I've been at this for almost a decade, and over that time my Spider Sense for terrible editorializing has gotten pretty good. It's impossible to explain, but sometimes you look at a headline and author and you just know. So when I saw "Over-Regulation is Choking the Life Out of Business" by someone named Susan Brown ("op-ed columnist, motivational speaker, military family advocate and grief counselor") I had a powerful revelation. The Giant from Twin Peaks appeared to me in a vision and said "Ed, this is going to be based on an anecdote about her own failed business or that of an immediate family member." And when he talks, you listen.

So I honestly began this column by betting myself that I was about to read about Susan Brown's failed business (or that of a close relative) or I'd donate $5 to Santorum 2012. I don't want to give away too much, but suffice it to say that no financial transactions between Ed and Rick have occurred. Alright kids, I hope you're all ready to watch a no-name advice columnist fist logic. Let's roll!

I guess we were supposed to be encouraged last week when the regulator-in-chief pulled out his plastic preschool scissors while promising to cut the government down to size. "The government we have is not the government we need," Obama announced to a group of business owners at the White House on January 13, 2011. Obama promised he'd snip off a scant $3 billion over the next ten years — in exchange for just a little more power.

Meh. This generic tripe portends little more than Norquist-style "drown it in the bathtub" prattle about Big Government. I feel like this story needs some color, a personal touch to offset what I'm sure will be a vast amount of supporting data and research.

Given the increase in the size of government since Obama took office, he'll need an earth mover to make any real difference.

Well, it's no SDI or Medicare Part D, but I guess he did what he could. Lay off the guy for trying.

Next week he'll be selling snake oil in the Rose Garden to reduce the deficit.

Boy, Susan's writing skills are certainly leaping off the page, aren't they? Motivational, but also hilarious.

There are many areas in government to cut, chief among them are excessive regulations,

"Excessive regulations" isn't really a thing. When one talks about the size of government the reader naturally thinks about offices, agencies, departments, branches, or expenditures that might be proposed for elimination. What Susan has done instead is to leap from the size of government to a function of government. That's a poor idea in general, but certainly not aided by the total absence of specifics or examples.


Well this is embarrassing. I just googled it and it turns out that the Department of Excessive Regulations is a real thing. This is its main office building, located in Reston, VA:

regulations, which are choking the life out of small businesses in this country.

Uh, is it possible that small businesses could fail in this alternate reality for any reason other than Big Gub'mint? According to the Small Business Administration, more than 50% of small business startups fail in their first five years. Presumably for many reasons, the foremost of which is not Excessive Regulations.

Awhile back, my brother Pete decided to chase his version of the American dream.

*Runs victory lap*

God this is gonna be good.

He did his homework; purchased quality used equipment via the internet, and signed a lease – in hopes of opening a small mom and pop style yogurt shop near Charleston, SC. He's a smart businessman, who tries to calculate his decisions carefully.

Well, there you have it: according to this objective analysis, the author's brother is a business wizard. He is a Warren Buffet clone. If his brilliant idea – hopping on the trendy Frozen Yogurt shop fad – fails, it certainly could not be his fault. No mention of his previous business experience, which I'm sure is ample and littered with successes.

Nonetheless, it wasn't long before he found himself tangled in a web of regulatory red tape.

Then I guess he didn't do his homework, did he? For opening a small business, such homework would include things like figuring out what local regulations would have to be followed, what equipment/infrastructure would be required, and what licenses and permits are necessary. That's, like, the first thing you would do. If you weren't an idiot.

He was told he needed to purchase environmentally friendly grease trap equipment, although no frying is involved in serving non-fat yogurt.

Does this requirement by any chance apply to, uh, every single food service establishment in Charleston? I'm not familiar with the travails of the FroYo racket in Charleston, but I find it hard to believe that any of this was a surprise revealed only after he opened the business. Good research, bro!

It didn't stop there. Additional environmental requirements like the installation of specialized wastewater drains, and tens of thousands of dollars for more unessential equipment left him watching his hopes of the American dream go down the drain, along with any hopes of hiring new people should his business succeed.

OK. Couple things here. First, let's note that there are currently four dedicated frozen yogurt establishments in Charleston: FreshBerry, YoBe, Yogurt Mountain (!!!) and TCBY in addition to dozens of ice cream parlors that also serve frozen yogurt. This suggests that either the market is completely saturated or somehow these other restaurants manage to survive under the oppressive regulatory reign of terror. Maybe it's easier to succeed when the owner isn't a moron who doesn't figure out the overhead and startup costs in advance.

