Thursday, December 08, 2005

Poisonous Tacos in Nashville?

First a news excerpt:

"Citing health concerns, the city is considering a ban on taco trucks and other mobile food wagons that dot the busy streets in Nashville's immigrant neighborhoods. But critics say the proposed ban has more to do with cultural differences than health. "There's a resounding feeling that these actions are driven by racism," said Loui Olivas, a business professor at Arizona State University. Nashville is one of several cities with fast-growing Hispanic populations that have tried to restrict food trucks recently, he said. "Folks weren't pointing fingers or speaking loudly with traditional hot dog vendors or bagel or ice cream vendors," Olivas said. "That's always been a part of growing up in America. Why the concern now?"

The racism accusation should succeed at putting the kybosh on the whole move of course and I think this is one occasion where such an accusation will do some good. We read the real reason for the ban a little later on -- a reason that goes all the way back to Adam Smith:

"The 31 trailers were chosen for inspection because they operate every day throughout the city, health inspectors say. "They're not created to function as a full-time restaurant, and that's become the case," said Bradley, who has received complaints from businesses near the food trucks.


What Adam Smith said was that businessmen "seldom gather together except to conspire against the public interest." And getting governments to make rules that squash your competition is as old as the hills.

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