The secret sauce of America’s success—the most successful nation in history– is human initiative. When Americans wake up, they know they can use all their energy, ingenuity, instincts, and tolerance for risk to get things done. Reliable law and regulation provides a level platform for individuals to follow their star.
Because our free society is supposed to encourage human initiative, it is really stupid that government keeps piling on rules and laws without regard for the burdens and barriers to individual initiative.
The US now ranks 49th in the world in ease of starting a business. Opening a restaurant in NYC requires permits from 11 different agencies. Firing a worker who isn’t pulling his weight is an invitation to a lawsuit—what kind of incentive is that for creating new job opportunities? In some places, children’s lemonade stands are shut down because they didn’t get a vendor’s license. What kind of teachable moment is that for children learning about entrepreneurship?
America’s government needs a spring-cleaning—to clear out decades of regulatory underbrush, and to refocus on what’s important. Streamlining the regulation of healthcare, worker safety, permitting and employee rights—would likely remove upwards of a trillion dollars of unnecessary burdens, while enhancing important public goals. Reducing infrastructure red tape would cut costs of big projects by half; cleaning out healthcare bureaucracy and creating reliable health courts would save several hundred billion dollars; streamlining approvals for new drugs would save lives and cut billions in development costs. Refocusing regulation on solving problems instead of micromanaging thousands of workplace details would open doors and windows that have been shut for decades, and allow individual ingenuity to flourish.
The government’s role, then, should be one of providing general protections, predictable and clear guiderails to protect public safety and security, while allowing space for ingenuity to flourish. Current business regulations and tax policy completely fail to live up to this ideal.
The solution? Acknowledge that it’s time to reboot government. Appoint special committees of respected leaders in each area to recommend new, simplified codes that refocus government on the needs of our 21st century society.
Unleash Small Business Creation
Licensing doctors and pilots makes obvious sense; those are complex jobs directly connected to public safety. Requiring extensive schooling and expensive licenses for florists and party planners serves only to protect those already in the industry by limiting competition.
Simplify Taxes and Regulation
There’s no debating that the US tax code is a complex web of rates, deductions, credits, and exemptions. At well over one million words, the tax code is longer than the King James Bible and the entire Harry Potter series.