The American Small business Owner; Endangered Species By Dawn Fotopulos It’s amazing the stories one hears when having brunch with friends who own a small business. “We have to do business with seven city agencies to keep our doors open” one retail store owner laments.
One agency wants the pipes behind dry wall, the other says the pipes have to be exposed. I get charged $1,500 per day in fines by whichever agency claims I’m violating their rules.
The rules are impossible. They conflict so no one can comply. The agencies don’t talk to each other. There’s not one person to mediate this insanity.
Forget about going through the courts. It’s not even just the cost, which is outrageous, but who has the time? As a small business owner, it’s my problem and it’s a no win.”
Another chimes in, “I own a restaurant. Every year, our premises are inspected. If we don’t have a current inspection certificate clearly displayed we can’t do business.
So last week we were inspected, we passed inspection and the certificate came in the mail. The date was wrong. It said the certificate was valid through 2012 and it’s 2014. My guess is it was a typo, but the bottom line is, they sent me a certificate that was essentially expired. I called up the agency to ask them to send me a valid certificate. They said they only generate certificates once a month. So what am I supposed to do in the meanwhile? Go outta business while these idiots figure out how to hit the back space on a computer?”
As Tim Askew of the blog Making Rain says, “Welcome to the brave new dystopia of the unaccountable and faceless governmental functionary”.
What is most disturbing about these stories is how commonplace they’ve become and how these faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats are summarily destroying the ability for small businesses to survive.
We all need to care because the small business owner is the engine of the US Economy and the source of new job creation. More regulation does not equal a fairer playing field. On the contrary; these stories and thousands like them paint a clear picture that unless we push back against destructive, meaningless regulations, the demise of small business is assured. We need to care because small businesses hold the quality of our daily lives in the palms of their hands.
Dentist, grocery stores, plumbers, contractors, repairmen, lawn service providers and baby sitters are all small businesses. We need them to survive and thrive.
Philip K. Howard in his book, The Rule of Nobody, nails the problem. He says “the Law has crowded out the ability to be practical and fair….[It has become] a government run by clerks and jerks.”
Years ago, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the Office of Small Business Services which I thought was a great idea. Its charter was to promote the fairness and flourishing of small businesses in New York City. Hallelujah someone in power recognized the importance of small business to the local economy, especially after how hard the New York City economy was beaten down after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
So here are the terms of that Bill of Rights for your reading pleasure.