Regulating Away the American Dream

Government mostly hinders us, and then brags that it is waiting to take charge when we fail.

National Archives and Records AdministrationNational Archives and Records AdministrationDid you know that I started Facebook? Really! Well, sort of... 

When I was in college at all-male Princeton, I tried to make money by adding photos to a snarky guide to neighboring girls' schools. The guide had been a profitable publishing success, and my idea was simply to add the girls' pictures. Schools like Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, etc., already published those pictures, so all I had to do was get permission from administrators at those schools. Surprisingly, they gave it to me. 

Unfortunately for me and my "Face Book," there was no Internet then. So I don't own a company worth $180 billion. The book, Who the Girls Are, was a flop. 

Oh, well. I've started other businesses since then—and they didn't succeed either. 

But that ability to try to succeed is a reason America has been successful. In the USA, it's OK to fail and fail and try again. In most of Europe and much of the world, the attitude is: You had your shot, you failed, and now you should just go work for someone else.

But this limits the possibilities. And some of America's biggest successes came from people who failed often. 

We know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but few people know that Edison filed 1,000 patents for ideas that went nowhere. He was fired by the telegraph office. He lost money investing in a cement company and an iron business. 

Henry Ford's first company failed completely. Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by 27 publishers. Oprah was fired from her first job as a reporter. A TV station called her "unfit for TV." 

But they all kept striving—and succeeded. They were lucky to live in America, where investors and your neighbors encourage you to try and try again. We are lucky to benefit from their persistence.

But those happy experiments are less likely to happen today. Now there are many more rules, and regulators add hundreds of pages of new ones every week.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban left school with no money and no job prospects. He managed to become a billionaire by creating several businesses from scratch. I asked him if he could do it again today, and he said, "No ... now there's so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful."

That's tragic.

It's not just big corporations that get hassled by regulators, the way progressives might like to imagine. Kids' lemonade stands—and one I tried to open in New York City—are sometimes shut down for not having proper business licenses. When Chloe Stirling was 11 years old, health officials shut down her home cupcake-making business

The more government "protects" us, the more it puts obstacles in the way of trying new things. It does that every time it taxes, regulates, and standardizes the way things are done. Simultaneously, government offers "compassion"—welfare and unemployment benefits.

Faced with the choice of collecting unemployment or putting your own money at risk and hiring an army of lawyers to deal with business regulations, I understand why people don't bother trying. When that attitude is pervasive, the American dream dies.

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  • anon||

    Damn, I like Stossel.

  • Free Society||

    There's an anarcho-capitalist just waiting to come out.

  • anon||

    "Just tell them to shut Washington down. That's all they need to do!"

    But then what would all those busybodies in DC do? Find a job?

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH I crack me up.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Simple simon met a pie man going to the fair

    That basically sums ups tossed and all the stooges that say this crap.

    I agree that we have too much regulation that was put in place BY INDUSTRY ITSELF.

    The government is completely manipulated by industry and not the other way around.

  • anon||

    The government is completely manipulated by industry and not the other way around.

    The government owns and has too much control on industry.

    Which one is it, moron?

  • Jordan||

    Watching progderps try and reconcile their cognitive dissonance is so entertaining.

  • anon||

    I've thought about it a minute now, and I've come to a conclusion. It's impossible to hold these two beliefs and not be retarded.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    How about insane?

  • anon||

    Meh, insanity indicates a modicum of intelligence, so I'd need more evidence.

  • WTF||

    I agree that we have too much regulation that was put in place BY INDUSTRY ITSELF

    No, dumbass, industry may lobby for competition-stifling regulations, but the regulations are put in place by the government.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Industry bribes and puts people into the government to do their deed.

  • NealAppeal||

    So why give the government the power to regulate? You can't grasp the chicken or egg? If government was never given the manpower/money/guns they couldn't spend time stifling startups and doing 'lobbied interests' bidding. But no! We need more government to fight KKKORPORASHUNNNZ!!!1!

  • Free Society||

    So economic freedom corrupts politics is your argument?

    Why do you suppose government officials are bribed? Perhaps it's because they have power which allows them to rent out the use of that power? Businesses can't force a monopoly on the market without men with guns. But don't let that stop you from supporting more and more government power.

  • Brian||

    Industry bribes and puts people into the government to do their deed.

    Hey, Alice: how's that work in the financial industry going?

  • Alice Bowie||

    I haven't had a minute to breath today.

    I drove in from upstate in this rain and it took three hrs today.

  • Brian||

    I'm glad you found the time to go full derp.

