I’m sure many of you that read the title have asked the question “what the heck are labeling laws?” I was similar in that thought process as well, but luckily, I read a pretty interesting rant / article concerning the topic at The Hill and had my mind expanded. To put it plainly, labeling laws ” are a form of “compelled speech” — speech that the government forces individuals to express.”
According to The Hill, in “the commercial context, the government may compel speech under certain circumstances…But these labels are designed to do more than simply satisfy curiosity or a vague “right to know”; they provide factual information that prevents consumer deception…Without these limits, the government could rationalize just about any labeling requirement, thereby running roughshod over business’s First Amendment rights.”
Labeling laws are a way to ensure consumers understand what they’re buying, in a sense, but the issue ends up on the financial side when both large and small business compete for customers. “While large businesses with equally-large advertising budgets can afford to offset required disclaimers with alternative messaging, their smaller counterparts may not even have an advertising budget. Instead, small businesses rely overwhelmingly on cost-efficient forms of marketing — think storefront signs and product labels. And government labeling requirements, often jargon-heavy (what is “imitation milk product”?) and unwieldy, undermine these limited marketing efforts.”
Labeling laws make complex products harder to sell because the benefits of said product become harder to explain to consumers. While a grocery store is one example, there are many others. Regulation like this isn’t necessarily bad, but it can become a competitive disadvantage when it is not well thought out.
Do you have any other law you think is unjust or gives large corporations an advantage? Let us know in the comments below.