Let market pick

It should not be the state's job to deny a business the opportunity to operate in Connecticut because of a "lack of proof as to public need for its service." Yet that is the reason the state Department of Transportation provided a Rhode Island furniture company when it denied its application to open an operation in North Stonington. In denying the license, the DOT also cited "a further negative effect" on existing moving businesses in southeastern Connecticut.

This is not a big company. Coutu Brothers Movers planned to open a three-truck operation on Norwich-Westerly Road, operating one truck in Connecticut and sending two others to build its business in Rhode Island. Company owner Bob Romano said he planned to hire three people in Connecticut to operate the one truck operating within the state.

But while the economic affect of denying this one license will be relatively small, the principle is a major one.

Licensing decisions for a moving operation should not involve an assessment of business viability or of potential impact on competitors. The state should leave the judgment of whether there is a sufficient market to support a business investment up to the company owner and the banks he or she may need to back the enterprise. Potential competitors should expect no special protection. Instead, they should expect competition, succeeding by offering superior services at competitive prices. It's called capitalism.

The past legislative session just witnessed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy trying, and failing, to persuade lawmakers to lift pricing controls and licensing restrictions that discourage competition in the retail liquor sales industry. Legislators opted to protect existing package stores, only willing to add Sunday sales to the law.

Gov. Malloy apparently needs to look at other state bureaucratic requirements that are discouraging competition. Mr. Romano reportedly spent $6,000 trying to gain necessary Connecticut state approvals before the DOT blocked him. That will certainly not encourage other small businesses to expand in Connecticut.

The state should require a moving company to have the right equipment, adequate insurance for the goods it will carry and all its paperwork in place, but proof of need should be a judgment left to the marketplace.

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