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John Stossel
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Job Killers

Comment

Politicians say they "create jobs." In fact, only the private sector generates the information needed to create real, productive jobs.

Since this current post-recession job recovery is the slowest in 80 years, you'd think that even know-it-all politicians would want to sweep away the labyrinth of government regulations that hinders job creation. Successful job creators like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Staples founder Tom Stemberg tell me there are so many new rules and taxes today that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for them to create the thousands of jobs they once made.

The feds now have 160,000 pages of rules. Does anyone read all that? I doubt it. (Members of Congress don't read the bills they vote on.) Do the rules make life safer? No. A few new rules are useful, but most are not. Their sheer volume makes us less safe and less free.

In fact, the thick rulebooks help cheaters by giving them an indecipherable screen to hide behind. They also mislead consumers by giving them the illusion of protection. "I don't need to worry because regulation protects me." It's why some sophisticated people gave all their savings to Bernie Madoff.

A false sense of security is worse than none at all.

And the waste! Americans will spend $46 billion a year to obey just the new regulations the Obama administration imposed. Think of the money diverted to lawyers, accountants and "compliance officers" — money that might have created jobs and financed products that could make our lives better.

Alison Fraser, who keeps track of these things for the Heritage Foundation, points out that George W. Bush's administration was a big regulator, too. "President Bush ... had 28 major new rules passed in the first three years alone," said Fraser. "We've had a virtual explosion — almost a regulatory assault on our system of free enterprise and on our job creators."

The mainstream media portray Bush as a deregulator and blame his nonexistent deregulation for the housing and financial debacle. But the opposite is true. Bush hired thousands of new regulators. He only looks good in comparison to Obama — which is not saying much.

Advocates of regulations don't acknowledge the law of unintended consequences.

The Department of Energy demands energy-efficient appliances. But the extra cost deters some consumers from buying new appliances, so they stick with the old, wasteful ones.

On top of doing little good, endless rules kill the freedom that made America the land of opportunity. We preach entrepreneurship, and try to teach children the value, satisfaction and excitement of starting their own businesses. Then we let entrepreneurial opportunity be crushed under the weight of the regulatory state. The byzantine rules send this message to Americans: Don't try. Don't build anything. Don't innovate. Don't create anything new.

Let's not overlook the fact that big businesses often have no problem with this. They frequently benefit from complex regulation because it increases the chance that potential competition won't even get off the ground. Big business's hand has been behind the regulatory state at least back to the Progressive Era.

I could give you endless examples of small businesses crushed by big government. Here are two:

Shelly Goodman paid millions to buy a 13,000-square-foot mansion on 10 acres in Arizona in order to create a wedding reception center and bed-and-breakfast. Local bureaucrats forced her to spend thousands of dollars on studies to show that her business would not create burdensome traffic or noise. She did. The studies said it wouldn't. Yet the big house sits empty because her local government refuses to let her operate a business, even on her own property.

In Virginia, Greg Garrett started farming oysters. His neighborhood is zoned for livestock. He could raise buffalo, but local bureaucrats decreed that he could not sell oysters. Why not? My staff talked to the zoning official, and we still have no clue. That's the case with a lot of American law. It's arbitrary power. Regulations are so numerous and complex that no one really understands them. This diminishes our ability to flourish.

Big government makes us all small.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="http://www.johnstossel.com" <http://www.johnstossel.com>>johnstossel.com</a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
I sure HOPE we get some CHANGE in NOVEMBER!
Comment: #1
Posted by: 09FLHTP
Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:51 AM
I sure HOPE we get some CHANGE in NOVEMBER!
...even then, we'll have to stay on these goofs, Dem or Rep, to get this snarled mess straightened out and let us do our thing.
... don't tread on me, yo.
Comment: #2
Posted by: 09FLHTP
Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:53 AM
I would love for this to change. I recently contacted my county health department to find out the rules for starting a food truck (I think it is fondly called a roach coach) when I soon retire. The official told me it had to be attached (not physically) to a restaurant. I told him my reason for the food truck was to avoid the overhead from starting a restaurant. He reiterated that it had to be, by county statute, attached to a restaurant. In other words, the restauranteurs in town don't want competition.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Frank Ancona
Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:36 AM
In your latest piece you state, “We preach entrepreneurship, and try to teach children the value, satisfaction and excitement of starting their own businesses.” I don't think that we really do that. I wish we did. But the mantra I hear seems to be “get a job.” Or “find a job.” NOT, “create a job.” Or “make a job.” I am a public high school teacher and my students are told that they need to get a diploma to get a job and they need a college degree to get a better job, as if some school's document will automatically get them a career. I'm not really sure where a young person would be encouraged to truly be creative and innovative in their learning or application of their learning. Speaking of more regulations being “job killers” there are more rules and regulations in education too, more testing to gather more data to assess the “learning” of students and effectiveness of teachers, which in turn decreases the actual real learning in the classroom because everyone is concerned about test scores and data. More regulations, in my opinion, are also “learning killers” too.
Comment: #4
Posted by: TKWade
Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:55 PM
Re: Frank Ancona

The situation you discovered is actually not uncommon at all. A significant portion of the occupational regulations out there were put in place at the behest of major players in those industries, for precisely the reason you note.

Look at the tax code. Everyone hates it, liberal and conservative alike. Why does it keep getting more complicated every year, then, instead of being simplified? Because a whole bunch of tax accountants would be unemployed if it were simplified.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Mon Apr 2, 2012 3:21 AM
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