Upon further research, it doesn't look like the playing field is entirely fair. The author's brother was required to install "specialized wastewater drains" not required of any other business in Charleston. FreshBerry has no drains at all, YoBe funnels its liquid waste into a giant roof cistern clogged with dead pigeons, and Yogurt Mountain simply heaves its wastewater on the street one bucket at a time. My, he should sue.

My brother is not alone;

Time to generalize the living shit out of that ridiculous, unrepresentative anecdote! The plural of "anecdote" is "data" in the conservative mind. Although in fairness we don't even have multiple anecdotes here. Throw me a bone, Brownie.

his experience has become all too common in the Obama administration's new regulatory normal.

So the requirements of operating a restaurant in a given location are set…by…the…White House? Based on my limited contact with the bar and restaurant industry, the regulations are almost entirely city and county. Occasionally state.

South Carolina's Nikki Haley said it best when she recently told Fox News' Sean Hannity, "I need a partner in the White House." Haley claimed the hardest thing about her job had been the federal government intrusion into South Carolina's business. Though she was a Tea Party favorite, Haley endorsed presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Well this sure is irrelevant. Also, Haley is campaigning for the VP slot. That might be worth noting.

She said Romney promised to keep the federal government out of South Carolina's way, so it can create jobs.

You know that acquaintance who is a complete loser and blames all of his failures in life on "affirmative action", like he'd be a runaway success except that only women and minorities can succeed in this country? That's South Carolina. "We'd have super-low unemployment if only The Gub'mint would get out of our way!" Sure you would, Cletus. Sure you would. First in secession, last in everything else. Must be DC's fault.

My brother's experience, along with the Department of Labor's January 7, 2012 unemployment report showing an increase in unemployment by 24,000 over the last week makes it quite clear increased regulation is making matters worse.

An anecdote and a single week's unemployment numbers "makes it quite clear" that…there are too many regulations? I see better logic from freshmen. Not much better, granted, but better than this.

Over-regulation has turned the country once hailed as the Land of Opportunity into a place where opportunity only happens in your dreams.

Conclusion well justified by evidence presented. A+++

According to a July 25, 2011 Heritage Foundation article titled "Red Tape Rising: A 2011 Mid-Year Report," the Obama administration has enacted "75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion." Between October 1, 2010 and March 21, 2011, the administration completed 1827 "rulemaking proceedings," environmental and otherwise, some of which will directly affect private sector start-ups.

The Heritage report found that Obama has outdone his predecessors in that "no other president has burdened businesses and individuals with a higher number and larger cost of regulations in a comparable time period."

A few examples wouldn't hurt, or we could just take the Heritage Foundation's word for it. I mean, they're at LEAST as credible as the tale of Goober Brown's failed FroYo stand. I don't know why I assumed that her brother's name is Goober, but run with it.

And the worst is yet to come when you look at the job-killing, business-quelling regulations under Obamacare's 159 new government offices and programs, the EPA's seven new environmental regulations that will cost businesses $38 billion annually,

1. "Business-quelling"? Is "quelling" the word we want here, guys? This makes sense? OK, according to the editors of TownHall – a 19 year old summer intern from Patrick Henry University and one of Bill Kristol's unemployable kids – this great writing.

2. That same $38 billion figure appears in consecutive harangues. That's one hell of a coincidence, no?

3. Ooooh, scary numbers! Big Gub'mint! These are certainly hard times for the would-be owner of a novelty food service establishment. Hopefully Mitt can lead us back to the frozen yogurt boom years.

in addition to compliance costs of $100 billion, and the 2400-page Dodd-Frank bill the Harvard Business Law Review cites as "the most significant regulatory overhaul since the New Deal."

Yeah, I think the banking and financial industries have suffered from over-regulation for too long.

The cost of overregulation is compounding exponentially, and in the process, is destroying the Land of Opportunity, dream by dream.

Your brother has stupid dreams. Maybe he should be less of a retard and do some research next time he decides that his dream in life is to run a faddish, not to mention seasonal, business.

But don't just take my word for it, ask my brother.

His singular experience recounted in a burst of AM talk show quality anti-government invective would surely persuade all doubters. He sounds like a smart, reasonable person who could objectively evaluate his experience and come to a measured understanding of what went wrong.

This is my all time favorite right-wing logic. If your business fails, it's because there were too many regulations. If you can't afford the lifestyle to which you feel entitled, it's because your taxes are too high. It's never, ever your fault. Party of Personal Responsibility!tm Except when you fail; then it's not merely someone else's fault, but inevitably the government's fault.


