By the Left Coast Rebel
Can the government make entrepreneurs do useless things? Should the government force entrepeneurs to do useless things?
Those among us who think and question our nation's body politic unfortunately already know the answer to these questions before they are even asked:
Via Reason.tv, from the Institute for Justice:
Verlin Stoll is a 27-year-old entrepreneurial dynamo who owns Crescent Tide funeral home in Saint Paul, Minn. Verlin has built a successful business because he offers low-cost funerals while providing high-quality service. His business is also one of the only funeral homes that benefits low-income families who cannot afford the high prices of the big funeral-home companies.
Verlin wants to expand his business, hire new employees and continue to offer the lowest prices in the Twin Cities, but Minnesota refuses to let Verlin build a second funeral home unless he builds a $30,000 embalming room that he will never use.
Minnesota's law is irrational. Embalming is never required just because someone passes away and the state does not even require funeral homes to do their own embalming. In fact, it is perfectly legal to outsource embalming to a third-party embalmer. Minnesota's largest funeral chain has 17 locations with 17 embalming rooms, but actually uses only one of those rooms.
Why is Minnesota forcing Verlin to waste $30,000 on a useless embalming room as a condition of expanding his thriving business?
So that the big, full-amenity funeral-home businesses can benefit from a law that drives up prices for consumers and operating expenses for competitors such as Verlin. Verlin's basic services fee is only $250, which is about 90 percent lower than the $2,500 that the average Twin Cities' funeral home charges. Verlin's business model is built on minimizing fixed costs, which is why he does not have a hearse or chapel, and this law—to the advantage of his competitors—stands in the way of him expanding his low-cost, high-quality approach.
The government should not force Minnesotans to do useless things. That is why on January 19, 2012, Verlin and the Institute for Justice challenged the law in state court.
The Minnesota Constitution protects every Minnesotan's economic liberty, which means that it protects entrepreneurs from being burdened by legal requirements that are either useless or designed to suppress honest competition.
A victory here will not only free Verlin from an unconstitutional restraint on his economic liberty, but protect entrepreneurs across the state from pointless laws and bureaucracy.