Leftist writer shocked to discover how hard it is to start a business


Matt Yglesias, a far left pundit for Slate, has recently found out the hard way something those on the right have been screaming for eons: it’s darn near impossible to start a small business under the thumb big government.

From Matt Yglesias via Slate.com:

Not that I expect your pity. I don’t even pity myself. Going through the process, I mostly felt lucky to be a fluent-English-speaking college graduate with a flexible work schedule. But the presence of a stray pamphlet offering translation into Spanish, Chinese, or Amharic seemed like it would be only marginally useful to an immigrant entrepreneur. A person who needs to be at her day job from 9 to 5 would have a huge problem even getting to these offices while they’re open …

Red tape, long lines, inconvenient office hours, and other logistical hassles probably won’t stop tomorrow’s super-genius from launching the next great billion-dollar company. But it’s a large and needless deterrent to the formation of the humble workaday firms that for many people are a path to autonomy and prosperity.

Read the Rest (Be warned, it’s a Slate link)

The last sentence sums it up perfectly. These regulations (and he doesn’t even come close to listing all of them) are a major deterrent to innovators and entrepreneurs trying to start a business. This whole experiment reminds me of the time that John Stossel tried to open up a simple lemonade stand in New York City. Here are a few of the hoops he had to jump through to be legal:

— Register as sole proprietor with the County Clerk’s Office (must be done in person)

— Apply to the IRS for an Employer Identification Number.

— Complete 15-hr Food Protection Course!

— After the course, register for an exam that takes 1 hour. You must score 70 percent to pass. (Sample question: “What toxins are associated with the puffer fish?”) If you pass, allow three to five weeks for delivery of Food Protection Certificate.

— Register for sales tax Certificate of Authority

— Apply for a Temporary Food Service Establishment Permit. Must bring copies of the previous documents and completed forms to the Consumer Affairs Licensing Center.

Then, at least 21 days before opening your establishment, you must

arrange for an inspection with the Health Department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation. It takes about three weeks to get your appointment. If you pass, you can set up a business once you:

— Buy a portable fire extinguisher from a company certified by the New York Fire Department and set up a contract for waste disposal.

— We couldn’t finish the process. Had we been able to schedule our health inspection and open my stand legally, it would have taken us 65 days.

Read the Rest

Look, don’t expect this epiphany to change the way he looks at big government. No one who is so far to the left that he doesn’t even understand property rights, the most basic economic principle, is going to suddenly start understanding more complex economic issues like the negative consequences of government-created economic uncertainty, high taxation and burdensome regulation. But it’s good to see that he was at least confronted with the problems that small business owners and entrepreneurs face every day.

H/T: The American Interest Blog

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