  • Serves Goober right for starting a yogurt stand. Yogurt! That's almost as left-wing as latte and granola-bars. What's wrong with good ol' American ice cream?

  • Whatever. She's right. I tried to start a small nuclear power plant on an acre of land that I bought near my house so that I could supply unlimited cheap power to everyone in my neighborhood. Then, the government stepped in to stop me because they said that I couldn't just dump the water from the stream I was using to make steam back into the stream again once I was done using the liquid. What a bunch of bunk. Come on. If we lived in a free market society, everyone down stream would eventually realize that they needed to not only live upstream from my plant but would also need to tap into my great, cheap source of essentially free power. I'm doing the entire area a service for God's sake.

    I love it. This editorial was so ripe for the squashing. This one was too easy Ed. This guy tries to get into the business of serving a highly perishable product to the masses and is surprised by regulation. A true wunderkind of the T-Bagger variety fo' sho.'

  • My first job was at a frozen yogurt shop.

    The worst part about it? Having to clean all the grease and gunk from the back of those machines and emptying the — wait for it — grease trap.

    You don't need to be frying potatoes to make grease. Anything involving animal fat will do, fuckwit.

  • You finally become an adult when you realize that most other adults are completely full of shit. Great example here.

  • "Big Government"… What will incompetent small town losers blame things on if Grover Norquist ever gets his way?

  • I'd be interested in knowing when those regulations (the grease trap one) were first put in place… During Ronny Raygun's era?

    Two quick rules before opening a small business, how much competition is out there (too much in this case) & what are the regulations. I bet that "brother" did not even bother to get his buck from the BBB.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Also too did it ever occur to Wile E Brown, SUPER-Genius, that the used equipment he bought was on the market to be sold to suckers like him, precisely BECAUSE it no longer met regulatory minimums?

    Thank goodness Eisenhower had better planning skills than her brother, or we'd all be speaking German.

  • Where did this column appear, again? I think I missed a reference to the source. The Washington Times, perhaps, or what the hell, probably a chain news organization like Gannett.

    I was about to complain that sometimes Ed picks targets that are too easy, unworthy of him. But there's always something to take away, as for example:

    'Party of Personal Responsibility!tm Except when you fail; then it's not merely someone else's fault, but inevitably the government's fault."

    Yes! yes! there is a blame-someone-else pattern among reactionary TeaTards. Why does it sound so familiar? Oh yeah—they always claim to detect it among their mythologized welfare queens, overindulged slackers and lazy colored folk!

  • I won't dwell (rhymes with quell) on the idiot write and her brother. I am just so happy to see the FJM treatment!

    Who's a good boy? You are! *makes motorboat noise on belly*

  • John Gacy was a contractor and small businessman in in Chicago until all those government workers busted into his house, starting waiving around a bunch of legalese regulations and tore up his crawl space.
    His days as a job creator were done as soon as that happened!

  • Classic. Awesome. Well done.

    When she started talking about her brother's failed frozen yogurt shop, I began to feel the sneaking suspicion that it might be a put-on. I mean, frozen yogurt? Why not just open a razor scooter repair shop, or a beeper/pager store?

    But I think my favorite line would have to be: "She said Romney promised to keep the federal government out of South Carolina's way, so it can create jobs."

    OK, so, the FEDERAL government doesn't create jobs, but the STATE government does? That's certainly what she's implying – accidentally, I presume. Or hope. I guess.

  • This is the best. Business owners (actual business owners, that is) everywhere thank you for this! The vast majority of people who insist they know exactly what "small business owners need/want" are blustering know-nothings (in the general public as well as in the media).

    For quite some time now I've been challenging those who gripe about regulation in my presence to first identify their business (99% of the time they're someone else's cog) and then specify the regulation which did or is doing them harm. They simply don't understand business, the relevant regulatory environment, or (holy crap!) how the state, local and federal government differ.
    It's a conversation I live for.

  • "First in secession, last in everything else."

    After visiting Charleston's outdoor markets, I assume SC still leads the nation in ceramic coon figurines.

  • Oh, mercy. Nothing to contribute, but this was some funny, funny stuff. "Sure you would, Cletus. Sure you would."

  • Speaking of factoids and truthiness, is it even remotely true that Obama has greatly 'increased the size of government' OR expanded the public payrolls?

    Last I checked, the federal payroll had decreased under the last three Dem Presidents, yet expanded under the last few Repubs. And I'm sure it has decreased under Obama if you count the public payrolls (incl. state and local govt's).

  • I can't believe you FJM'd this article. I was actually trolling townhall yesterday and only read one or two articles, and this was one of them. It was so fucking terrible, and offered no "facts" to support her thesis that over regulation was the culprit for the lagging economy.

