Big Burden, Little Burden


Leftist historian Gabriel Kolko provided evidentiary grist for libertarians with his 1963 book The Triumph of Conservatism, about how Progressive Era legislation was not so much government attempting to curb big business as it was big business attempting to consolidate its position against small competitors, who are less able to handle the costs of regulation. A new analysis of regulatory costs from the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis shows that regulations still disproportionately hit small business relative to big competitors. Study author Thomas Hopkins breaks down the per-employee costs of such regulatory areas as environmental and risk reduction, price and entry controls, and paperwork for the representative year 1992. Per-employee costs together are nearly twice as large for the smallest (less than 20 employees) firms as for those with over 500 employees.