Online Trade Barriers
By Arnold Kling
Michael Cox writes about trade barriers that affect Internet commerce.
Georgia requires buyers to purchase contact lenses in person, ostensibly to protect their health but in effect as a boost to in-state eyewear retailers. Oklahoma won’t allow its citizens to be buried in a casket bought out-of-state. South Carolina inhibits Internet mortgage brokers by requiring companies to maintain an in-state office with regular business hours. Thirteen states won’t allow consumers to fill prescriptions over the Internet. Restrictions are common on wine sales, insurance and telemedicine. All 50 states protect car dealers by prohibiting manufacturers from selling direct to consumers over the Internet.
I presume that Cox’s essay is based on this study from Robert D. Atkinson and Thomas G. Wilhelm of the Progressive Policy Institute.
For Discussion. Many of these trade restrictions are enacted in the name of protecting consumers. What characteristics of the Internet would imply that consumers need more protection? less protection?