The Business of America

When Washington talks about regulating business, the rhetoric is usually couched as a way to keep large companies in line and protect consumers. In reality, these regulations tend to bite the businesses that do the most to help people improve their own position in life. Dan Flynn mentioned one such story this week: the ouster of a homeless bookseller Ken O’Brien from Harvard Square.

O’Brien, who sold books from a kiosk, was the subject of rarely-applied, antiquated permit laws that ultimately led the city to force him from his business. The city’s defense is that O’Brien was lax in his permit paperwork; surely the Boston city fathers frowned upon the fact that his kiosk doubled as his sleeping quarters as well.

As the Globe reports, O’Brien had plans to expand his business – a model which could have helped line the tattered pockets of his fellow homeless people. Perhaps, with a steady job, a few might have graduated to non-homeless status, as O’Brien did for a brief time.

On what is, unfortunately, a completely unrelated note, here’s a link to the city office charged with helping the homeless get back on their feet.

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