My article, "Is the American Dream Dead? Not If We Have Something To Say About It" received many responses that it is not dead, but is drowning in regulations, certifications and red tape. Many entrepreneurs and young college graduates looking to start their first business are finding that the "Land of Opportunity" is now the land of regulations, certifications and red tape! Just to get a new business started requires clearing a multitude of hurdles set up by local communities to "protect" its citizens and by special interest groups to protect their turf. As you look around, you start to see all types of roadblocks set up with the intention to protect the public welfare, but in fact are protecting the special interest of many other groups or businesses.
Regulations are rampant in every possible business you can imagine. Everyone wants to use Steve Jobs as an example for entrepreneurs and startups. But could Steve Jobs, under today's regulations, open an electronics business in his garage? Not likely. In San Francisco and all over the country they are stopping lemonade stands and Girl Scouts from selling cookies on their front lawns -- all based on protecting the health of the city or protecting someone's special interest.
James Bond, a SCORE counselor, Workshop Director for SCORE and President of U.S. Management, LLC sent in the following comments:
"I read how in Utah an African descendent woman was making some extra money braiding hair, and she got shut down. Cosmetology schools rallied cosmetologists throughout the state and gave students throughout the state the day off so they could go to the state capitol and speak to the legislature about why it is critical to human safety that braiding hair require a three-year cosmetology education... even though the programs do not even cover hair braiding.
And even if they did cover hair braiding, the idea that someone would need a three-year education (or anything) is preposterous. It's bullying by the powerful and organized against the lone citizen trying to make a living.
By inflicting strict permit requirements, competition is drastically reduced, harming the public. The reality is, the permitting process is how those with power block the little guy from competing. It's how they create and protect their monopoly.
And when you listen to the politicians who support this type of permitting, they are naive and fearful that voting against a powerful organized constituency could be the end of their political life. So instead of defending the little guy, they put shackles on the individual who simply wants to make a living."
Bond goes on to propose that it is the Federal Trade Commission that should step in and stop organized special interest groups from using state regulations to, in effect, establish a monopoly for them. The full article from Bond can be read on the LaunchAmerica.org website.
Trying to open a new business, particularly a restaurant, can be a nightmare requiring a variety of permits from different city departments that do not talk with each other. An inspector from the health department may approve a project, and then it could be shut down by a plumbing inspector, or any number of other agency inspectors that get involved in the name of public safety.
So here is number six on our list of policies for the conventions:
6. Provide business startups with project approvals that are coordinated through one city or government department that makes all the decisions with simplified policies based on the size of the project. And if the project does not create a proven public negative impact, it should not be restricted with regulations and certifications. Read the full list of Launch America Policies to be presented to President Obama at the Democratic National Convention and Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention.
If we become a country that is so overly regulated, we will take away the entrepreneurial spirit and the belief by our next generation, that they too, can live the American Dream.
Let us hear from you what innovative ideas and policies could be put in place to help Americans live their dream and make America the land of opportunity once more.