  • HA HA HA! Awesome!

    'The plural of "anecdote" is "data"' may be your best line ever composed on this site. So pithy!

  • Lack of big gub'mint socialism is hurting my business.

    I'd really like to quit my job, which finally came clean about the fact that we're expected to work something like 57 hours a week after just heavily implying it for over a year, and go back to being self-employed using the skills I borrowed over $100K to gain in grad school. But I can't.

    No health care.

    If only we had big gub'mint socialist health care, I could create a job for myself and free mine up for some other, um, intrepid person. But I have a couple of medical conditions I need to manage with ongoing medication, and had 3 ER visits last year for kidney stones, so not only am I crystal clear that my savings can't support me through both the lean times of starting my biz AND a possible medical crisis, no one would sell me private health insurance anyway, not for any dollar amount that is less than my monthly rent (and, you know, those school loans.)

    Which I know because I did my research.

  • Blaming others for your problems is literally as old as Adam "It was that woman you gave me, Lord." It doesn't seem to have a political label though Ds have worked the vein as hard and deep as anyone.

    Ms Brown has failed, but I think you are trying to make the induction that since she failed then her proposition (which I think we can generalize from 'regulation') – 'Government control causes more harm to business than it does good for everyone else.' also fails

    I think a Federal legislative example of unecessary harm is shown in:

    'A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn’t Exist'

    The case one way or the other is not going to be decided by 'anecdotal' evidence or one off citations.

    I think it is called 'proof by enumeration' that will be required to prove/disprove the proposition.


  • I always feel sorry for family members who say who knows what before the wingut translates into crazy.

    Yogurt Pete (venting out some steam): Business is so hard! I have these regulations to get pass and my vendors are sending me this inferior stuff-
    Susan: So the government is killing you with red tape!?!?!?
    Yogurt Pete: Well my biggest problem is the competition, the market might be over-saturated-
    Susan: DAMN YOU OBAMA!!!!

    After the business fails.

    Susan (just finished this article): Hey Pete, before I send this column to the printers you did research the yogurt business before you went in, right?
    Yogurt Pete: I did some basic things I guess. What column?
    Susan: 'kay. Thanks! (hangs up)
    Yogurt Pete: What just happen?

  • Let me guess, he opened the shop right around Thanksgiving and couldn't understand why business was so slooooooooooooooooow. Frozen yogurt, who doesn't love to eat it in the winter! Then when he had to throw in the towel and shut down in early March, it was all because of that damned government red tape. That's what made his sales so slow.

    Great read, Ed. It's only going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Joe the Plumber may be brought out of retirement for an encore gig.

  • The Obama killed my chances at being a brain surgeon. I was going to open a home surgery office but nooooooo… jackbooted Federal goons said I had to have job- killing licenses and permits and, get this, the Socialist in Chief mandates that I spend my hard earned money GETTING A DEGREE IN MEDICINE!
    And I was ready to employ up to two people, paying them $5.00 an hour to clean up the blood and bury medical waste in my neighbor's yard. But thanks to Obama's business quelling regulations, those people will have to forget their American dream of working a low- paying job for a complete moron.

  • Sounds like someone failed to do due dilligence. There is a problem with regulation, but fat chance of anyone fixing it, it's usually optimized for the most generous campaign contributors. What might help would be a program to have the simplest, most understandable paperwork possible, given regulatory requirements.

  • Erm….the Department of Excessive Regulation just happens to be the Pete V. Domenici Federal Courthouse in Albuquerque, NM. Imagine my surprise to see it in a post on Gin & Tacos…

    But….hilarious because the local Repugs were howling about a new wing of the university hospital being named for Bill Richardson–scandalized that a building built partly from taxpayer dollars was being named for a living politician, who enjoyed advertisement from that naming, blah, blah, blah, blah….all the while ignoring the Pete V. Domenici (who is still living and faked a brain illness to get out of congress before getting into deep shit) Department of Excessive Regulation just down the street.

  • Oh, and Ms. Brown is probably the person who is most disgusted when she hears her favorite restaurant is closed down due to health code violations.

  • johnsmith1882 says:

    the frogurt is also cursed.

    damn obama administration killed my home auto repair business cuz they won't let me pour motor oil in the sewer. jackboot thugs.

  • @mothra: She's probably the most outraged if a child contracts hepatitis or e. coli. Screaming that someone ought to do something! Probably tighten immigration because it would be the dirty Mex… Well you know white people have better hygiene standards see…

  • Well she's right, you know. Mrs. Lovett didn't have to deal with stupid regulations and her meat pie business really took off. No grease traps in that basement.