  • sarcasmic||

    Which is why the government needs more power - so it can control the corporations that control it.

    And if afterwards the corporations still control the government, it's only because we didn't give government enough power to control the corporations that control it.

    And if afterwards the corporations still control the government, it's only because we didn't give government enough power to control the corporations that control it.

    And if afterwards the corporations still control the government, it's only because we didn't give government enough power to control the corporations that control it.

    And if afterwards the corporations still control the government, it's only because we didn't give government enough power to control the corporations that control it.

    And if afterwards the corporations still control the government, it's only because we didn't give government enough power to control the corporations that control it.

    And if afterwards the corporations still control the government, it's only because we didn't give government enough power to control the corporations that control it.

    .
    .
    .

  • anon||

    I envisioned this as every schoolkid in Government Education Camp writing this on the chalkboard ala Bart Simpson.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I see a pattern developing.

  • Bean Counter||

    It's turtles all the way down.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    Whomever devised the regulation is essentially irrelevant.

    The government ENFORCES the regulation. They are the party with the blood on their hands (sometimes literally).

  • Free Society||

    The government is completely manipulated by industry and not the other way around.

    Who has the men with guns?

  • Will4Freedom||

    Alice Bowie,

    Cute how you mixed Alice Cooper and David Bowie. I imagine you a mid to late 50's dude.... maybe a cross dresser. No offense intended. I just try to put a face to folks based on their screen name and comments and that's what pictured for you.

    I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt when I first saw your posts a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't sure if you had recently become interested in politics and were checking out Libertarians to see what they're about.... or if you were a DWEEBO (Democrat With Eye Blinders On) and will not even listen to logical argument which differs from your opinion.

    I'm thinking more and more your the troll type. You don't so much engage in the conversation and ask good questions, you more just muddy the waters or stir up the hornets nest with affirmative comments that are meant to invoke some flurry of responses.

    So why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you hope to gain from reading the "reason" posts and comments?

    I'll even go first. Short, Old and Grumpy. I'm not a Libertarian, nor do I play one on TV. But I sure do like most of what they stand for. I'm not a Repub or Conservative either. I come here for mostly logical explanations of why they believe what they do. And mostly civil comments, although there's some pretty brutal arguments sometimes. Nothing like the vile on Newsvine or racism on The Blaze.

    Now you.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I hate regulations and the government.

    The government owns and has too much control on industry.

    Stops self is a stooge.

  • Paul.||

    *squints*

  • WTF||

    Stops self is a stooge.

    English, motherfucker, do you speak it?

  • Brandon||

    I assume he/she thinks this is a clever slur for Stossel.

  • anon||

    What kind of mental gymnastics are necessary to put -that- together?

    I really did not make that connection, but now I'm curious.

  • Brandon||

    It kind of makes me sad that I understood the intent.

  • Brian||

    Actually, I think that's quite a skill.

    You're the new derp translator. We delegate to you the task of comprehending and replying to all the derp, on behalf of (practically) all of us.

  • Loki||

    What?

  • Jordan||

    The simple fact is that regulatory costs make it impossibly expensive for the vast majority of people in this country to start their own business. I always ask self-professed champions of the poor if they're okay with that. They usually just sputter in rage.

  • anon||

    Of course. Because those evil RICH SHEEPLE and KORPORASHUNZ don't pay their FAIR SHARE. We know that because they're still rich.

  • John||

    And women too. They are champions of women but do everything they can to make it impossible to start a small business. Most small businesses are started by women and running a small business can be a very good choice for women who want to work from home and raise their kids.

  • anon||

    Most small businesses are started by women and running a small business can be a very good choice for women

    I was going to argue that I can't know what a good choice for "women" is, but decided not to mostly because it's a red herring.

  • John||

    It is not a red herring. It is holding them to their own standards and using their own concepts against them. Sure you and I don't think policies should be judged on which one is better for women but many Progs certainly do.

    Showing how they fail by their own standards is being neither hypocritical nor making a red herring argument.

  • anon||

    Still, I'm repulsed by the idea of someone "knowing" what a "good choice" for anyone else is.

  • John||

    Is not shooting heroin and beating my wife a "good choice" for me? I am going to go out on a limb here and say yes and also say you would be on solid grounds for saying so.

    Just because you can't judge every situation doesn't mean you can't make generalized statements that are true in the macro if not in every case. Running a business from home is a good choice for a lot of women who have kids. Saying that doesn't mean or imply it is the right choice for every woman.

