The Spiritual Cost of Regulation

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Some time ago, I commented on the enormous economic cost of  government regulation after I learned that the Small Business Administration estimated it to be $1.75 trillion per annum -- for federal regulations alone. But, in a recent column, John Stossel describes a much higher cost: America's distinctive spirit of innovation is beginning to disappear.

Here is a good summary of how this is happening:

The more government "protects" us, the more it puts obstacles in the way of trying new things. It does that every time it taxes, regulates and standardizes the way things are done. Simultaneously, government offers "compassion" -- welfare and unemployment benefits.

Faced with the choice of collecting unemployment or putting your own money at risk and hiring an army of lawyers to deal with business regulations, I understand why people don't bother trying. When that attitude is pervasive, the American dream dies. [ad links in original dropped]
This process has been going on for some time and is accelerating, as Mark Cuban, whom Stossel interviewed, indicates:
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban left school with no money and no job prospects. He managed to become a billionaire by creating several businesses from scratch. I asked him if he could do it again today, and he said, "No ... now there's so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful."
Perhaps the most striking thing about this column is that it starts out sounding so inspirational. Stossel provides several examples of successful Americans who failed numerous times along the way. Then he describes how the government is making it hard to pick oneself up and try again. I was saddened and angered by this turn -- and I hope many others will be, too. Realizing that we won't for long be able to take comfort in the once-inevitable success of our most energetic countrymen is  just the sort of wake-up call we need.

-- CAV

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