This probably falls under the category of “local news” more than anything else, but I found it disturbing enough to feature here in case there are more instances around the country we’re not hearing about. In West Virginia there is a law on the books which flies directly in the face of the very nature of capitalism and open, competitive markets in the private business world. It’s a very specific regulation which applies only to moving companies and it seems tailor made to prevent anyone not already established in that market space from making a go of it.

In response, the Pacific Legal Foundation has brought suit against the state and they provide the details here.

West Virginia is imposing unconstitutional restrictions on entry into the moving business, by forcing entrepreneurs to prove a “need” for additional moving services before they are allowed to operate — a restriction that lets established firms “veto” new competition.

This roadblock to new competition — called a “Certificate of Necessity” law — is challenged in a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed today by entrepreneur Arty Vogt, owner of Lloyd’s Transfer & Storage, in Berryville, Virginia. Vogt’s business was blocked from expanding 10 miles across the border into West Virginia by the unconstitutional law. Vogt is represented without charge by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF). Donor-supported PLF is a national watchdog organization that litigates for limited government and free enterprise.

The PLF provides this informative, three and a half minute video which explains the literal and figurative roadblocks encountered by Arty Vogt and anyone else seeking to establish a new moving business in the state.

What I find truly baffling here is how a law like this ever made it onto the books in the first place. They have not only put in place restrictions on competition by the government, but handed the final decision as to whether or not a new business can launch their venture to the very companies they would be competing against. If this gets in front of a judge who isn’t literally on the payroll of companies lobbying to protect their own interests, that one statement alone should be enough to have it tossed into the dustbin.

But a law such as this does more than simply harm aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s disastrous for the rest of the citizens of the state as well. The very nature of competitive capitalism is what ensures consumershave a chance at receiving the best products and services at the most reasonable price possible without the need for heavy handed government regulation of the private sector. When a lean new business, hungry for customers, emerges in the marketplace, the older, established providers have to respond by making sure they are offering the same level of quality (or better) at an attractive price. If they fail to do so, the new business will flourish and eat into their market share while simultaneously delivering a better, more affordable product to the consumer.

This law seeks to stifle that system entirely in the home moving services market and no doubt costs West Virginia’s residents in both cash and quality. This regulation needs to be exposed and struck down because there is no excuse for it to exist other than cronyism and corruption.

MovingDay