Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Stifling the Economy
by James Glaser
June 11, 2010
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I started moving woodworking tools into my new shop. Yes, I am jumping the gun. It isn't finished, but the roof is on, and I have had worse places to work. The county building inspector will be out Monday to look at the rough-in for the electrical, and when he gives me the OK, I can start insulating and put whatever I want on the walls and ceiling. It is a shop, so I am putting on half inch CDX plywood.

This has nothing to do with North or South, as government has got their mitts into everything no matter where you live now. About 12 years ago, back in Minnesota, I took down a neighbor's house for them. They had built a new house, and the one I took down was their parents' home place. I took it down piece by piece, saving every thing I could reuse.

I built my shop with those used materials, and about the only things I needed to buy were the screws, nails, and the metal for the roof. As soon as I had the place closed in, I started working in it. Sure, a lot of things were not up to code, but that building will be there another 50 years. You put a good roof over any structure, and it will stay there a long time.

I know there are thousands, maybe millions of Americans who would like to go into business for themselves, but the initial start-up costs make it impossible. Even on your own land you can't put up a building you can afford. You have to put something up that the Government approves of. Here is the truth: I could run my whole shop with just two electrical outlets. One for whatever tool I am using at the time, and the other for a fan or a light. Yes, it is nice to have an outlet every few feet, and it is wonderful to be able to flip on a light when you walk in, but those are all added expenses that keep a lot of people working for corporations instead of starting out on their own.

Now I could understand the government jumping in if you were hiring other people—you know with OSHA laws and requirements and all, but I work by myself. Why can't I make some money before I start adding outlets and light fixtures?

There are car mechanics down here they call "shade tree mechanics." They call them that, because they don't have a building to work in. The best they can do is find a big old tree to work under. The county down here in Florida and the county in any state up North is not about to let you put up some sort of three sided shack so you can work rain or shine. Don't even think about putting up some sort of sign so people know you can do things for them, because every place in America has sign ordinances. Oh, and then they are going to require a sales tax number, and even if you do just a couple of jobs a year, they are going to fine you for not filing if you have no work and miss the filing date by even one day.

If you read this column very often, you know I am cynical. Well, get this. I think big business lobbies to get all these business rules and regulations in place to cut down on competition. Even if you are small potatoes, big corporations will take you to court if your business name or your logo has the slightest hint of looking our sounding like theirs. Big business doesn't want the little guy starting a business, because he or she could be big some day.

Another reason big business wants to make it hard for the little guy is they know the people with the gumption to start their own business have a little bit more on the ball, and they want those kind of people trapped on their assembly line or running one of their crews.

Yes, I know there are thousands and thousands of people in America working under the table, not charging or paying sales tax and not filing income tax on the extra money they make. It is hard to blame them though. They can't really jump over all the financial hurdles and paperwork hurdles to become legit, but they still like the thought of working for themselves even if it is just a few hours a week.

I believe most Americans would pay their fair share and follow all the rules if government would make it easy, but they don't. Americans are an independent group, and if they have to, they will cheat the system. When you take a hard look at the system, you can't really blame them. Government stifles the average American who wants to get something of their own going, and that in turn stifles our whole economy.

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