This week, I took my bed-ridden wife (temperamental pregnancy) for a walk in a wheel-chair. We decided to go to a new El Salvadorean restaurant a few blocks away and try it out. The restaurant is located within a small residential-area strip mall. This particular residential area is mostly middle to low income class. The restaurant was small and had about 5 tables. It didn't have much by way of decorations, but was painted yellow and brown on the inside. The owner, who took our order, is an El Salvadorean immigrant and was extremely friendly. He's trying to start a business, after all.
We ordered and he shortly brought us our food. As we sat their eating, I began to reflect on what types of inspections and certifications he must have gone through in order to get permission to serve us. As I looked around at the place, at the floor, and into the kitchen, it occurred to me that the only person's opinion that counts on whether or not this restaurant is a fit place to eat, is my own. Had I seen a dirty floor, I could have turned around and left. Had the owner not been friendly, I could have turned around and left. Had my food not been clean and edible, I could have turned around and left. I realized that I, as the consumer, was the only regulator of this restaurant that truly mattered. What a waste of time and resources appeasing to any other type of regulator must have been. As the consumer, I am who matters and I am who decides those businesses that succeed or fail. Not the city, not the state, not the President. The consumer is the greatest and most efficient regulator a business must adhere to. As someone that was just trying to grow his new business by making customers happy, I felt I could trust him to serve me food safe enough to eat in an environment safe enough to eat it. Nothing else mattered.
I give you a challenge, the next time you shop somewhere, or eat somewhere, or get entertained somewhere, look around and decide for yourself if that's where you want to be, and if that's the kind of place you want to patronize. You are the consumer, and for that you are the regulator.