  • anon||

    Is not shooting heroin and beating my wife a "good choice" for me? I am going to go out on a limb here and say yes

    If shooting heroin stops you from beating your wife, I'd think your wife would vote yes on the heroin issue.

  • John||

    True. But that means doing one is a good choice not both. You can make some judgements.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I think anon is just articulating the view, commonly found in Austrian economics, that value is inherently a subjective thing, one person's trash is another's invaluable masterpiece, and that is why we should never restrict someone on the idea that what they want is actually bad for them. But you are talking about removing restrictions so I don't think you and he disagree.

  • anon||

    We aren't disagreeing, and you (and John) both understand what I'm saying, I'm just debating the point from a moral perspective.

  • John||

    Just because value is subjective doesn't mean you can't make statements about how people in the aggregate value something or that some of a group of people value something.

    Sure, how valuable staying at home when you have a kid is subjective. That doesn't mean that you can't truthfully state the fact that "many people value such".

    Saying something is "generally" or "often true" is not the same thing as saying it "must be" or "is always" true.

  • anon||

    Saying something is "generally" or "often true" is not the same thing as saying it "must be" or "is always" true.

    Yeah, my qualm is more that The Powers That Be often extend on that premise:

    "If X is usually good, then we should promote X and discourage Y."

    It's that extension that I find reprehensible.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Do you really want to live in a society that allows unlicensed hair braiders? I think not.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Of course, poor people are not supposed to start businesses, they are supposed to get government checks. And those checks have to be administered to them by government employees, of course.

  • anon||

    Think of all those jobs that'd be lost without those government employees stealing money from productive citizens to administer checks to unproductive ones!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It's downright stimulative!

  • Jordan||

    I've gotten serious responses that were eerily similar to this.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This administration and its supporters make this argument all the time. It is what is behind the whole 'the sequester is bad because those government employees get laid off and furloughed and can not spend money at the local store!'

  • ||

    It's broken windows and multipliers all the way down.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Who the Girls Are

    Stossel: Ground-Breaking Pioneer of Creepy Internet Stalking.

    Who knew?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    With a moustache like that...

  • ||

    It's not exactly a shocker.

  • WTF||

    Yeah, the porn-stache explained.

  • GroundTruth||

    This all leads to a society in which innovators will just start disregarding government and set up a parallel economy; essentially going galt because there is no other way to live as humans.

    The real trick will be communication and exchange within that economy while staying out of the regulator's field of view, but I think that the best within us will be able to solve that.

  • anon||

    This all leads to a society in which innovators will just start disregarding government and set up a parallel economy;

    You're a little behind times on that one; pretty much everyone I deal with has already gone this route. The exchange is "cash only."

  • Alice Bowie||

    Cash will ultimately be eliminate in the name of anti fraud and anti tax evasion.

    People will barter but it will be pretty difficult to set up a criminal enterprise without cash.

    Bit coin will be know as the place for money laundering terrorism and drug trafficking and will be risky to use.

  • anon||

    I get the feeling you're one of those indian call center dudes hired by the Obama admin to post this drivel on every forum you can find.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Hold on I will put on phone supervisor

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    Is H&R plugged in and on?

    Try refreshing the thread?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I think AB did too much LDS in the 60s.

  • WTF||

    AB fucks Mormons?

  • Ivan Pike||

    Cash will ultimately be eliminate in the name of anti fraud and anti tax evasion.

    People will barter but it will be pretty difficult to set up a criminal enterprise without cash.

    Then people will choose something else for cash, like Tide. And a cash only business is not necessarily a criminal enterprise.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    "Then people will choose something else for cash, like Tide."

    Money laundering?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I see what you...

    Shit!

    *shakes head, walks away in disgust*

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    Muhuhuhuwha!

  • John||

    Think trading cigarettes in prison, which sadly becomes a less strained analogy every day.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    You can't have cigarettes in prisons, second hand smoke is an 8th Amendment violation!

  • John||

    You actually can't, which is really cruel and unusual when you think about it. But you used to and when you could they were currency for people who were not allowed to have cash.

  • Christophe||

    Nowadays they use mackerel. No kidding.
    http://www.wired.com/2011/01/st_prisoncurrencies/

  • Loki||

    a cash only business is not necessarily a criminal enterprise.

    It is if you're a prog-tard.

  • Tim||

    Somebody should fire Stossel, to make him better.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Have I...

    Oh, nevermind. You know.

  • Rich||

    What? "Died and gone to Heaven"?

  • anon||

    fallen and can't get up?

  • Rich||

    "But one life to give for my country"?

    Come on, Francisco, don't leave us in suspense!

