Rhode Island politicians like to give lip service to making the state a hub for technology companies, but they seem to think that means encouraging interactions between groups that can only survive with government subsidies, mainly because of (and by means of) government’s imposition of high barriers to entry and costs of doing business. The secret to generating new industries in Rhode Island is to lower costs so all variety of businesses can afford experiment (without government approval, as expressed through the subsidies) and reduce restrictions on what they’re permitted to do.
RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity CEO Mike Stenhouse and Taxpayer Protection Alliance Senior Scholar Drew Johnson highlight a great example in today’s Providence Journal:
Fortunately, the free market recently developed a way to bypass the optometrists’ office. New technology — known as “ocular telemedicine” — allows consumers to accurately measure their prescription strength on a smartphone or computer screen from the comfort of their own homes. A board-certified ophthalmologist then emails a vision prescription based on the results.
Patients can then use that e-prescription to purchase lenses or glasses wherever they choose, typically at much lower prices. With this technology, healthy adults only need to visit a brick-and-mortar eye doctor once every two years for a full eye health exam (as recommended by the American Optometric Association) instead of every time a lens refill is needed.
Naturally, entrenched interests have pushed for legislation to halt (or at least slow down) such innovations, and of course, some Rhode Island legislators are answering the call… no doubt with entirely selfless reasons. It’s funny how protecting people from themselves so often seems to profit somebody else, at least when it comes to regulations.
Can we stop that sort of behavior, please? Why not just let people figure out how to provide other people what they want?