Carrying Your Job With You

Can’t believe Ezra Klein beat me to this hot story out of Germany:

Germany is known for both its innovative engineering and its sausages, so the technical leap could seem almost inevitable. But it was the high hurdles put up by the city’s bureaucracy that fathered the invention of these unusual contraptions that are now as much a part of the city’s sights as the television tower in Alexanderplatz or the cathedral, outside of which Grillwalkers also hock their sausages.

After losing his job in hotel management in 1997, Bertram Rohloff wanted to open a stand to sell sandwiches but found he could not get the necessary permits to set up shop. So instead he envisaged an evolution in food-preparation technology, a step beyond the rolling hot-dog cart, because without the necessary permits, neither the grill nor the sausages could touch the ground.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times — people ought to pay more attention to the regulations local government imposes on them and their city. Regulation can be necessary to protect the environment or public health, but routine business licensing is often mostly just about protecting incumbents from competition.