You’re justifiably proud of your waffle maker. It was a lesser-known brand, yet it cost half as much as its competitors, and its brilliant texture sensor guaranteed you got flawless waffles every time. Unfortunately, as soon as you plugged it in, someone mistook your power station for a drive-through, and just like that, your waffle maker was toast.

No worries, you thought, just get a new one. But alas, your beloved waffle maker had been discontinued. It turns out its popularity caught the eye of a competitor who bought out the company, sacked the entire staff, and scrapped the product line. Now, though they own the innovative sensor technology, they only include it in their ridiculously overpriced premium models—your favorite feature now out of reach unless you’re willing to pay double.

If only there were regulations to prevent such injustices.

Honestly, every time politicians meddle in consumer affairs, I can’t help but cringe. Take 2017, for example, when the Trump administration slapped a hefty 24% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber. Sure, they had their reasons, but suddenly, everyday essentials like toilet paper and paper towels started devouring my budget.

And don’t get me started on the debacle Congress created by insisting that all cars be fitted with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Now, every new tire purchase for my Dodge costs me an extra $30, and it’s so unreliable that my wife still keeps a manual gauge in the glove compartment.

Yet, there’s one glaring issue I fervently wish Congress would address—the troubling practice of companies acquiring competitors just to kill off their product lines. I’ve watched, time and again, as innovative products were swallowed whole, not to enhance the market, but to obliterate it under the guise of competition. They discontinue brilliant product lines and peddle their substandard wares without a shred of remorse. It’s absolutely infuriating.

Take Eagle PCB, for example, once a stellar tool for schematic capture and PCB layout. Captured by the Autocad empire, it’s now shackled to an expensive Fusion 360 subscription. How is this fair to the consumer?

This predatory practice isn’t confined to software. It spans across industries—from watches to fast food, navigational aids to electronic components. I’ve even heard of a semiconductor company that bought out its rivals and nearly crippled every high-reliability electronics manufacturer for years. The damage done in such cases is immeasurable.

While I’m not opposed to acquisitions per se—after all, not everyone wants to pour 60 hours a week into a building a company—I firmly believe there ought to be laws to prevent companies from buying rivals merely to stifle competition and force their own inferior products onto consumers.

I concede that acquiring companies at the forefront of technology can sometimes accelerate innovation. But to then bury those very innovations because they challenge your existing products? That’s just cruel and short-sighted.

Consider the waffle maker with its unique texture sensor. Now, to own one, you’d have to either mortgage your house again or gamble on eBay. It’s a colossal step backwards.

Think of all the innovation and financial loss suffered by consumers due to this rampant corporate greed. Numerous companies and their groundbreaking products have vanished, all because a larger entity saw a profitable opportunity to maintain the status quo with inferior products.

Hoping for rationality in this Congress might as well be a fantasy. Worse, if they did pass a law addressing this issue, it would likely be as effective as a law attempting to repeal gravity. Yet, I remain hopeful—after all, from tiny acorns, mighty oaks do grow. This is my acorn; may it one day sprout into change.

© 2024, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.