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Is There Freedom to Move?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Imagine you want to start a business, but the government says you can’t unless your competitors approve. If you want to start a moving company in Oregon, that’s the gauntlet you have to run. Not surprisingly, existing movers haven’t let a new kid onto their block in the last two years.

It’s this onerous requirement that caused Pacific Legal Foundation to file a federal lawsuit against the state of Oregon last week on the grounds that the right to earn a living in one’s chosen occupation is protected under the U.S. Constitution. Government may regulate to protect the consumer, but not to protect businesses and interest groups from competition.

The case involves PSU student Adam Sweet who, along with his stepbrother, started 2Brothers Moving & Delivery in Portland. Their part-time business with a pickup truck quickly evolved into a full-time moving company with a van. But in February, the state fined the brothers and confiscated their truck because they hadn’t followed the rules which would have allowed their competitors to kill their business before it began.

Adam decided to fight back. He understood that this rule doesn’t just hurt his company; it also hurts consumers, since Adam was charging less than established moving companies.

The case is Sweet v. Myers. All Oregonians should be rooting for Adam, and for his right to earn a living. If we don’t, the next fine and confiscated property may be yours.

Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Steve Buckstein is Director of Cascade’s Government Transparency Project and the Oregon Economic Opportunity Project. Based in Portland, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s free market research center.

© 2008, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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