A Modest Proposal — An Exemption from Regulation

Really not real…. yet.

The President has put together a task force on re-opening our economy, and that’s obviously a step in the right direction. But it won’t be as easy to restart this engine as many believe.

In many cases, supply chains have been interrupted, bent if not broken altogether. In some cases, farmers are having trouble selling crops as restaurant demand has disappeared. At the same time, a major pork processor in the U.S. just shut, threatening consumers’ ability to buy meat.

Even when businesses do re-open, how ready will people who were so recently unemployed be to spend? And there are millions upon millions of us in that state.

None of that is the real concern, however. The real concern is that, as businesses from the smallest to the biggest try to ramp back up, they will run smack into the giant mound of regulations piled up by the last two administrations. From 2001 to 2016, we saw a bipartisan tangle of paperwork business must negotiate to do anything. Meanwhile, state and local governments have been busy adding their own rules. In my neighborhood in San Francisco, a woman spent 24 months trying to open an ice cream store. (https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/business/smallbusiness/before-ice-cream-shop-can-open-citys-slow-churn.html)

How quickly can our economy heal when the full force of government is doing its best to stop the recovery?

Certainly, the administration could ask Congress to pass de-regulatory legislation. But that will never pass in an election year. And, if by some miracle, a positive bill came out of our divided Congress, it would still take years for regulators to determine how to put the new rules into practice.

So, here’s my solution. Give business a break from regulation. Just let people start whatever they want and see what happens. OK, maybe we don’t allow new drugs on the market without testing (although the FDA has not exactly covered itself in glory recently). But for most businesses, give them a simple form to ask for exemptions from regulation.

I’ve developed a sample form, pictured above. If our masters in Washington don’t like my form, they can come up with a new one. I don’t care. But keep it simple and direct, so we can get our people busy digging us out of this hole we’ve been put in.

In a couple of years, the government can get back in the business of stifling innovation and stopping growth. But for now, set people free to try to repair the damage.

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