John Stossel

So the city's public transit union used its political connections to regulate the vans to death: The politicians have decreed that vans may not drive routes used by city buses or provide service to a passenger unless it is prearranged by phone; and the vans must keep a passenger manifest on board and enter the name of everyone to be picked up.

"Government makes it easier to get on welfare than to grow my business," Ricketts says.

The fight continues.

Case No. 3. Melony Armstrong of Tupelo, Miss., wanted to expand her African hair-braiding business. But Mississippi bureaucrats told her that to teach workers how to braid she needed a full cosmetology license. That required 1,200 hours of classes. Next, she needed a cosmetology instructor's license -- 2,000 more hours.

The courses and license had little to do with her profession. They were simply barriers to entry favored by her competition. Fortunately, IJ won that case.

Case No. 4. Dennis Ballen has a bagel shop located far off the main roads in Redmond, Wash. He couldn't afford to advertise on radio or TV, so he paid someone (typically unemployable people with quirky personalities) to stand on the road with a sign directing traffic to his store. It worked. The sign brought him two or three new customers a day.

Then Redmond police slapped him with a cease-and-desist order, warning he could face a year in jail or up to $5,000 in fines if he didn't stop displaying the sign. Ballen estimates that he would lose at least $200 a day in business if he complied. He and IJ sued the city and won the right to employ the sign-holder.

It's great that IJ and some determined entrepreneurs win a few victories for free enterprise. But in a country with a real free market, such lawsuits would be unnecessary.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate