By: Steve Sherman
I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. Chances are that you’re frustrated. If you’re a Democrat, you might be lamenting Bernie climbing into bed with Hillary. If you’re a Republican, you might be mortified that you have a guy like Trump as your candidate.
Both the Republican and Democrat National Conventions are here. They both promise to be exciting. The Democrats are literally building a wall around theirs. The irony.
The Republicans are strategizing a midnight delegate revolt dreaming of the Ides of March. Et tu Brute’.
Both are at risk of entertaining extreme violence and our entire nation seems to be on edge.
That’s why I suggest both parties should rally around a very important issue that is sure to diffuse anxiety – Crony Capitalism. Both sides are guilty of it and it has never been known to cause violence. Even though it should elicit that kind of response as it is that serious. It’s sort of like that 800-pound gorilla in the room.
Now would be a fine time to lay into corruption. The people will eat it up and the nation will be better for it.
A fine display of how it works lies in the contact lens industry. This is exactly the way good people go to Washington and go bad. Millions of Americans wear contacts every day. Millions of Americans who had previously been held captive by their eye doctor to only purchase lenses through them.
Previously, the eye docs and the manufacturers had an incestuous monopoly going where they controlled supply from start to finish and that created demand.
Once that lovefest got busted up in 2003 with the passage of the FCLCA, The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumer Act. People were free to get their prescription from their doctor and buy contacts wherever they wanted to. People literally saw the light. Capitalism and free markets are awesome.
The Act unleashed the free market competition pent up in the contact lens industry. Eye doctors were required to give their prescriptions to their patients who were then allowed to shop for the best priced contact lenses anywhere they wanted to. As a result, retail stores like Wal-Mart and online stores blossomed. Now more than a third of the total U.S. market is done online. This opening of the market also caused the prices of contacts to drop to all-time record lows as competition reigned. Econ 101 actually works and it’s awesome.
The eye doctors and manufacturers were not happy. So what do you do if they can’t beat the system fair and square? Get a couple doctors elected to congress and then set out to re-write the laws and get rid of all that economic freedom.
The Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety is the main lobbying group pushing for the old way to return. They are a coalition between contact lens manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson and the American Optometric Association. An unholy alliance of Docs and Manufacturers and they have found their huckleberry. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).
Senator Cassidy, a doc, has put forward his answer to freedom called the Contact Lens Consumer Health Act of 2016 (CLCHPA). This legislation effectively undoes the good changes to the contact lens free market by adding a stranglehold of bureaucracy and red tape to the process. It’s loaded with enough regulation and licensing to effectively drive out most of the new ways to get your contacts. Click here to read a summary of the worst points in the Cassidy bill.
I have two kids who burn through contacts like no tomorrow. I know this subject might only matter to those of us who are visually challenged, but it should matter to all love the free market, because it shows how our system is constantly gamed.
They’ve even tried bringing regulations in through the back door, by inserting language into (S 3067), a bill to fund the Federal Trade Commission, that effectively accomplishes much of Cassidy’s goal by crushing the competition with the weight of a burdensome government. This move was accomplished via Senator John Boozman, (R-Arkansas), a former optometrist who oversees the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. Apparently, being a crony does cross party lines.
It would be refreshing to see both parties come together and crush Crony Capitalism. The Party Conventions would be a great time for politicians of either stripe to stand up for something millions of American’s love and need like access to inexpensive contact lenses.