05.20.2014 0

As regulators go postal on business, a slow-growth economy ensues

monopoly man bankrupt out of moneyBy Dave Cribbin

While the phony “war on women” rages in the headlines of the main stream media, the real war, the one being conducted against American Businesses by a slew of Government agencies, goes largely unreported. Crack economic writers place the blame for a flat 1st quarter 2014  GDP report on the   weatherman. Evidently the economy’s zero growth during the 1st quarter of 2014 had nothing to do with the fiscal or monetary policies promulgated by the Beltway Bunch, nor the zeal of their regulatory do-gooders.  Apparently the fault lies with global cooling. We Think differently! Who or what will get the blame if the 2nd quarter of 2014 disappoints? Perhaps they’ll continue the narrative and blame April showers?

The Country’s depressed economic growth is due to a climate problem: a business climate problem, where government agencies rain down an ever-increasing number of regulatory hoops for businesses to jump through. This regulation stifles the formation of  new companies and  pushes an increasing number of existing companies to the point where exiting the market place is their only option. It’s not the weatherman’s fault; the bad economic numbers are a result of a much too large government regulatory apparatus. When it comes to getting in the way of business, these guys literally wrote the book. The EPA,  the DOJ, and even the Postmaster General himself are in the business of making it tough on businesses.

The Department of Justice, through it’s operation Choke Point, is in the process of leaning on banks (that’s polite talk for intimidating banks)to close the bank accounts of LEGAL business’s that it doesn’t approve of. How do you run a business without a bank account? The short answer is you don’t. In the cross-hairs now are payday lenders who lend money to people that no one else will lend to. Another Social Scourge, sometimes referred to as dating services, are also under the gun. Is finding someone to go out to the movies on a Friday night really a problem that rises to the level where the Justice Department needs to get involved?  I wonder which legal business might run afoul of the DOJ’s sensibilities next?  Why not intimidate someone who deserves it, like the folks at the Veteran’s Administration who hide patient files instead of providing them with the medical services they need.

The Shock Troopers of the War on Business, however, are the kindly folks at the EPA, who want you to think they are the guardians of all that is pure and good, doing their best to save the fish, birds and  trees from the evils of people like you and me. In  2011, they issued regulations that will close thirty two coal-fired electric generating plants and possibly an additional thirty six more, costing thousands of Americans their jobs and lively-hood , not just in the generating business, but in all the businesses that support that industry as well. The EPA is now in the process of trying to add  the sage grouse to the Endangered Species Act, which will invite all kinds of governmental scrutiny to any land owner in the bird’s range. Not a big deal, you say?  If this bird is truly endangered, it is probably only found in a few isolated areas, right? Well, that depends on your definition of the words few and isolated.  Would  you consider Washington, Oregon, California,  Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota and Colorado a few isolated areas? This area is nearly the entire western United States. The possibilities for endless government meddling and decade-long permitting processes are countless.

Even the Post Office has played a role in stifling innovation and crushing start-up businesses. According to a GAO report in 2013, the Post Office was in desperate need of a more  innovative business model to remain sustainable and relevant in today’s digital world.  Evan Baehr and Will Davis, the owners of  Outbox, a successful start-up company from Austin, Texas had just that model . The Post Office would forward the mail of Outbox customers to an Outbox facility, where it would be opened, scanned with industrial scanners that Out box developed, and put online in each customer’s own virtual mail box. Customers could then review their mail online and determine which  pieces of mail they might want to have physically delivered to their home. Customers loved this service, which led to the growth of Outbox and the opening of another facility in San Francisco.  Their success was the subject of a news report on CNBC. Shortly after that report, Outbox was asked to come to Washington, DC and meet with the Postmaster General.

The Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, informed Evan and Will that the Post Office would never work with them, and despite what they might think, American Citizens were not the real customers of the Post Office. The real customers of the Post Office were, in fact, four hundred or so junk mailers.  The Chief of Digital Strategy for the Post Office then explained to Outbox that digital was only a fad!  The actions of the Postmaster typify the anti-business sentiment in Washington.  Not only do they not embrace new technology and innovation; as far as  you, the postal customer, are concerned, they could care less.

How does an economy grow and provide jobs and economic opportunity when the regulators think their real mission is to stand firmly in the way?  It Doesn’t.

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