Car lot
Patrick Ishmael

Back in 2014 I wrote on this blog and at Forbes about a legislative attempt to force companies like Tesla to sell cars through a middleman in Missouri. At the time, I wrote that "Missouri should not be out protecting businesses and business models, especially when doing so is clearly against the interests of consumers." And so it remains today, as a new effort is afoot to force car manufacturers to hire middlemen to sell their vehicles.

As famed economist Milton Friedman (and others) have emphasized again and again, being "pro-business" is not the same as being "pro-market" or, in this case, pro-consumer. If consumers want a more personal touch with their car buying decisions, then there will be a market for the car dealership experience. And if they just want an electric car direct from the manufacturer, shouldn’t they have that option, too?

I won't belabor the point too much since this is well-trod ground, but I do want to highlight this video featuring Friedman, and the Friedman quote below, to reiterate the problem here of playing favorites against consumer interests.

You talk about preserving the free market system. Who has been destroying it? The business community must take a large share of the responsibility. You must separate out being pro-free enterprise from being pro-business.

Missouri should take Friedman's point to heart and let consumers decide for themselves what they want from their car-buying experiences.


About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.