Do Entrepreneurs Intentionally Harm Us?

Sitting in Micro and just had to turn on my “Shut Up” Mode while my teacher recites that we wouldn’t be able to enter a restaurant without the FDA because we would all almost certainly end up with food poisoning. That we wouldn’t possibly trust a restaurant without FDA and other regulatory certification.

First off, the FDA didn’t exist until 1930 and there have always been trusted and widely patronized eateries in this country.

Second, and FAR more importantly, for all of my friends who are restaurateurs or other restaurant professionals, does it offend you as it does me, that someone would say that a regulatory agency is what keeps you serving safe food? That your personal moral and monetary interests wouldn’t keep you from making people sick?

Is it true that it happens? Sure! Both by mistake and negligence. It happens TODAY, with all our regulation.

But I just had a professor say we couldn’t, as a GENERAL RULE, trust restaurants without a bureaucrat holding them accountable.

Opening and running a successful food establishment is simply and historically one of the most difficult business accomplishments in American enterprise. The sacrifice of time and effort required, let alone the luck and talent it takes to meet clients’ evolving tastes and preferences, is just massive. And those I know, take it as a calling, because that’s all they can see themselves doing.

To call out dedicated entrepreneurs and say to a class of impressionable college students that they couldn’t trust them to serve safe food without some government agent of the city’s food inspection office or other higher bureau, is simply wrong. On it’s face that is wrong.

Restaurateurs serve safe food because they are first people, and people do not (as a general rule) set out to hurt people when they get up in the morning.

Restaurateurs serve safe food because second they are hosts and artists at heart. They enter this crazy hard business because they love seeing people having a good time eating good food. They are also chefs and foodies who want to impress and innovate. Serving anything less than safe and delicious food, means that they fail as hosts and as creative personalities.

Finally, restaurateurs serve safe food because they are business people. If they serve unsafe food, they go out of business. It may happen, but NO entrepreneur gets up in the morning and says to themselves, “I feel like destroying my company today in a blaze of lawsuits and terrible press after hurting a bunch of customers.”

This mentality is pervasive in our country. You can blow it off by saying some people just don’t know facts, that some people just think 2 + 2 = 5. But it is so much worse. This is a mentality that leads to moral judgments on our class of entrepreneurs. This is the mentality that leads people to say, “They’re just after profit” with a sneer on their lips.

Our business people are first just people. Are there good AND bad business owners out there? Sure. Are there good AND bad business employees out there? Sure. Are there good AND bad government regulators out there? Sure.

Given the choice, I would much rather trust a business owner who is controlled by a necessity for revenue and profit (simply revenue which exceed your expenses) rather than someone controlled by the relative arbitrariness of the legislative process.

But that’s just my opinion…

At the MINIMUM though, can we not reject in the strongest terms these blanket characterizations of fellow citizens? Can we stop basing our statements (TEACHINGS in the case of what I am hearing right now) on fear and apocryphal harms? Can we base our beliefs on our actual experiences or well founded historically evidence?

Fear can bring wisdom when accurately weighed, but it is the worst weapon mankind has ever known when wielded indiscriminately. Is it evidence of societal rot when this kind of fear and unevidenced scape-goating of a group of people can be thrown around in a college level economics course?

I think it may be even more troubling that I actually don’t think any of this was a thoughtful sentiment, but instead just an offhand remark of belief assumed to be true and unquestioned…

Hmmmmmmm…

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