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Street Vendors

November 06, 1987

In reading the article regarding the street vendors (Metro, Oct. 26), I was struck by the now all too familiar cliche of "unfair competition." What this means in the context of this particular issue is that the street vendors are somehow unfairly competing with the "legitimate" businesses in the area. I would presume that this latter group has gained its legitimacy by obtaining government permits to sell goods, while these street vendors are "illegitimate" due to their failure to obtain such permits, and otherwise not conforming to the rules of "fair competition" as invented by the legislators.

It would seem to me, however, that such rules and privileges as are enforced by the government to the benefit of "legitimate" businesses and to the detriment of "illegitimate" businesses, are in fact the only true source of "unfair" competition. It is unfair because the one group has the power to force this other group out of business--and into jail--while the other group has no recourse whatsoever.

The only thing "unfair" about these street vendors is that they offer consumers a good bargain that other businesses (who pay good money in the form of license fees and taxes for protection from these "illegitimate" businesses) have a hard time offering. I contend that there is nothing "unfair" about this, and that, to the contrary, it provides a very important service to consumers while making it possible for these vendors to survive on their own initiative.

If you want "fair" competition, abolish the licensing fees, the taxes and all the other regulations which give privilege to some businesses at the expense of others.

JOEL WADE

Los Angeles

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