Time to Prune the Regulatory Thicket
The American Dream was built on the idea that success follows from hard work and a good idea. But today, success is all too often about figuring out how to navigate a bewildering maze of overlapping and even contradictory regulatory regimes, spread across different levels of government. Unfortunately, solutions are unlikely at the federal level, given the rampant dysfunction in Washington, D.C. But the good news is that there are abundant solutions at the state level that can go a long way in cutting back — or at least managing — this stifling thicket of regulations.
In an unprecedented and comprehensive analysis, the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project has produced a groundbreaking report entitled “Managing the Regulatory Thicket,” which examines the daunting tangle of bureaucratic red-tape from the perspective of an aspiring entrepreneur. The “regulatory thicket” refers to the total, combined burden placed on the person looking to start a business from all levels of government. Of course, while each regulation may or may not be defensible on its own, the report demonstrates that the cost of overregulation often outweighs the potential benefits when the regulatory thicket is considered in full.
While fresh lawmakers are eager to pass new laws, they should also be thinking about repealing or scaling back problematic regulation. It’s not as much fun, but it is important. Small businesses are especially vulnerable when faced with layers and layers of red-tape. The typical small business operates without the benefit of in-house attorneys and regulatory compliance officers. And it makes it really challenging when the regulatory landscape is shifting under their feet on top of everything else. The reality is that small business owners end up spending inordinate time, energy, and money in sorting out regulatory issues that they could otherwise be putting to more productive uses — like growing their business and hiring new employees.