March 24, 2017

The Left, Right and Center all say they hate them: Powerful special interests who use government power for their own private benefit. Now there is a new, artful and memorable one-word pejorative to describe them: Bottleneckers, which is also the title and subject of the Institute for Justice’s new book (Encounter Books, $27.99). The book is now being featured in speaking engagements at State Policy Network events across the nation.

A “bottlenecker” is anyone who uses government power to limit competition, thereby reaping monopoly profits and other benefits. Bottleneckers work with politicians to constrict competition, entrepreneurial innovation and opportunity; they limit consumer choice; they drive up consumer prices; and they support politicians who willingly overstep the constitutional limits of their power to create, maintain and expand anticompetitive bottlenecks.

Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit provides a rich history and well-researched examples of bottleneckers in one occupation after another. Among the trades documented in the book are alcohol distributors (who gave bottleneckers their name), casket cartels, cosmetologists, interior designers, tour guides, taxicabs and New York City’s dollar vans, street vendors, and opinion columnists and bloggers, each of which has been the focus of bottleneckers bent on using government force to keep others out. Bottleneckers also points the way to positive reforms that open the marketplace for new businesses.

For the past two years, IJ Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter and his team worked to document how bottleneckers in one industry after another captured government power and then used that power to block competition. Regular readers will know that it is often an industry itself that invites the government to impose new protectionist regulations on it. This is not how government power is supposed to be used in America. IJ’s goal with Bottleneckers is to spotlight those who have abused this power.

This book both provides a history of how bottleneckers took control of so many occupations and gives clear solutions to fix this problem. One of the most significant contributions of this work is that it documents how these licensing schemes are being broken open in state capitols on both sides of the aisle, in courts of law, and in the court of public opinion. It is possible to end this practice, and Bottleneckers shows how that can be done.

Bottleneckers Author Featured in State Policy Network Talks Nationwide

Dick Carpenter is participating in a nationwide speaking tour to promote Bottleneckers. For an update on new dates in your area, check back at

February 1
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Austin, Texas

February 22
Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Atlanta, Georgia

February 28
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Lansing, Michigan

March 6
John Locke Foundation
Raleigh, North Carolina

March 8
Pacific Research Institute
San Francisco, California

April 20
Pacific Legal Foundation
Sacramento, California

April 25
Advance Arkansas Institute
Little Rock, Arkansas

May 2
Pioneer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts

May 10
Illinois Policy Institute
Chicago, Illinois

May 25
Independence Institute
Denver, Colorado

Subscribe to get Liberty & Law magazine direct to your mailbox!

Sign up to receive IJ's bimonthly magazine, Liberty & Law, along with breaking news updates about the Institute for Justice's fight to protect the rights of all Americans.