Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Valet Regulation is a Sham

The alleged purpose of government regulations is to protect consumers from incompetence, fraud, and general dishonesty on the part of businesses. By forcing businesses to operate in a certain manner, the thinking goes, consumers can be assured of receiving fair treatment from the companies that they patronize. But as is usually the case when individuals are forced to act contrary to their own judgment, the results can be much different from what was intended.

Consider the story of Megan Zambas, who used a valet service to park her car at a bar (HT: blogHouston). Some time after this she was pulled over and informed that a warrant was out for her license plate!?! (I must admit that I was unaware that warrants could be issued for a license plate, but that is a different issue.) Apparently, an employee of the valet service had "borrowed" her car and was issued a speeding ticket, which he failed to pay.

Zambas has spent considerable time and effort in a futile attempt to resolve this problem. The valet company is washing its hands of the incident, and the city official responsible for regulating valets is taking a similar stance:

Liliana Rambo issues permits to valet companies and says the city has never received a complaint against Courtesy Parking Service, the valet company responsible for parking Zambas' car. Rambo said, "We have 29 valet companies that have a permit."

"It would very hard to try to police every single valet operator with the amount of people and the amount of valet that happens," Rambo said.

So, if the city is not actually paying attention to the companies it is supposedly regulating, what is the point of the regulations? Given that valet companies must pay a $1,000 fee for permission to operate, we might think that such regulations are a means of raising revenue for the city. However, it is doubtful that the revenue raised from the 29 companies with a permit will even pay Rambo's salary, so it wouldn't be particularly beneficial to the city from a financial perspective. Of course, the city has previously claimed that money-pits somehow save taxpayers money.

Government regulations are seldom, if ever, motivated by revenue generation. Nor are they motivated by consumer protection, regardless what government officials may say. They are aimed at control over businesses. They are intended to dictate how businesses and individuals may act.

Government regulations are immoral for the same reason that they are impractical--they prohibit individuals from acting according to their own rational judgment in the pursuit of their own self-interest. They prohibit individuals from taking the actions necessary to sustain and enjoy their lives. And they become a magnet for power-lusting bureaucrats who relish the ability to impose their arbitrary decrees upon the businesses that they regulate.

It is interesting that Rambo is quick to make excuses for her inability to do her job. She has a mere 29 businesses to "police", but she cannot do that. Yet, those businesses are expected to obey her every demand and dictate. And consumers--the alleged beneficiaries of these regulations--are of little concern to her. The only "winner" in this sham is Rambo and her cronies.


Anonymous said...

If you want to go where there is little government regulation, go to Mexico where most people seem to do what they want. The lack of government regulation encourages gangsterism. The founding fathers were not stupid, they knew if left alone that people are capable of 'depravity'. On the same note, Ayn Rand was right, that the protection of the individual's rights is paramount of any government. However, heroic figures are nice but the reality is most people are not heroic. Just as there are checks and balances in government, depraved humans need to be checked from violating the rights of normal people.

Brian Phillips said...

While some individuals may be depraved, government regulations make no distinction between those who are criminals and those who are not. In your desire to control the actions of the "depraved" you also control the actions of the heroes.

Mr. Moderate said...

I don't know that we need an entire office devoted to regulating valet services. Seems to me that a few ordinances that specify such things as each parking attendant has to have a valid license and that valet services can't block parking spaces on public streets (thus letting me park without availing myself of the valet service, which might have a bunch of convicted felons as attendants) would suffice. HPD can enforce those rules. Otherwise, the normal rules that apply to all business ought to be adequate.

Brian Phillips said...

I don't think that we need anyone telling a private business how they should operate. That is between the owners, their employees, and their customers.