Competition Breeds Innovation: Why This Country Has To Stop Regulating So Much

by Steven Cruz

America has become the country that has granted more dreams and has fulfilled more ambitions than any other because of one thing: the notion that hard work and a good idea will make anyone prosperous.

Competition has been the hallmark of that success, the drive and determination that it takes to refine someone’s idea, to make it just slightly better, to provide options for people. The examples are a part of our history:

Without Coke, we wouldn’t have Pepsi.

Without Trader Joe's, we wouldn’t have Whole Foods

Without Fox News, we wouldn’t have MSNBC.

America has prospered due to the advent of small business, which account for 26 million jobs in the United States and many of which have become multinational operations from their humble starts in someone’s garage.

Disruption is in our very nature, and it has been that desire to change the status quo that has allowed for the creation of many of the things we used today. Innovation has been the bread and butter of the United States for the past 30 years. People like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have decidedly proven that all it takes is one lone nut to create a movement, as if this dancing prodigy hadn't done that for us already.

However, the same way that competition is the mother of innovation, government regulation is proving to be its killer.

One only has to look at the news to see the countless examples of big business pleading for more regulation to slow down competition, all while pretending that it’s for the protection of consumers.

Sabra – the PepsiCo-owned company that produces dips, guacamole, hummus and salsas – recently petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the official definition of hummus. 

As the market leader in hummus sales in the United States, Sabra requests that the “FDA establish a new standard of identity for hummus,” and proceeds to list exactly what that identity should be, along with what they deem acceptable spellings for ingredients.

If you don’t find this presumption enraging, let me put it in other terms for you. This is akin to Microsoft telling Apple that it shouldn’t make computers because it was there first, or Motorola telling Apple that it has the monopoly on phones or Sony telling Apple that the iPod couldn’t exist in a world with MP3s.

Think about your life if Blockbuster had been allowed to tell Netflix that it couldn’t mail DVDs or enter the home entertainment market.

That would have also meant no streaming, which would’ve meant no “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black.” In the immortal words of Leonardo DiCaprio, “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.” I, for one, don’t know if I could live in a world without streaming "House of Cards" and without the other innovations that are redefining our generation daily.

Another prime example of entrepreneurial ventures running afoul of government cronyism is the cease and desist order issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles against ride-sharing services, Uber and Lyft. Miami is also seeing excessive vehicles being impounded, as the city hurries to do the bidding of the threatened taxi lobby.

Competition is what drives companies and producers to provide better, more efficient service – which is never a bad thing. Yet beyond convenience and value for the consumer, these companies are providing jobs to Americans who are often just trying to make ends meet. They can decide the amount of hours they work, so it’s a relatively easy way to earn a supplemental income or a way to tide themselves over between full-time jobs.

Currently, nationwide unemployment is at 6.3 percent. With so many millions of Americans out of work, does it make sense for the government to step in and shut down companies that are providing jobs?

For our sluggish economy to have any chance of recovery, the federal government has to get out of the way of the real drivers of the economy: the individuals and small business owners who are constantly working hard to create and innovate.

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