I have a confession to make...
I bought some eyeglasses online.
I'm guessing I may have broken some obscure Oklahoma law, but I really don't feel all that guilty about what I did.
Oklahoma does not allow any retail sales of prescription eyewear in department stores. It's been that way since who knows how long. And it's not the only example of pandering and trade protectionism.
We live in an age of consumer empowerment and more choices than ever before, but one glaring exception is the statutory ban on many retail outlets who would love to offer more selection on competitively-priced eyewear.
As a child, I had friends who suffered academically when their glasses got broken and their parents could not afford to buy replacements until the next month.
Most Oklahomans by now have seen web ads from Zenni or other global merchants. Sales tax is rarely collected from the web purchases made by Oklahomans.
My eye doctor is adamant that eyewear must only be sold by him and his fellow doctors because proper fitting is so crucial to my health.
Never mind that he's never personally fitted me with glasses. He leaves that to the support staff. But he and his fellow trade group members do have lobbyists standing guard against any such blasphemous talk as what I'm sharing with you, now.
Other trade groups are also maniputating Oklahoma law by building and guarding 'carve-out' legislation to keep other merchants from encroaching on their exclusive market.
Our statutes give exclusive legal power to several private trade groups to decide who gets to:
Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom (OCF) is an organization of retailers, consumers, and free-market advocates. OCF supports common sense reform to enable Oklahoman consumers to have greater choice while increasing opportunities for Oklahoma retail businesses and communities.
“Basically, we are committed to giving Oklahoma consumers more choices, better prices, convenience, because we think that the public benefits when consumers have more choices and you have more competition,”
said Gwendolyn Caldwell, a lobbyist with Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom.
The Wal-Mart-backed group, Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, raised about $5 million last year for another state question that will soon let retailers sell wine and stronger beer. The eye care petition would amend the Oklahoma Constitution.
The legislature blocked efforts to adopt similar changes in the law. Last year, Sen. Kyle Loveless filed a bill but it never saw a vote. He said consumers will like the idea.