In the past, it was right and good that most Americans didn’t pay much attention to politicians. Americans didn’t have to pay attention to politics because government was small, a gentle hum of electricity in the background keeping things going while you went along with your daily business.
No more. And while we do hear about the sprawl of federal and occasionally state government, the rot is at the local level as well. The NYT published an article last week about the travails of an ice cream shop trying to open up in San Francisco.
Ms. Pries said it took two years to open the restaurant, due largely to the city’s morass of permits, procedures and approvals required to start a small business. While waiting for permission to operate, she still had to pay rent and other costs, going deeper into debt each passing month without knowing for sure if she would ever be allowed to open.
“It’s just a huge risk,” she said, noting that the financing came from family and friends, not a bank. “At several points you wonder if you should just walk away and take the loss.”
Ms. Pries said she had to endure months of runaround and pay a lawyer to determine whether her location (a former grocery, vacant for years) was eligible to become a restaurant. There were permit fees of $20,000; a demand that she create a detailed map of all existing area businesses (the city didn’t have one); and an $11,000 charge just to turn on the water.
Meanwhile, everyone wrings their hands about what can government do to help small businesses. An innovation program? Tax breaks? A new government office to help small businesses with paperwork?
I think the answer is obvious. Do you?