How to Hurt Everyone with Good Intentions

Via A Stitch in Haste, this story is enough to frustrate anyone remotely interested in economic freedom.

[Massachusetts] has warned the upscale Whole Foods supermarket chain that it will risk criminal charges under the state’s centuries-old “blue laws” if it goes ahead with plans to open on the holiday.

Is it so complicated to think that maybe Whole Foods, along with every other business, has a reasonable expectation that it can open its doors to customers whenever it wants? Yet, the reasoning behind this is what’s most ridiculous.

Shaw’s [Supermarkets], which has 200 stores in New England, complained to Reilly after some of its employees spotted a banner advertising a Thanksgiving Day opening at a Whole Foods in Bellingham.

“Besides disadvantaging competitors, a Whole Foods opening would harm consumers, due to lack of choice in the marketplace for consumers to shop and compare prices for the best deal,” Shaw’s legal department wrote to [Attorney General Thomas] Reilly on Nov. 4.

Ummm, if Whole Foods opens on Thanksgiving, consumers will be forced to buy at Whole Foods prices since they can’t compare prices for the best deal. I know that whenever I go grocery shopping, I visit three, sometimes four, different supermarkets before I contemplate making any purchases. Granted, consumers still retain the option to not buy anything, but why bother with that. Here’s the question, though. Won’t enforcing blue laws to Whole Foods’s detriment reduce the choice for consumers from groceries at one price to no groceries? That’s better? Granted, customers could go to 7-Eleven, since they’re allowed to open. Since we know they offer a wide selection at competitive prices, consumers are protected.

At least the Attorney General is looking out for the little guy.

Nick Messuri, chief of Reilly’s business and labor protection bureau, said that while the blue laws sound archaic, they protect workers from pressure to give up their holidays.

We don’t want the evil corporation taking advantage of the poor workers, which is what Whole Foods would no doubt do with such slave labor tactics.

[President of Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic Region David] Lannon said working on Thanksgiving was voluntary and workers would have received double pay.

How dare they be such heartless capitalists. As a new college graduate, I worked a temp job that paid me $7.50 per hour. Even a decade ago, that didn’t go very far. And I didn’t get paid holidays. January 1, 1996, I worked four hours while everyone else sat at home, enjoying hangovers, leftovers, and college football. My paycheck reflected a full day’s pay because of the double time. My electricity stayed on thanks to those uncompromising bastards who pressured allowed me to work that day. Virginia’s Attorney General didn’t step in to save me.