Regulation, Progress & Protectionism

Regulation, Progress & Protectionism

Someone once quipped that whenever regulation increases, personal freedom decreases. Add to that this: Whenever regulation increases, the first victim usually is economic growth.

Think of all the machinations employed in recent years to stall or kill the construction of pipelines in the United States. Pipeline transport is, by far, the safest and most economical mode of transportation for oil, gasoline and natural gas.

A nation that keeps cutting of its nose to spite its face is a nation not serious about energy self-sufficiency.

Kroger long has been gone from the Pittsburgh market; organized labor saw to that 32 years ago. At one point, Kroger had 45 Pittsburgh-area stores in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. A bitter strike forced it to sell those stores, ending a 56-year run in Greater Pittsburgh.

But Kroger, the nation’s largest full-service grocer with about 2,800 stores, could be facing an even stiffer challenge nationwide. But this time, it’s innovation, not labor unions.

The New York Post reports that Amazon wants to open 2,000 bricks-and-mortar Amazon Go grocery convenience stores. A prototype store in Seattle allows “shoppers to swipe an app when they enter, then roam the aisles and grab staples like bread and milk, artisanal cheeses and chocolates and ready-made meals,” the newspaper says. “Customers can watch as the items they pluck off the shelves get added to a virtual cart on the app — and subtracted as they put them back — with receipts emailed to them once they leave.”

A consumer research guru says Amazon Go has the potential “to wipe out 75 percent of typical grocery-store staff,” primarily cashiers, the Post reports.

Whether this concept translate to full-service grocery stores remains to be seen.

Those of a certain age will applaud the technological advance. Those of another certain era will pine for cohesive neighborhoods with the proverbial butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

The New York Times reports that the House GOP might split with President-elect Donald Trump over his threat to impose tariffs on companies that move jobs overseas.

And with good reason: Tariffs should be a nonstarter.

The better option, of course, is the one House Speaker Paul Ryan proposes — overhaul onerous corporate tax policies instead of imposing tax penalties (a worse tax on top of already bad taxes) to keep jobs in the United States.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).