In a lot of the Western/developed world, the spread of regulations really does do a great job in dissuading people from undertaking acts of marginal commercial utility that would give them and others pleasure. E.g. this facebook friend of mine:
You know, if you want to encourage people to follow the rules, you should make following the rules simpler.
I want to be able to hand-sell some of my books at local fairs this summer. Research tells me this is a losing proposition—I won’t sell more than a dozen or so copies—but it’s outdoors, and it’s social.
I want to do the right thing. Here in Michigan we have a 6% sales tax. I want to pay that—taking it out of my cut, not raising the price to buyers, because again I’m doing this to be social.
But I can’t just send the state a check. No, I have to have a state license to collect sales tax—that I’m paying out of my pocket.
But I can’t just apply for a state license. No, I have to provide a Federal Employer ID Number. Even though I’m not employing anyone.
It’s like they WANT me to be a scofflaw…
…More generally though, the strangling kudzu of red tape really is a problem to modern economies. Amongst my various friends and acquaintances I have many who want to do things that will allow them to (eventually) pay some taxes to their various governments. There are people trying (and giving up on) running food trucks/carts. There are people trying to build (rebuild/extend…) houses. There are people such as the author quoted above trying to sell books or other wares. In every case their attempts to do these things are impeded, thwarted even, by requirements to get permits and certifications and pay fees for other paperwork which some other part of the government will then inspect to confirm that something is allowed. The problem is not the requirement for a specific permit per se – seen in isolation most make some kind of sense – it is the cascade that results because every one of them requires copies of additional permits and those additional ones have their own additional certifications that need to be attached and so on.
In very few cases does the possession of the magic Permit P actually prove that what you are doing is actually safe/healthy/fireproof…, all it does is prove that you have completed the paperwork obstacle course. Indeed when Inspector I comes along to do the final check he or she is likely to spend more time checking the various bits of paper than actually verifying that your building/product etc. is in fact safe/healthy/fireproof…
All this is what it takes to avoid being a scofflaw.
It all winds up with everyone becoming a scofflaw of some sort; viewing their government as the adversary it has in fact become; and losing all respect or regard for it, with nothing but contempt and hatred remaining.
And then things start to get REALLY interesting.
(Via Sara Hoyt)