The Big Think

January 10, 2014

Think Small

Filed under: Business,Politics — jasony @ 10:29 am

For Small Businesses, Small Matters:

“We tend to talk of entrepreneurship and business growth as if it were a matter of tweaking a few simple policy buttons: lowering taxes, making health insurance cheaper, hamstringing the EPA. Unsurprisingly, these issues map well onto big national policy battles. And yet, when I talk to small-business owners, I’m more likely to get an earful about their state’s workers’ compensation scheme or the local utility’s pricing schedule than I am about the federal tax rate. Yet almost none of the policy journalists I know could even describe in detail how workers’ compensation insurance works, much less articulate a coherent policy agenda for it.

Then there are the sort of soft institutional issues that Meyer highlights, such as whether the local legal system encourages frivolous lawsuits, or some arcane regulatory issue that’s specific to businesses. These things matter a lot, but they’re hard to measure and even harder to fix.

There are a few lessons in this: If you want to encourage entrepreneurship, talk to business owners, not policy wonks. And you often need to think local, not global.”

There are a few big and obvious hurdles to starting a business that people generally are aware of when they embark on entrepreneurialism. It’s part of the cost of starting up. Advertising, permitting, federal taxes, etc, are the sorts of things that you would expect to have to do in a civil society, and we’re all the better for that sort of organization. But the one thing that surprises most people is the sheer amount of tiny, arcane things that you have to put up with if you’re going to be self employed. The quarterly Texas sales tax form is like doing a mini tax return every three months (oh joy) and you must fill one out even if you had no sales at all. This takes time that the small businessperson would much rather be devoting to the business. To add to the insult, you need to get permission from the state to go into business, as well as get their permission to go out of business. If you don’t? It’s a fine. For not being in business. Madness. What started as a possibly justifiable procedure on some bureaucratic level has morphed into a ridiculously silly hidden rule that makes the entire exercise exasperating and frustrating.

It’s these sorts of things that small government folks are often referring to when they complain that the government has gotten too intrusive. It’s also not a coincidence that businesspeople tend to favor the small government philosophy. No, we’re not against schools. Or roads. Or fire departments. Or any of the other commonly-referenced examples whenever this discussion arises. We are, however, against the kudzu-like growth of the Regulatory Code Enforcement Management Compliance Office Subdepartments that just get in the way.

Surely there’s some middle ground here? Some way to clear the growth from the road? It’s getting hard to be in business out here, and, more and more, it’s confusing government regulations that are choking the path.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:07 am

The Big Three networks devoted 17 times more coverage of “Bridgegate” in a single day than they did to the IRS scandal over 6 months. Gotta have your priorities, I guess.

Fix the media and you fix the country.

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