US Once a Great Entrepreneurial Nation, Not Any More

Russ Steele

I watched John Stossel’s Foxnews special everything is illegal. One of  his examples was an attempt to open a lemonade stand in New York, after the police shut down a Midway GA, 14 year and her 10 year old sisters lemonade stand and closed up children selling Girl Scout Cookies in Hazelwood , IL.

Stossel found that children trying their first experiments with entrepreneurship were being shut down all over America. He writes at Real Clear Politics:

It made me want to try to jump through the legal hoops required to open a simple lemonade stand in New York City. Here’s some of what one has to do:

— 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.

I sold lemonade anyway. I looked dumb hawking it with my giant fire extinguisher on the table.

ooo

Politicians say, “We support entrepreneurs,” but the bureaucrats make it hard. The Feds alone add 80,000 pages of new rules every year. Local governments add more. There are so many incomprehensible rules that even the bureaucrats can’t tell you what’s legal. In the name of public safety, politicians strangle opportunity. 

When is it is easier to apply for government welfare than it is to open a business, we are in trouble as a nation.

H/T to regular reader for pointing to a print version of this story.

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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