Regulation created in the name of protecting consumers often serves mostly to protect incumbent businesses from competition.
Today’s example: the licensing cartel in D.C. tour guides. Jenny Rogers at the City Paper tells the story of “Segs in the City,” a Segway-based tour company that refuses to get licensed.
Segs in the City offers daily tours of a city that requires its tour guides to be licensed, and the company has openly refused to license its tour guides—much to the chagrin of fellow Segway tour operators and many members of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington D.C. In the eyes of District regulators, the company’s guides are breaking the law; in the eyes of many Guild members, Segs in the City is violating something much more sacred, a standard of professionalism in a profession they take most seriously….
“I think not only should there be licensing,” says John Ciccone, a Guild member, “but it should be far more stringent and demanding than it is.” He calls Segs in the City’s desire to forgo the licensing test “preposterous.”
Bonus: The argument that women tend to fall off Segways:
Frank Fitch, another Guild member who has been giving tours for 16 years, objects not only to guides going unlicensed, but to the very notion of Segway tours. He claims to see two riders a week fall off the machines.
“It’s always a woman,” Fitch says. “I’m perfectly fine with women, but they don’t belong on Segways. I think it’s the center of gravity.”