Regulating EVERY Dang Thing

I am doing as Will S asked at Patriactionary ….. propagating this video for others to see, and I am shamelessly coat tailing him by chiming in with a cyber hooyah. I have a few comments and a personal anecdote to share about this, one that is amazingly coincident to the story the representative shares in this video.

Like Will said, share this video, share it a lot.

I own a heavily regulated business, a Dry Cleaner. From my experience since starting the first location back in 1997, I can tell a story about regulation that will garner agreement from other business owners, and amazement from folks who have never waded into the small business arena.

It occurred to me a couple of years ago that few people, myself included (before I started the business), have any real idea how business really works. I was educated as a Chemical Engineer and spent the bulk of my career in the business side of chemical and plastics companies, buying raw materials or selling products. The chemical business could be the poster child for regulation and disinformation, but thats another story for another time.

When I started my own small business, I started having a clue about the business OF business. Despite being able to read P and L’s and balance sheets and understand the metrics by which major businesses measure their success (EBITDA etc), I was like lots of folks, knowing enough to carry my part of a general conversation, but not truly understanding a business and how it is affected by all sorts of things people wouldn’t even know about unless they have one of their own. And it isn’t just having a business, it is having employees, assets like property or vehicles or something, and being incorporated, because those things invite the full spectrum of potential red tape.

A good friend of mine demonstrated to me how people do not understand. He is an electrical engineer, smart guy, and was incredulous why I didn’t think Obama’s idea of tax rebates for hiring were a great idea. I had to show him on paper, I pay someone, say, $25k/year and get a $5k rebate on tax….well duh, I’m still out $20k dummy, and unless I actually NEED the employee I’d be an idiot to hire them. A program like that would not help add any jobs that would not already by added. heck i LOVE hiring, it mean business is great. And yet after that explanation he was still suspicious that there was some accounting loophole that actually made the idea golden.

they do not teach simple basic stuff like this even in business school.

I will offer a few more examples.

The chemical most dry cleaners use is called perchlorethylene. It is indeed a nasty chemical. It is also the single best dry cleaning solvent in existence. No one has invented anything better, there are others, but they do not clean well. Anyway, I risk a dissertation on dry cleaning….

Perc (as its known) is used in the washing process of dry cleaning. That means the cloths are actually washed in a liquid, the liquid is not water, hence the name dry cleaning. The perc is then distilled to pristine condition and used over and again, zero released into the atmosphere or drain. This means we but 200 gallons per year or so only. When I began the price was about $7/gallon. In the first 5 years Texas passed a law where they wanted to collect money to save for cleaning up perc spills made by irresponsible dry cleaners who did not carry environmental insurance for remediation. So, they taxed perc. The new price was $27/gallon, the tax was 20 on an item whose price is 7. More insane is this then encouraged us who carried special environmental insurance to drop it. Why pay for insurance when the state would clean up a mess if we made one. HUGE cost increase.

The second one is, I have a 20HP boiler, we use 125lb steam all over the plant for pressing. There is a federal boiler permit, a state permit, a county and a city permit…just because you own a boiler. It boild WATER. There is zero reason to tax a boiler, but they do. The fee from Texas is $50.00 per year. Not a big deal. One year I lost the bill or didnt receive it or something. I’d been running 9 years and had never missed a payment. I received a letter from the Texas dept of Environmental Quality saying I’d better pay the $50 by a certain date ……or…….you won’t believe this…..they would fine me $5000/DAY LATE. 
You read correctly, $5000/day on a $50/year fee. Stupid doesnt come close.

I had been in the Republican county apparatus as a precinct chair so I knew a state senator. I wrote to him and he reacted fast and “fixed” that stupid threat letter. But it was made and had been sent to countless people over years. Imagine, someone who cannot afford to pay the 5o bucks, would they be more frightened by a $20 fine, or a $5000/day fine? Its mind boggling, people would walk away and close the business.

I pay fees for the privilege of having a sign on the building (sign fee), for having a fire extinguisher (fire extinguisher fee) and having it is required by the fire Marshall to who I also pay a fee. I pay a fee for having a dumpster (to the govt, this is in addition to the private company who picks up the trash and owns the thing), an sir quality fee and a lint trap fee, and finally a burglar alarm fee to the police dept. Its about $7000/year in fees. I have to track every spoonful of perc and complete pages of reports each year about it. I also have to pay an annual “registration fee” to the Texas environmental dept. to get a permit that allows me to buy the perc.

To the video…… We bought land and built a building for this business. It is free standing 3000 Ft sq building, not in a strip mall and we had to get a certificate of occupancy, same as that ball park he talked about. When we built the restrooms, they were for employees only, they are way in the back. Its not possible someone in a wheelchair could work there, and thankfully at least we didnt have to adapt our process to that. In any case the restroom still had to be fully ADA compliant.

