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Do Republicans Hate Free Markets?

Republicans claim to be in favor of free markets, but their actions speak louder than their words. For example, in North Carolina a bill sponsored by Republican state senator Tom Apodaca was just approved by the senate commerce committee, and is now ready for a vote, which would prohibit electric car maker Tesla from selling cars in the state. Why? Because Tesla sells its cars directly to consumers, rather than going through car dealerships. The bill doesn’t specifically mention Tesla, even though it is clearly aimed at them. It instead prohibits any car maker from selling direct (Tesla is the only car maker who sells direct).

What North Carolina is trying to outlaw is disintermediation, better known as “cutting out the middleman”. Disintermediation is what stores like Costco and Sam’s Club do, selling wholesale direct to consumers instead of forcing them to buy retail. It is also what internet companies like Amazon, Priceline, Shutterfly, Petmed, and Flowers.com do.

Unsurprisingly, the bill is backed by the NC Automobile Dealers Association, who claim that dealers are necessary, saying “The whole point of the retail system is to protect the consumer.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt protected by car salesmen.

Texas (and other states) already has a law restricting Tesla’s business model. In that state, the showrooms that Tesla has set up to allow potential customers to see their electric cars are prohibited not only from actually selling the cars, but they cannot even discuss the price nor offer test drives. Instead, after seeing (but not driving in) the cars, the consumer must go home and order the car online. But if the NC bill becomes law, consumers would not even be allowed to do that, so there is no way they could buy a Tesla car in the state.

When businesses ship jobs overseas to increase profits, the GOP just says that’s a free market. But when a company like Tesla tries to bypass a powerful group with lobbyists, it is a completely different story. Unsurprisingly, the NC Automobile Dealers Association gave the maximum contribution allowed by NC law to senator Apodaca.

So maybe they don’t hate free markets. They just love campaign contributions more.

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13 Comments

  1. ebdoug wrote:

    Could they have the car delivered over the state line and take possession there?

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink
  2. David Freeman wrote:

    I’ve noticed over the years in my garden that often a plant will flower with great exuberance the season before it dies. I hope this is the death flowering of the GOP. I couldn’t say we’re a center left state yet but without the 2010 gerrymandering, we’d be light blue. Change is coming here. Ignorance and hatred will lose in the long run.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink
  3. Dan wrote:

    We’re learning a lot. First that Republicans don’t like profiling. Now that they don’t like free markets. (Having said that, the latter was not so new.)

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  4. TJ wrote:

    Dan, I assume you’re taking about the IRS story from over the weekend. My first reaction to that was that the IRS is doing its job right if they are scrutinizing more closely the organizations dedicated solely to the cause of not paying taxes.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink
  5. gene108 wrote:

    I wonder if they’ll next restrict new gun sales to only authorized gun dealers? /snark

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  6. Scott Segraves wrote:

    Sadly, with the past week’s proliferation of problems for the administration — and the willingness of non-thinkers to follow the “usual suspects’” leads and KNOWING it was all Obama’s doing — we’d better come up with some honest antidotes to this poison. Otherwise, despite all the reasons we think are against it, we could be looking at another 2010 during the next mid-term elections. Maybe it’s just my pessimism trying to assume control, but I fear this country doesn’t have much more time for letting obstructionism “just wear itself out.”

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  7. westomoon wrote:

    Well, nobody ever claimed that Republicans were long on logic — nor are Southerners.

    No North Carolinian who can afford a Tesla cannot afford a trip to Virginia to pick up a car. Or, if the VA legislature decides to take a break from its ALEC anti-abortion agenda and passes the same crap law, a Union State.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  8. dave TN wrote:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/investor/2013/05/03/republicans-reverse-history-with-tva-defense/

    apparently they have discovered that they now like socialized government run power companies. Their pretzel twisting could ensure they get a job with the circus after they get booted out of office as an act “the amazing limber liar”.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    True free market means that government should stay out of business and more importantly businesses should stay out of government.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink
  10. Dan wrote:

    Small fish, how about the medicare drug plan? Not letting states use a basic free market tool, market share, to get a better price, like Walmart etc. Sen Grassley told me competition would drive down prices and later he was “outraged” to find out that drug companies paid competitors not to compete. Yeah right, didn’t see that coming.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  11. Dan wrote:

    PS- different Dan, at one time I as the only Dan, but now there are two.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  12. Peter wrote:

    No North Carolinian who can afford a Tesla cannot afford a trip to Virginia to pick up a car.

    Make sure you get the extra strong battery, though, or you’ll run out of juice before you get it home.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
  13. Dan wrote:

    The Daily Show does the profiling take: http://on.cc.com/170orDl
    Painful. Ironic. Hilarious.

    Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink