In Defense of Price Gouging

When hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast, state officials trotted out their usual warnings about price gouging. Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, price gouging can result in civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation and up to $250,000 per violation for victims over 65 years old.

When an item is in short […]

Free the Innovators

Chronicle columnist Chris Tomlinson correctly chastises those who predict that we are running out of resources.

Smart business people make their fortunes solving problems for a reasonable price. The key is innovation.

What Tomlinson doesn’t say is that innovators must be free in order to solve problems. An innovator is someone who questions the conventional […]

Mayors Versus Freedom

On Monday, Gov. Gregg Abbott warned that local governments were threatening property rights. As examples, he cited tree regulations, permitting, and property taxes. The following day, eighteen mayors, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner submitted a letter to the governor asking for a meeting.

In part, the letter states:

Harmful proposals such as revenue and spending […]

A Victory over Evil

For three years, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) investigated Spec’s Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods, the state’s largest liquor retailer. At the conclusion of its investigation, the TABC sought to pull the licenses for Spec’s 164 stores, unless the company paid a fine of $713 million.

The TABC alleged that Spec’s had accepted millions […]

The Evil of Occupational Licensing

A bill is being considered in Austin that will redefine what it means to be a psychologist. Anyone who engages in certain conversations with others will be considered a criminal if he doesn’t meet the state’s criteria. The bill would force life coaches, hypnotherapists, spiritual healers, business coaches, positive thinking coaches, and countless others to […]

Safe Buildings and City Regulations

The City of Houston makes building owners jump through outrageous hoops to obtain permission to occupy and use their property. Ostensibly, these regulations are intended to ensure the safety of those use the building. But as a recent audit of the Life Safety Bureau of the Houston Fire Department discovered, those regulations are nothing more […]

Tyranny for Me, Tyranny for Thee

Chronicle business writer Chris Tomlinson is opposed to freedom. In a recent column, he opined that those who don’t like a law need only “hire a friend in Austin”–a state legislator. Tomlinson then goes on to point out several examples of businesses lobbying state legislators to override local ordinances or rewrite state laws.

As one […]

Beer Cronyism

Last week, the Texas House passed a bill that will establish new regulations for craft brewers who sell directly to consumers. The bill will require brewers who produce more than 175,000 barrels per year to sell their product to distributors, and then buy it back from the distributors before selling it to consumers.

In theory, […]

Free the Electricity Producers

Centralized government planning never works. It’s true of the economy in general, and it’s true of specific industries, such as electricity. Though Texas reduced regulations pertaining to the electric industry in 1998, the industry remains heavily regulated.

Chronicle business writer Chris Tomlinson notes that Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulations are causing problems for the industry. […]

Cronyism vs. Competition

The Texas Legislature is considering a bill that will allow auto makers to sell directly to consumers. Currently, new automobiles must be purchased through a franchised dealership. Not surprisingly, the bill is opposed by dealership owners. Wyatt Wainwright, president of the Houston Automobile Dealers Association, recently met with lawmakers to explain why auto dealers oppose […]