California has a new law that requires all eggs sold in the state to come from chickens that are housed in roomier cages. Specifically, the hens “must be able to lie down, stand up and fully spread their wings.”
So how many Californians have been arrested for eating the wrong kind of egg? Zero. Not even one? Not one. Actually, the law doesn’t take effect until January, but even then egg eaters will have nothing to fear. The reason: the law doesn’t apply to people who eat eggs. It only applies to people who sell eggs.
When you stop to think about it, that’s not unusual. Almost all government restrictions on our freedom are indirect. They are imposed on us by way of some business. In fact, laws that directly restrict the freedom of the individual are rare and almost always controversial.John's main point: the regulatory state entangles businesses but largely leaves people (i.e. voters) alone. If it did, us peasants would rise up with pitchforks and put a stop to it. He has a bunch of examples:
Take OSHA regulations. If a construction firm employs carpenters who climb ladders, federal law regulates how safe the ladder must be. But is there any law that tells you how safe your own ladder must be if you decide to climb up on your own roof? Of course not. Although the federal government imposes safety standards on almost every work place, it imposes no safety standards on how those workers behave when they are not at work. They can sky dive, hang glide, scale vertical cliffs, scuba dive in caves – and take just about any other risk they desire.I don't really buy the provocative bottom line counterfactual
Bottom line: if there were no firms, taxes would be much lower, there would be far fewer regulations and government would be a much less important institution in our lives.Perhaps he means "democratic" government as there have been plenty of modern tyrannies that restrict individuals. And many firms welcome, nay, demand, regulation as a way to stifle competition.
But that aside, the basic point that our government hyper-regulates firms, but dares not do such things to individual voters is good and interesting.