Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lorenzo Berardinetti — giant rube

The London Free Press reports that Ontario Liberal MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti is suprised that Lavalife and Quest, two Toronto-based major online dating services, have hired a lobbyist to derail Bill 9, his private member's bill that would outlaw gender-based price discrimination by private businesses and fine offenders up to $5,000.

A brief sent to politicians by [the lobbyist's firm] Hill and Knowlton warns the firms "will be forced to leave Ontario" if the bill passes. Lavalife employs 320 people and has annual revenues of about $90 million. Quest has 170 employees and annual revenues nearing $75 million.

"Why they would need to leave Ontario: Because their servers and call centres are located in Ontario, there is strong reason to fear that Bill 9 would apply not just to their Ontario customers, but to all of their transactions around the world," the brief says.

"Both Lavalife and Quest charge men for using their phone service while providing women with free access. This is the standard industry practice worldwide."

Berardinetti said he was taken aback that the firms had hired a big-gun lobbyist.
That Berardinetti is suprised that private firms would resist his government's meddling in the conduct of their business buttressed by punitive financial threats demonstrates alone that he is a giant rube. (It would probably be considered disingenous at this point to ask whether the financial penalties would be returned to the victims of gender-based pricing or placed in general government revenues.) But Berardinetti's bewilderment alone hardly disqualifies him from public office, particularly in a Dalton McGuinty-led legislature — what really distinguishes Berardinetti's rube-ness is his astonishment that arbitrary confinement of market mechanisms produce consequences beyond his limited awareness and imagination.
"I was a little bit surprised by that, because I really didn't think the issue was really about Lavalife (or online dating)," he said. "I thought the issue was about fairness and about gender-based pricing when it comes to areas like haircuts and dry-cleaning and alterations to suits and so on. For example if a woman spends 20 minutes to get her hair done and if a man spends 20 minutes to get his hair done, the price should be roughly the same for the same kind of work."
Yes, we all know what Berardinetti thought, his good intentions on the behalf of a particular constituency were never in doubt — unfortunately, his grasp of the economic consequences to central planning are as narrow as the artificial constituency he tries to mollify. Like natural shortages or gluts of resources, the influence of government interference in any one aspect of markets permeates throughout the economy in variously small or large ways in foreseeable ways. Those ways are, however, apparently unforeseeable to the central planners who in their arrogance imagine that they can manipulate one commodity with impunity and without consequence to the surrounding economic environment. Their arrogance is doubly dangerous because prediction by the markets of the arbitrary and changing political objectives of their manipulations is much less foreseeable. Of course, Berardinetti could amend his bill to restrict the machinations to his pet peeves of hairstyling and tailoring, but that would be admitting that the legislation is not based on any principle to begin with, the high horse upon which he is standing, but upon the narrow special interests he would be at pains to deny. And why would any private business trust him or his government on the point any time afterwards?
"We're not trying to put anybody out of business. We're just telling them to operate fairly," he said.
Of course Berardinetti's not trying to put anyone out of business — but he is trying to tell them what to do and how to do it. That's not business, that's fascism. As long as competition for business exists and restrictions are not placed on buyers and sellers for exchanges of goods and services, prices can never be considered unfair. Only when consumers have no choice whether to opt in to the purchase of services from an all-encompassing and coercive monopoly are prices unfair — such as from a Ontario Liberal government.


Sky Captain said...

I suppose he is trying to look as though he is smiling; can't help thinking he'd rather be biting the head off his daughter's pet Gerbil.

basil said...

Looks to me like he's already bitten it off and is trying to swallow it and smile at the same time.

Sky Captain said...

Initiation ceremonies have a lot to answer for.
Smiling while you suffer is the ultimate mark of the fraud.

Anonymous said...

That chick Lorenza Bernadetti might get more sympathy for her complaints about gender-based pricing if she'd ditch the butch haircut and stop wearing dudes clothes. I honestly thought it was a guy for a second when I first saw the picture.

Anonymous said...

um just to let you know Lorenzo Berardinetti had the right to post that law i think its wrong to price haircuts on what gender you are does it really matter?

Anonymous said...

lorenzo berardinetti is a man not a girl !!!da

Anonymous said...

lorenzo berardinetti rocks your socks !!!

Anonymous said...

lorenzo berardinetti rocks your socks!!

MapMaster said...

OK, Ms. Berardinetti, that's enough already.

deaner said...

"...i think its wrong to price haircuts on what gender you are does it really matter?"

Then you should open a hair salon and get rich off all the women who will flock to your bargain hair cuts, then, shouldn't you?