Regulation: Putting a Chokehold on Small Businesses

Food for Thought:

Pythagorean Theorem:                                                                                24 words

The Lord’s Prayer:                                                                                         66 words

Archimedes’ Principal:                                                                                 67 words

Ten Commandments:                                                                                   179 words

Gettysburg Address:                                                                                     286 words

Declaration of Independence:                                                                  1,300 words

U.S. government regulations on the sale of cabbage:                  26,911 words

better managers

Regulation has gotten out of hand. I work with small businesses every day and I am here to tell you this is most certainly true. Case in point, one of our New Mexico Restaurant Association members complained that he was being required to install a fire suppressant sprinkler system in his walk-in freezer – yes folks, a sprinkler system in a freezer. Take a moment and think about this. Is there imminent danger of fire in a freezer? When water from the sprinkler hits the freezing temperature, doesn’t it just freeze? I know it sounds crazy, but this is the kind of bizarre regulation being required of businesses across the U.S.

John Stossel recently said, “Regulators believe that zero risk is possible, and, if given the chance, they will bankrupt the world trying to achieve it”. With every new law and subsequent regulation, there are unintended consequences and costs. Requiring a fire suppressant system in a freezer is an example. The cost ($2,000) may keep this employer from hiring another employee or he may have to raise prices. The unintended consequence may be that the owner finally gets fed up and decides it is not worth it to stay in business. He should probably just give up to work for the government because it’s easier and the benefits are better– at least until the government goes broke.

Our own politicians are even raising the flag. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry established “Thrive ABQ” to make it easier for businesses to get through the government red tape (regulation) of opening a business. He is also establishing a task force to review laws before they are passed by the City Council. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez’ first Executive Order established a Small Business Task Force to review and make recommendations for regulatory reform. Even President Obama said in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, “…and we’ll work to knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.” Really? When are we going to do this and what will this regulatory knock-down look like? Will this come with all new laws or are we going to retrofit the existing laws and the crazy regulations we already deal with?

You may ask, “Well, isn’t all this regulation for our own good? Wouldn’t your mother want you to be safe from a fire in a walk-in freezer?” My answer is, not if the costs take away personal freedoms, bankrupt our businesses, and drive jobs to China.

Regulators and government employees are very concerned about doing things right. The problem is they never question if they are doing the right things. Fire inspectors must know it is ridiculous to put a sprinkler system in a freezer.  We need every level and function of government to do a better job of focusing on doing the right things, and we need it now.

Get involved. Both the International Franchisee Association and  the National Restaurant Association have voluntary and non-partisan political action committees that support and elect pro-industry and pro-business congressional candidates for federal office. The next time you hear of someone who wants to pass another law or add additional business regulations, tell them to stop. We really have enough. It is our government and our economy; let’s take it back.

CarolWight, Guest Blogger, Chief Executive Officer, New Mexico Restaurant Association

Carol Wight is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Mexico Restaurant Association. She is responsible for carrying out the mission and vision of the organization and for implementing programs and services that are a benefit to NMRA members.


2 responses to “Regulation: Putting a Chokehold on Small Businesses

  1. Drive Restaurant jobs to China… Seriously? Yep you’re going to lose business to China because you had to pay money to keep your Freezer from going BEKO and killing your staff. There are some regulations that we should look into re-evaluating but the tone of this article is a little too hysterical for me to take seriously. As an aside, if you’re freezer runs on electricity (most things in this world I imagine do) there’s a very real possibility of something like this. How much profit are you going to loose when you’re forced to rebuild your restaurant’s BOH because you didn’t contain a fire fast enough?

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