America was once considered the land of opportunity, home of the American Dream - where the entrepreneurial spirit thrives. But is all that a thing of past?
Now, it seems, a ridiculous bureaucracy has people jumping through hoops to start a business and forcing entrepreneurs to do useless things for no logical reason.
Tonia Edwards and Bill Main own Segs in the City in the heart of Washington, D.C. They guide their customers on tours through the nation’s capitol via Segway. They have a business license, but what they’re doing is illegal. Because they don’t have a license to speak to tourists.
“We can be sent to jail for 90 days for not having a license,” said Main. But he believes he shouldn’t need a license to talk to people.
“It's a breach of the First Amendment of the Constitution,” he said.
And they’re not alone in fighting government bureaucracy to keep their business afloat. Want to become a florist in New Orleans? You must pass a test that some say is more difficult than the bar exam to become a lawyer.
“It’s a completely subjective test that was evaluated by other florists who you were going to be competing against,” said Dan Alban, an attorney at Institute for Justice.
Or if you want to build a funeral home in Saint Paul, Minnesota? The government mandates that businesses spend 30,000 dollars on a useless embalming room even if the business doesn't need it and doesn't plan on using it.
These are just a few of the many occupational licensing cases the Institute for Justice says they are fighting against.
”We're talking about the right to economic liberty here. This is the right of someone to earn an honest living in an occupation of their own choosing,” said Alban.
How are these laws able to get enacted? Lobbyists and special interest groups infiltrate politics on the federal and local level. They urge lawmakers to pass regulations that benefit them, and keep the competition out. The result: an America growing increasingly regulated. According to the Institute of Justice, in the 1950’s 1 in 20 occupations required a government permit. Today it’s one in three. And all this red tape is costing taxpayers billions.
A report from the Government Accountability Office shows billions of dollars spent on bureaucratic waste in the federal government.
All the while, President Obama vows to fight unemployment by creating new jobs.
“Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple. Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed,” President Obama said in his 2012 State of the Union speech.
But what the government needs to do, say many business owners, is get rid of all the red tape that’s creating hurdles to reaching economic success. It may be too much regulation that’s choking the life out the U.S. economy.