Ashton Kutcher, an entrepreneur and popular actor, denounced heavy-handed regulation in a recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Kutcher is a managing partner of the investment fund A-Grade Investments. One company his fund has invested in is Uber, the app-based service that connects drivers with passengers. Uber is rapidly expanding to cities across the U.S. and is in over 24 countries worldwide. But Kutcher is experiencing firsthand some of the roadblocks many businesses have endured.
Kutcher noted that “old-school monopolies and incumbents and old-school governments” are interfering with the transportation market, picking the winners and losers, and barring innovation.
For instance, Kutcher mentioned that Uber isn’t allowed to operate in Miami “because of some dumb regulation that says it can’t exist there.”
Miami’s cab industry is heavily regulated, such that “local laws have protected taxi-medallion holders for so long that any attempt to tinker with the rules is met with stiff political resistance.”
Audrey Edmonson, a member on the Board of County Commissioners for Miami-Dade County, proposed legislation deregulating the county’s transportation market so Uber and other companies could compete with traditional transportation services. But Dennis Moss, a fellow board member who is also the chairman of Miami’s Transportation and Aviation Committee, helped craft the existing restrictive regulations and is opposed to letting Uber enter the Miami transportation market:
If you want to pay for a luxury ride, then you should basically have to pay for a luxury ride.… That way we make sure that cab companies can also continue to make a living.
Unsurprisingly, his committee shot down Edmonson’s legislation, preventing a vote by the full board.
Some board members have decided to ensure that taxicab companies and drivers can “continue to make a living,” sheltering them from competition that could make the business more efficient, affordable, and enjoyable for riders. With the help of the government regulations, whether at the national or local level, certain industries and businesses are given an unfair advantage, subsequently stifling free enterprise and hurting consumers who are left with fewer options that are more expensive and less efficient.
Excessive regulations distort the market, harm consumers, breed unfairness, and damage the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs like Kutcher shouldn’t be hindered from creating services that create jobs and provide value to consumers. He got it right when promoting the value of hard workand it appears that he is right on the mark when it comes to understanding the danger of excessive regulatory schemes.