The inspector came and found two things. The toilet paper holder was too close to the wall behind the toilet, and, the mirrors over the sinks were too high. We moved the TP hangers, but the mirrors were resting against the top of the sink back splash. So, I prepared to have the sinks lowered and the guy said no, you cannot, a wheelchair will not fit under it then. So, the regs were not workable and the guy walked away saying it was my problem. I called him back with the brainstorm of putting the mirrors on the inside of the doors. he did not immediately agree saying oh no that was a new idea that needed higher approval. Well, finally they agreed and I added mirrors to the doors and all was OK. It wasted about a week, during which I was paying interest on the construction loan. It cost real money, it frustrated a stressful process even more, and it taught me a lot about government and business.

Now, after the crisis the business is about break even, yet the march for more fees and permits continues, and they will take away your sales tax permit in a second if you blink. My business has been good over the years and we have operated it responsibly. We have been good financial stewards and have paid A LOT of money to the government, state local and federal. Ive asked them how that works….they shut a business down because they are late paying a fee, this business may have paid tens of thousands in taxes and fees over the year, and the state is fine to shut it down and get their fifty or hundred bucks from the liquidation……then nothing, ever again.

Yep, they are OK with that.

The representative in the video is explaining something that, though he claims its not a left/right issue, it actually is at least ideologically. Oh sure the parties love writing laws in DC, both parties. But this tendency to want ever more written micromanagement, attempting to make our lives like The Game of Life where we respond exactly like a board game, is insanity.

Finally, women tend to like regulations and rules. We see that from marriage, to church committees, to women in companies , to women in government. On this there indeed are a bunch of men right along beside them. Sadly, we will never fix this, so, be sure and regulate your lives and live your lives by the regulations. Some one thinks its better that way

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8 thoughts on “Regulating EVERY Dang Thing

  1. Hey Empath, it actually was the original poster that encouraged the spreading of the word, and sharing of the vid, but I fully concur with him, too, absolutely, so you’re still right. 🙂

    Big government is killing freedom everywhere, and suffocating the peoples who live under it.

    And yes, the nanny state impulse is indeed fundamentally a female-driven one; I remember years back, at National Review, Florence King remarking that liberalism is feminine, while conservatism is masculine; Camille Paglia has argued as much, and said that if civilization had been left to women, we’d still be living in grass huts, albeit with tasteful curtains. 😉

  2. Empath, I think the problem lies in the fact that the folks who work in the public sector have, almost never, held down a job in a small business. LIke you, I am a small business owner, but in the UK. Even worse, when I was a student, I dated a trainee environmental health inspector, so I have no excuse for not knowing what to expect. In the UK, Environmental Health is repsonsible for ensuring compliance with building regulations and for compliance with food hygiene regulations. First Christmas, the whole EH dept. is going out to a loal restaurant for their deprtment Christmas lunch, except for the boss, in whose name a prosecution was being issued.

    Being the naive lad I was I asked, “Why are you going to this restauant if its food hygiene is so bad that you have to prosecute?”

    “Oh, the breaches aren’t serious.”

    “If they are serious enough to prosecute, should you really be eating there?”

    “The breaches were technical, they won’t cause any problems with the food.”

    “So why not simply issue a warning and an instruction? After all, you’ve just said that there was no risk from the food.”

    “Oh, we’ve got to prosecute so that the restauanteurs know who is boss.”

    This girl was pretty normal when she started, but by the time she entered her final year and we split up, she had the local government officer’s attitude problem of dealing with all questions with an attitude that said more eloquently than any words, “What do you mean, ‘Why?’ I said so.”

    Planning officers are just as bad. And we have a scandal brewing in this country with social workers being caught out committing perjury in family courts as highlighted by Christopher Booker in the Telegraph almost every week.

  3. The same thing applies to education. Remember when kids could play floor hockey, and the beautiful thing was that it was cheap and you could play it casually? Not anymore. Schools require that any sport where you MIGHT hit your head and get a concussion or split your scalp or get whatever injury requires a helmet. This means that my church is not even allowed to let kids play dodgeball because we can’t afford helmets. And people are hypnotized into believing this is about safety when in fact it is about power and control which used emotional appeals about childrens’ safety to get that control.

    Feminism is a weapon. If anyone’s interested I will sometime present a historical breakdown of how it has been used as one to establish greater control over people. It’s a very clever weapon because the desire to protect women and children is a deeply ingrained one on many levels, and therefore it is in a sense a very easy weapon to use.

  4. Today we had a young guest preacher. He repeated a mantra that was of this nature saying “those who are at the mercy of others require our mercy”….it was a social justice pitch in disguise.

  5. My employer has a small operation in Manningtree, near to Ipswich. When I visit there its a running joke “is Health and Safety on site?” because once when they were I was subject to an absurd amount more rules to wear orange vests and such even to go to my car from the office and get something.

  6. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Early August Edition « Patriactionary

  7. Are we getting seriously getting political!? If you hire someone, how come it’s a problem to cover the person instead of looking for a tax break over 20%.

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