Thursday, February 9, 2012

The weight of government

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax advocate, has been quoted as saying something along the lines of, "I just want to shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub."

The case for doing just that is made in this instructional tale from, of all places, the New York Times, which is virtually always in favor of bigger and more intrusive government.

It details the challenges faced by a woman trying to open an ice-cream shop in San Francisco. You would think it would be a fairly easy task, but it took her more than two years and cost her well into six figures to get her little shop up and going, thanks to a government that threw barriers in her way at every opportunity. There were $20,000 in permit fees, and an $11,000 fee just for turning on the water, along with an approval process that moved at a glacial pace.

Two quick thoughts:

1) Similar stories happen every day, all over the country, and they are strangling the economy.

2) All of these costs have to be passed along to the consumer. I have no doubt that the ice cream there is delicious, but I also have no doubt that a couple scoops cost you $4-5, because that $20,000 permit fee and $11,000 water fee have to be recouped, and they undoubtedly make up a big share of the price of the final product.

Big government isn't free, and its costs come out of your pocket in ways you don't even realize.

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