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Health Care

More Government, Less Liberty

Welcome to the federal menu mandate:

Davinni's a local pizzeria-sandwich restaurant with 22 locations around the Twin Cities, will now have to comply with this mandate.  A caller to my Saturday show (who wished to remain anonymous) told my radio partner Mitch Berg during a commercial break that it will cost Davanni's approximately $200,000 to comply with the new mandate -- just to start.  Every menu change will require Davanni's to have the new or modified items re-analyzed, which means that Davanni's will probably resist adding new options for their customers.  Meanwhile, larger chains with more economy of scale for such efforts such as Pizza Hut can do the tests once for all of their locations, keeping their prices lower for their customers -- which they already do, thanks to consumer demand for the information.

Under those circumstances, will Davanni's feel compelled to keep the extra three locations open, or to scale back to 19 to avoid the mandate?  Even if they do keep all of their locations, that $200,000 will now get spent on something other than new jobs for teenagers and adults, and customers will pay higher prices for their food.  Local and regional chains with 15-19 locations have a big economic disincentive to expand any further. I don't know much about Davanni's bottom line, but I'm pretty sure that even though they make some of the best pizza and hoagies in the area, they don't have $200,000 lying around the pizza sauce to blow on lab analyses this year, or any other.

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Discussions - 3 Comments

What may be the worst part of this is the way in which the National Restaurant Association went along with it, supporting the legislation. I heard the spokesperson for that group yesterday on Hugh Hewitt explaining that they supported the change, in part, because they were tired of dealing with so many varying and confusing regulations of this type (think NY) and that they were hoping to get just one clear cut and standard regulation. In other words, they were eager to get one straightforward violation of their liberty so as to avoid the many-faceted ones coming from states and localities. They were so defeated that they were eager to put on these chains so as to avoid worse ones . . . though I wonder if the push to get the NRA to support this legislation didn't come, primarily, from the membership with locations numbering way beyond the minimum of 20.

This is the kind of thing that really ought to work to dispel the myth that modern liberalism is all about helping out the little guy. It certainly isn't about helping the little guy who has anything like an ounce of gumption with which to help himself. No. To get their help you've either got to be a powerhouse or pathetic. The usual effect of their regulation is to further enfeeble the unambitious and to further enrich their wealthiest supporters. But nice people will look at it and think: "Oh, isn't it wonderful that I can now look at the calorie content of a Big Mac before I order it [with a Diet Coke to wash it down]! This shows that government really does care about us and our health!"

As things are, the confusion of government regulation inhibits business success. Small businesses really have plenty to worry about just to stay in business. Then, when one of the major barriers to entry in the marketplace or even staying there is navigating the hazards of government regulation, people are left logically wondering whose side "The Government" is on.

I know that to say "The Government" implies a single entity when there really a legion of entities under that umbrella term I find that people meld everything from the local zoning board to the county Department of Health all the way to the President in that one term. Each level of government and department of government has its demands. Each contains paid bureaucrats who must justify their jobs with action. Each has demands (just short of a pound of flesh) that are onerous and often seem totally unnecessary. Those that are necessary could fall under categories like "Thou Shalt Not Kill" or "Thou Shalt not Steal".

God knows how to keep such things simple.

Simplification of regulation would be welcome so that, yes, even a bad standard regulation must seem better than the indigestible stew we have got.

If I understand Mr. Adams correctly, all of the restaurant's locations are in greater Minneapolis, which is to say in Minnesota. It is reasonable to assume that the entire workforce of these restaurants lives in Minnesota. It is also reasonable to assume that 98% of their customers reside in Minnesota. There is no need for the federal authorities to institute codes in the realms of labor relations, health and safety, or retail trade, which apply to this particular enterprise or any like it. Nor would this business be injured by discordant standards being instituted in Wisconsin. The National Restaurant Association is representing the interests of chains and franchise networks, which actually would be inconvenienced by geographic variation. A sensible solution would be to apply federal regulation to multi-state enterprises, leave Davinni's to the tender mercies of the State of Minnesota, and tell McDonald's that they will just have to give their franchisees a longer leash. Businesses like Davinni's might go so far as to form associations which represent them instead of Shoney's and Arby's and state legislators in Minnesota might just ask their Congressional delegation why federal regulators cannot be kept within their proper sphere.

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