at Uber Technologies, a technology application that allows clients to summon a town car, SUV, or taxi on demand. Holt has led Uber’s growth in Washington, DC, and successfully managed a number of regulatory and legislative battles with the Taxi Commission and DC Council. Before coming to Uber, she worked at Clorox and Bain and Company, advising them in media and health care industries. She was profiled as a “woman to watch” in the DC technology scene by DC Magazine and is on the DC Tech Board of Advisors.
Matthew Yglesias is the business and economics correspondent for Slate, where he writes the Moneybox column. His most recent book, “The Rent Is Too Damn High,” was published last year by Simon & Schuster.