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    brass knuckles?

  • Derpetologist||

    Today on Derpbook: a prog comments on Tacitus


    "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." -Tacitus

    As discussed briefly yesterday, the SMALLER the government the more easily corruptable it becomes for a lot less money. It seems nearly every medium sized city and even small towns have some level of corruption. Some mayor's son/brother/nephew/cousin getting some sweet deal contract, a judge pulling strings for a family friend, cops taking $1000 bribes to leave the local brothel/meth lab alone. Absolute power corrupts absolutely as they say. Of course we see this in every level of government, but it really isn't until you get up to the top levels of government where we see the correlation of laws and corruption. More often than not those laws are crafted and bought by mega corporations that are exempt from said laws in an attempt to create an absolute monopoly. Big agra/pharma/oil/wall street/etc. Buying legislators and passing legislation to rub out their competition and overburden them with regulations that the themselves are exempt from. The answer in all of this of course, is getting money out of politics, and stop equating money to speech.
  • anon||

    As discussed briefly yesterday, the SMALLER the government the more easily corruptable it becomes for a lot less money.

    I could read no further. The rage is about to overflow.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    "Chicago"

    "Detroit"

  • KDN||

    Hell, you can expand it to other countries. Find the correlation between Transparency International's corruption perception index and the "size of government" rankings from the Heritage and Fraser foundation's economic freedom indices or government spending as a percentage of GDP.

    Cuba's probably the lone outlier there (very large government, supposedly low corruption), but I have difficulty believing the CPI surveys were taken by anybody but closely watched party hacks.

  • John||

    Tacitus had many great quotes. One of his best and indeed one of the best quips ever put to pen is

    Formerly we suffered from crimes. Today we suffer from laws.

  • Rich||

    The answer in all of this of course, is getting money out of politics

    *** meekly raises hand ***

    Would it be OK to get politics out of money?

  • John||

    +100. Of course what he is really saying is "The answer of course is to get people's opinions and interests out of politics" because that is all money is. Liberals hate money in politics because it allows people to express their views and interests in the system instead of shutting up and being ruled by the enlightened elite.

  • Free Society||

    Liberals hate money in politics because they are taught to hate it by way of the logical fallacies they've been indoctrinated with.

    Sure there may be plenty of political laymen who would favor a sort of technocratic despotism, but this is what they've been taught. Liberals are people like you and me, only they're really stupid. The small amount of proggy elites who want power for it's own sake, have cultivated that stupidity to their advantage.

  • Loki||

    Liberals hate money in politics because it allows people to express their views and interests in the system.

    They hate the wrong kind of money/ viewpoints in politics. I don't see too many progtards complaining when unions, envrionmental advocacy groups, Soros/ Buffett, or other left wing groups write big fat checks to progtard pols that they support.

  • Will4Freedom||

    Agree. If they hated money in politics, Obama would not spend SOOOooo much of his time at "fund raisers".

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Huh? The smaller the government the more easily corruptable [sic], but on the other hand it really isn't until you get to the top levels of government that we see the really bad corruption?

  • Rich||

    "And stop equating logic to speech!"

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It's like he composed that paragraph by pulling random words and phrases out of a hat.

  • Derpetologist||

    This was one of his more coherent pieces.
    Usually, it's borderline word salad.

  • Loki||

    I'm pretty sure it was written by manatees.

  • John||

    Of course we see this in every level of government, but it really isn't until you get up to the top levels of government where we see the correlation of laws and corruption.

    Yeah, that is totally true. I mean corruption is unheard of in city governments in places like Chicago and Detroit. And that whole corrupt small town sheriff who hates hippies and brown people is just a myth. It never happened. Jim Crow was a national level issue.

    It is amazing what these people tell themselves.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    damn you! Should have scrolled down.

  • Derpetologist||

    It is amazing how many people cannot understand that:

    1) money and power always find each other

    2) force attracts men of low character

  • mr simple||

    I think he hit just about every talking point. It's too bad he can't see where this leads.

  • Loki||

    "You guys always bring me the very best violence derp." - Mr. Universe

  • rudehost||

    "The answer in all of this of course, is getting money out of politics"

    The answer in all of this of course, is getting money out of GOVERNMENT

    There fixed it for you.

  • steedamike||

    "We know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb"

    Not really relevant to the article but...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Swan
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_bulb#History

  • keithp||

    It is not only federal government but also state and local governments that stifle business. In Ohio we have totally unnecessary regulation of Ohio wineries as food processors. www.FreeTheWineries.com

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