Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Machiavellian Entrepreneurs

In my idyllic suburban hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts, the police shut down a brothel a few days ago. According to the Wellesley Townsman, one of those arrested for running the business was a man named William Eastwick.

The paper also notes that six months ago the Wellesley police shut down a similar operation nearby. That police action was based on a tip from the same William Eastwick. Oddly, when referring to the Eastwick tip, the town paper says "it is unclear why he did that."

His motive seems clear to me: Like any businessman, Mr Eastwick prefers to have fewer competitors. Some businessmen lobby Congress for trade restrictions. Others alert the police to the brothel down the block. And when using the power of the state to thwart competition, they can both pretend to be acting in the public interest.