  • XjmuellerXjmueller says:

    I was wondering where the bldg really was.

    This ex-pat south sider now works in the Reston Va area and we have a lot of big gov bldgs nearby. I gotta say, The Dept of Excessive Regulation cracked me up.

  • I say let Ms. Brown's brother set up an unregulated froyo shop, as long as she agrees to only get her drinking water from where he dumps wastewater. Somehow, I doubt she'd be interested in that, since (as all good wingnuts know) pollution is for "those people" to deal with.

    Also too, kudos to her on sneaking a "stoopid n**ger" reference into the FIRST paragraph! Jefferson Davis would be so proud.

  • @Matt

    The prophet Ma-Ha-Rushie predicted this the week after the election in 2008.

    Every criticism from the Right of our President is forced into the racist or 'racialist' mode per the prophet.

    There warn't no plastics around when Jeff Davis was our President :-(


  • I was self-employed for 29 years.

    My experience is that people think that running your own business is easy. And since you're your own boss you can take off any time you want. Also the business will pay for all your personal expenses. And you can pay your employees in cash without reporting it. You may end up working for minimum wage even if you are "the boss".


    Also they think that since they are very interested in whatever they want to go into business doing, people will beat a path to their door. They don't check to see if there are already businesses in the area doing the same thing or if there is any call for a bait shop out in Death Valley. You may dream about bait, but it doesn't mean that you're going to be successful.

    As for regulation — pretty minor. You know what you're getting into. As for taxes — if you aren't making money you aren't paying taxes. If you're making money then you're profitable and then you pay taxes. Sales tax is added to your price and you pass it through to the state. If you're going to have employees you'll have to figure in the withholding. If you're not profitable anyway, having an employee isn't the reason that your business is failing.

    My biggest problem was healthcare. Taxes don't change much year to year. Healthcare was completely unpredictable except that you knew it was going to go up a lot. We would change carriers every two or three years and everyone would have to hope that their doctors were on the list.

    A business can be much more profitable if they don't have the anti-pollution and safety regulations, but that's only switching what should be your costs for cleaning up your mess to everybody else.

    I could create a lot of jobs by hiring people to dig big holes under their houses. The house will fall in the hole but hey you have a job. That's how I feel about that tar sand pipeline they're trying to shove down our throats. The externality expenses for cleanup and carbon dioxide global warming effect sure isn't being paid by the people who want to build the pipeline.

  • Because to a right-winger, Obama is to blame for everything bad that happens in the world. Before Obama, Clinton was. Before Clinton, Jimmy Carter. (Remember how GOPers were still blaming things on Jimmy Carter in 1992?)

  • I work in a restaurant in a small town that has been in business for nearly 20 years. It is "successful" by small town standards. It is "grandfathered" in so as not to have to meet current standards. Standards that in no way effect health or safety, but would cost thousands (tens of?)of dollars to meet. Our vent a hood for example is made of galvanized sheet metal and would, I believe, have to be stainless steel. Zero functional difference but lots more $. Our functioning (seviced and inspected anually) fire suppression system would have to be upgraded, never mind that we are a masonry structure with 14 foot high ceilings. Current code regulations are extremely expensive to meet and it takes a LOT of money to open a restaurant to present standards.
    This doesn't mean that people do not fail for lots of reasons, primarily NOT doing their homework (in a town of 3000 folks the restaurant business is kind of a zero sum game) and being way too undercapitalized. The statistics are that something like 60 to 70 percent of restaurants fail in the first three years.
    This is not an area where one can boot strap a business and have a realistic shot at making it and I am NOT defending this boob with the frogurt shop. But there is a LOT more regulation than there was less than 20 years ago ( established businesses are usually grandfathered in to previous levels of regulation) and while some of it is reasonable, some of it is not, as we operate in a clean, healthy, and safe way without the benefit of 18 years worth of upgrades.
    I have had conversations with the owner and he says catagorically that he would NOT be able to succeed if were to try to open a restaurant in todays environment nor would he be likely to remain in business if forced to upgrade to current codes. And this is not an absentee owner dropping by to pick up the daily receipts. He is the chef and there every hour the restaurant is open 5 days a week and his wife and daughters are the wait staff on weekends so his labor costs are cut to the bone.
    (Nobody here is blaming Obama or the feds except maybe for the retroactive wheel chair accessible thing a few years back, and I'm a leftie so this is not an anti government rant, just an alternative view, from, well the kitchen)
    PS. loved the victory lap.

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