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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2005 / 9 Tishrei, 5766

'Net destroying business as we know it? Government thinks so

By John Stossel


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Internet has revolutionized the marketplace by, among other things, eliminating middlemen.

Internet car-buying services let you shop for prices and options without leaving home. "For sale by owner" websites show you houses for sale.

Uh oh. Can't have that, can we?

In a truly free market, businesses can't kill competition, because they can't use force. Unfortunately, in our "mixed economy," they can get their friends in politics to use force to stifle competition.

Adam Smith saw it all the way back in 1776. In "The Wealth of Nations," he wrote, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." He advised that any legislation such a group proposed "ought always to be listened to with great precaution." Detroit and its dealers wield enough influence in state capitals to make direct sales of cars on the Internet illegal everywhere but Alaska. Every year the automotive industry spends millions of dollars fighting government regulation, but when it can use government for its own ends, it does.


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When I confronted David Hyatt, spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers' Association, about that, he said, "If the manufacturer sells directly over the Internet, it leaves the dealer in an unfair competitive situation."

"So what?" I asked. "The Internet put lots of middlemen out of business. Consumers like it. I don't want to buy from the dealership!"

Hyatt answered, "There is a very healthy system in place."

Healthy for his car dealers, anyway. Less healthy for consumers.

Similarly, now that more home sellers sell their homes themselves, real estate agents are using their political clout to try to protect their 6 percent commissions.

In 2001 and 2002, California's Department of Real Estate, run by (surprise) a real estate broker, sent warning letters to some "for sale by owner" websites, demanding that they comply with licensing laws for brokers. In 2004, a federal court held this demand unconstitutional.

Limited-service "discount" brokers also threaten brokers' 6 percent commissions. They offer services at lower rates, like a flat fee of $250 to host a two-hour open house or $499 to review the contract paperwork.

So traditional brokers have won "minimum service" laws in many states that force discount brokers to offer more services — and thereby force consumers to pay higher fees.

When I confronted David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, about that, he said,

"Not everyone is providing the adequate amount of services to protect the consumer."

Excuse me, but if I want a Realtor to protect my interests, I'll hire one. I didn't hire them to protect me from concluding I don't need their services. If I think I'm better off selling my home with less help than they want to sell me, that should be my choice.

Part of being a free person is deciding for yourself what's in your interests. That doesn't mean you can't get expert help, but it does mean you get to decide when, how much, and from whom. If the Realtors think "for sale by owner" and discount brokerages are bad options, they should — as they do — make their case through advertising.

Ironically, the same industry asking government to keep home sales expensive has itself been a victim of government meddling. Real-estate agents share information through what are called "multiple listing services." It's one of their best services, and it costs money and effort to maintain. But the federal government is trying to force the brokers to let their competitors take advantage of their invention.

Why not let real-estate services compete on the open market? Traditional brokers provide a lot of knowledge and effort, and their multiple listing services reflect big investments; if you want the benefit of their energy and expertise, it's only fair that you should pay for it. But if you think you're better off with a cheaper alternative, that should be your choice, too. The government should stick to enforcing the contracts you willingly decide to make.

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JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


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