"For Love of Neighbor" is a new documentary film offering a hopeful vision for Christian engagement in politics. Click here to learn more.

Regulation Nation

There’s no way around it: The American small business owner is buried under a mountain of regulation, unnecessary fees and senseless fines. In truth, we all are. Added costs that businesses incur do not simply evaporate into thin air like bad vibes at a Phish concert. Someone has to pay, and it won’t be the bureaucrats in Washington (or your local state capital). Examples abound of the gratuitous, and I would add exploitative, nature of over-regulation in local markets all around the country. From The Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Brad Jones is one of the owners of Buckingham Slate, a Virginia business a little over an hour’s drive west of Richmond. The company is distinguished by the quality of the highly valued Arvonia slate it produces. And by the fact that its roots trace back almost to the Civil War. And by the fact that federal regulators smacked it with a $4,000 fine.
Over a trash can.
The piece continues:
Buckingham Slate has racked up other fines, too—such as a $70,000 fine imposed because one of its trucks had an inoperable horn. Perhaps regulators were following the approach advocated by Al Armendariz, the former EPA official who said enforcers should “crucify” offenders to “make an example” of them, which would then make others “easy to manage.”
Wow. Sounds like someone’s going to have to start a #WarOnBusiness hashtag on Twitter! There is a perversely adversarial role that people in government positions of power tend to adopt toward small businesses, and this only intensifies when the bureaucrat in question is a progressive ideologue. This isn’t pure conjecture on my part. I’ve seen this played out firsthand, having spent a couple of summers during college working for a contractor in the Chicago-land area. In that land of one-party government, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats are king. Everything’s a monumental hassle, even the construction of a tool shed in someone’s back yard. And don’t even think about pouring this bucket of water down that drain, or placing that cardboard box of more cardboard boxes in anything but the proper receptacle—or you’ll have someone from the city (usually called in by a noisy neighbor) on you before you can say “Union for life!” The Richmond Times-Dispatch article continues:
The Hammocks own a dairy farm in Museville, Virginia. Because of drought, they wanted to put an irrigation pond on their property. They eventually managed to—after three years trying to get permission from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. “I think we’ve spent close to $30,000” in the process, Hammock says.
Seems like a good use of resources to me, no? Hold on while I get my binder full of regulations and make a note that “One retention pond = $30,000” so future dairy farmers can start saving for a “rainy pond fund” of their own. Regardless of who wins this week’s election, our country and economy are in desperate need of a deregulation “stimulus.”