What was the city’s excuse to bully Vroman and other food trucks in the area? “The town board has not approved [special use permits] because of their feeling that they’re in direct competition with people who have invested in a store, restaurant location and they didn’t feel that would be fair to them,” Henrietta Supervisor Michael Yudelson told a local news affiliate. The board is scheduled to decide Vroman’s fate, and the future of other street food vendors, this week.
A similar situation currently is underway in the city of Atlanta, where bureaucrats on the city council are waging war against street vendors. Even after a court decision last December, which eliminated a sweetheart deal that set-up a monopoly for the city, while still allowing them to loom over food trucks, Atlanta police are again roaming the streets, shutting down vendors.
The targeting of food trucks is a problem that reaches far beyond merely the rights of street vendor entrepreneurs themselves. The unchecked government aggression aimed at a very specific class of businesses is a troubling example of government cronyism at its worst. City officials, sometimes even using imaginary power, are becoming arbiters of “fairness” when it comes to business -- rather than leaving it to the free market. And, when picking winners and losers in the marketplace falls into the hands of government bureaucrats, consumers always lose.
By using government force to direct business, the positive evolution of the economy comes to a screeching halt. Just imagine if these local food truck bullies had even broader latitude to regulate businesses outside of the city limits. Online retailers like Amazon.com would likely be shut down because of their “unfair” advantage over struggling brick-and-mortar stores.
At the national level, one need look no further than the Obama Administration to see the effect of government cronyism. This administration has failed time and time again in its attempt to manipulate the energy sector, with disastrous consequences for taxpayers. Scores of “green” corporations are given government-backed loans as Obama attempts to use government power to force “green” technology on consumers. Dozens of these corporations have failed, costing taxpayers billions of dollars in losses; but the Administration’s “green” initiative remains undeterred.
Fortunately for street vendors, organizations such as the Institute for Justice are stepping in to defend these vulnerable small business owners from government bullies. IJ has established a national street vending initiative to help keep street food legal. Hopefully other individuals and organizations that believe in free enterprise and freedom will join in defense of these entrepreneurs.