Imagine this: You’re a hungry go-getter, and don’t want to do your own cooking tonight. You could call for delivery, and the options aren’t bad. You could pick it up yourself, and, again, the options are pretty much the same. But what if you could hop online or use an app to find great cooks and chefs in your area who will cook for you a special meal and let you pick it up at their doors?
Brilliant, right? Just think of all the new options for diners, and all the great opportunities for part-time cooks, aspiring chefs, and potential restaurateurs to test their skills and see how customers respond!
There’s just one problem: Government.
Indeed, a year ago at this time, Linnekin was sounding the alarm that, unless it was stopped, the juggernaut of the state was set to stifle these great opportunities for growth and satisfaction. He wrote of “Josephine,” the site that brought the cooks and the hungry together for business. But Josephine was in danger:
…(I)n May 2016, local health departments in Berkeley and Alameda – which are charged with enforcing California’s pervasive retail food code in their respective cities – sent cease-and-desist letters to several Josephine cooks.
See, California law requires licensing for people who want to offer a lot of the foods the home-cookers on Josephine were offering, so, out ya go, kids.
How dare you offer things to people voluntarily? Don’t you know you have to get permission from politicians, pay a bunch of cash, and focus large portions of your time on paperwork when you want to cook food for people?
Well, it’s been a year, and guess what?
Nope. Not good news. Probably to be expected, though, given that we’re talking California, which is seeing thousands of people a year flee to nearby Arizona and Utah to escape that tasty Golden State collectivism
Linnekin now reports that Josephine is shutting down in the Bay Area.
Incredible. This is simply a service to connect people who want to buy and sell things. And, as Linnekin noted a year ago, lots of folks that "progressives" claim to stand for were doing well thanks to Josephine:
Josephine partners intentionally with cooks who are often excluded from the more entrepreneurial areas of the food system. For example, 19 of every 20 Josephine cooks are women, 40 percent are immigrants, nearly half are people of color, and nearly 40 percent of Josephine cooks have household incomes under $45,000.
Sorry. No soup for you!
And Josephine is not alone. As Linnekin wrote last year, ideas like Josephine are popping up all over the US.
From underground supper clubs and street lobstah pushas to nonprofit incubator kitchens like San Francisco's La Cocina and for-profit companies like Washington, D.C.'s Feastly that feature accomplished cooks serving meals in their own homes, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs are helping to re-write societal norms around food provisioning in communities around the country on what would appear to be an unprecedented scale.
But not all state politicians are hip to the idea of letting people freely associate with each other. They’re promoters of what some observers call “The Rubber Bathtub Syndrome.” In other words, they feel compelled to “protect people from themselves” by dictating how they will live.
Compulsion for your own good. Elitism. Egotism. Conceit. Slavery.
It’s easy to imagine the protestations from the politicians. “Why, without our mandates, people could be hurt by eating the wrong food, get chow that's made improperly. Homemade cookies? No way! Private interaction and transactions? What?! People could be charged too much, etc., etc.! We need a policing system, and 'checks' to stop mistakes!"
So they impose these kinds of regulations, force licensing, or send the Food Police to restaurants to “inspect.”
Did they ever think that if there is a market for food quality, there’s money to be made by those who provide it, and those who offer opinions and publications about the quality of those who provide it? Funny, how organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a private institution, yet virtually no electrician in the industry will use a cable that hasn’t been checked for standards by UL. Crazy how online review sites for restaurants operate just fine without politicians running them.
Also funny how, as I noted for the Mises Institute:
On March 27, 2007, Jessica Fargen, of the Boston Herald, reported that auditors in Massachusetts found fewer than one food inspector working on any given day in the entire state. The auditors also revealed that local inspectors were often corrupt, and made special deals with those they were supposed to be monitoring.
Hard to believe.
Meanwhile, California politicians debate whether to slightly change their onerous laws to allow a little more freedom.
Why do people put up with this nonsense?
One thing is certain. The state can never keep up with the great developments of free people trying to peacefully serve each other’s needs. Because the state is parasitic, it can only get in the way.
RIP, Josephine. May you be resurrected in a freer world where more folks recognize the danger of the state.