If We Don’t Understand It, It’s Probably Illegal

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

The state of Pennsylvania has shut down the eBay business of Mary Jo Pletz, who started the endeavor so she could earn money at home while caring for daughter, who had developed a brain tumor.

Not content with merely running her out of business, state officials are also prosecuting her. One inspector who visited her home threatened that they were "drawing a line in the sand."

Her crime? Selling goods on the Internet without an "auctioneer’s license." Weirdly, they’re also threatening to take away her dental hygienist’s license.

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15 Responses to “If We Don’t Understand It, It’s Probably Illegal”

  1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Thankfully, the only reason state officials have the free time to pursue petty cases like this because they have completely solved all other matters of greater consequence.

  2. #2 |  nhmind | 

    One more example of why less government is better.

  3. #3 |  Bill Mill | 

    Your blog name is apt, you give me my morning shot of anger pretty much every day.

  4. #4 |  Nando | 

    If the auctioning is being done in another state (eBay is ran out of San Jose, CA), how can it violate PA laws? She’s not the one doing the auction, eBay is.

  5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Also, it seems to me a case can be made that ebay is the actual auctioneer and not this woman. For example, if Sotheby’s has an art auction in PA, does everyone who sells art at that auction have to have an auction license?

  6. #6 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Dollar to doughnuts that this was brought to the state’s attention by the PAA (Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association). Got to keep auctions in their control. Lovely side-effect of “state licensing” is that it creates little empires to keep out competition….

    http://www.paauctioneers.org/

    Going once…..going twice…..sold upriver by government nannyism

  7. #7 |  Tom G | 

    I am sure Mike is right, that the PAA is behind this action by the state.

    In a free (freer ?) society, the best way to “protect consumers” would be with NON-REQUIRED certification. That way, the information would be available to consumers who cared about what standards the business operated by, without restricting at all the right of other companies to go into business in a field without bothering to jump through hoops.

  8. #8 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Kind of like states that ban gambling so it doesn’t infringe upon their own lotteries???

  9. #9 |  Nando | 

    Which, in reality, gambling doesn’t affect state lotteries. Just look at NJ before and after Atlantic City was built up.

  10. #10 |  TC | 

    She was actually running a consignment house. It’s not like she was buying stuff and selling it, she was playing intermediary for the goods between the actual owner and the buyer.

    Not saying the state was right or wrong, but maybe she should have had some sort of business license.

    BUT she was not the actual auctioneer, e-bay is the provider of those services.

  11. #11 |  SayUncle » Auctioneer’s License for EBay | 

    […] In PA, authorities are trying to shut down an EBay business because, well, the authorities are idiots. […]

  12. #12 |  Exador | 

    Why, in the name Jeebus, would you require a license to be an auctioneer?

  13. #13 |  El Mike’s Internet News Blog » Blog Archive » Pennsylvania Sues Woman For Selling Goods On eBay Without A License | 

    […] just such a law is being used in Pennsylvania to go after a very successful eBay seller (via the Agitator). The story in that case is even more ridiculous, since the woman in question only began selling […]

  14. #14 |  ecommercejive » Do you live in Pennsylvania and do business on Ebay? Time to move. | 

    […] just such a law is being used in Pennsylvania to go after a very successful eBay seller (via the Agitator). The story in that case is even more ridiculous, since the woman in question only began selling […]

  15. #15 |  Do You Have Your eBay License? : Minor Thoughts | 

    […] How’s this for economic freedom: […]

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