Narrator: Just about everyone knows that government
at every level is requiring more and more Americans to get a government issued license
before they can earn an honest living. In the 1950’s, well, only about 1 in 20 Americans
needed the government’s blessing to do their job. Today that number is more than 1 in
3 and government puts all kinds of requirements on would-be entrepreneurs making it harder for
these entrepreneurs to start and grow small businesses – entrepreneurs like Chuck here.
This is Chuck. Chuck hates his job, but Chuck has an idea.
Chuck: I’m going to fix computers
in my garage and sell them for low prices
Narrator: Uh, Chuck…
Chuck: My business will create new
jobs for my community… Narrator: Chuck ol’ boy
Chuck: …and give more young people access
to computers, and then once my business really gets going I can expand into a commercial space.
Narrator: You live in Milwaukee
Narrator: Actually, in Milwaukee starting a business in your home
means you can’t work in your garage, can’t have any employees, can’t have any signs,
and can’t take deliveries. Chuck: What?
Narrator: Unless you come up with the money for a
commercial lease right away you won’t be starting your business at all. Chuck: Well, if Milwaukee won’t have me I’m going
to start my business somewhere else. Narrator: That’s the spirit.
Chuck: What Los Angeles needs is
a good used bookstore.
Narrator: Actually, believe it or not, Los Angeles treats used book shops
like they were strip clubs or gun shops. You’ll need a permit from the police to operate. You have
to be fingerprinted. Anyone who sells you books may need to be fingerprinted,
too. For every book you buy you have to stamp it
with an individualized number that corresponds to a bill of sale that identifies the
book and who it came from. The police get to inspect those bills of sale and –
hold on – you’ll also have to hold books for at least
thirty days before you sell them just in case the police have any questions.
Chuck: But the First Amendment
to the Constitution protects my- Narrator: The First Amendment? Well, how quaint. And, you’re not planning on selling that copy of
the Constitution to anyone, are you Chuck? Chuck: Oh for Pete’s sake! Narrator: Balloon advertising?
Well, that’s an idea that’s on the rise. Maybe you’re onto something here, Chuck. But remember, Chuck,
entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who have ideas. Bureaucrats have them, too. -Here in Houston you’re only allowed to use balloons to sell cars,
or if you have a message that doesn’t sell anything at all. Chuck: That’s ridiculous.
-You’re right. All balloons now banned in Houston! Narrator: Maybe Houston isn’t ain’t your kind of place, Chuck. How about DC? Oh, want to be an interior designer, huh? Not too bad, not too bad at all. But in Washington DC you’ll need a license before
you can tell people where to put those paintings, pillows and planters. Chuck: But that doesn’t make any sense.
Narrator: Actually, that
makes a ton of cents, and dollars too. You see, existing interior designers lobbied
the city to make all new interior designers – but none of the current ones – take a test and
pay a bunch of money go into the interior design business. It’s a win-win for the industry and the government.
Interior designers get to keep out the competition, and government gets to make money. Don’t go ruining
a good thing by trying to lower prices for consumers now.
Now you’re talking, Chuck.
Miami, nice and sunny down there, valencia oranges and lots of tourists too. You want to be a street vendor, huh? Well you just need to get a little permission
slip from the city government ready Chuck? Let’s go here’s all you need: an occupational license from the City of Miami,
an occupational license from Miami-Dade County, a license from the Florida Department of Business
and Professional Regulation if you want to sell prepared food, or if you want to sell
pre-packaged food, a license from the Florida Department of Agriculture,
or if you want to sell gum another license from the City of Miami, the City of Miami tax certificate, a State
of Florida tax certificate, a certification from the Florida Department of Revenue that all
of your taxes have been paid, a copy of the current Florida Department of Motor
Vehicles registration for your cart, a license plate for your cart, a cart certification form
signed by 3 different bureaucrats in 3 different departments, $500,000 in insurance coverage for any bodily
injury or property damage caused by your vending. Got all your paperwork together Chuck?
Narrator: Great. Now you’re entitled to enter the street vendor
lottery. If you’re lucky enough to win you’ll be allowed to start your business. And the winner is… Oh, not you. Tough luck Chuck. This is still Chuck. He still hates his job, any ideas left,
guy? Chuck: I’m just going to sell the leftover stuff from
my computer business and go back to my old job. Narrator: Actually…
Chuck: What? Narrator: …if you want a close a business in Milwaukee
you’ll need a government issued license for That, too, and you’ll have to give the government
an itemized inventory every day of everything you’re selling. Sorry, guy, that’s just the
cost of doing business, or of going out of business.
Chuck: Oh, I just give up.
-Excellent. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go fix this
unemployment problem. Want to help people like Chuck? Visit
www.ij.org to learn more and support IJ’s work protecting economic