Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ridiculous Moral Arguments in Business

Sometimes, a business with a government-backed monopoly on an activity thought to be morally dubious will make funny arguments against the start-up of similar businesses. Here you can read about American states with state-controlled liquor distribution, and the state stores saying as vaguely as possible that we shouldn't have more liquor stores, because they're evil.

The same silliness occurs with casinos and gambling, and especially lotteries. (This particular story reminds me of the hypocrisy around injuries in high school sports, vs. other high school activities). If we're going to rule that there are goods and services too dangerous for the free market, or dangerous enough that they should only exist as government-backed monopolies, we should have a transparent, automated rule for determining which goods and services those are. Otherwise, these decisions will always be made by exactly those parties that have conflicts of interest, and shouldn't be involved in the process.

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